For all the “innovations” that online games have pioneered over the past few years to generate additional revenue, the one that’s received probably the least disdain from gamers is the season pass. Subscriptions are on their way out, cash shops are overflowing with “cosmetic” gear, and don’t get me started on loot boxes, but the season pass seems to have escaped the general ire.
As for me, I’m not mad about season passes exactly, but I find myself a little … well, in a bit of a love-hate relationship with them. I actually had never bought one before shelling out for the last season of Destiny 2. I was playing it a lot, and it was fun! I got lots of loot! And all for just 10 bucks over 2.5 months!
My play time in that game has dropped off, so I haven’t bought the current season’s pass, but now I’m back playing a lot of Conqueror’s Blade. I started the current season late, so I won’t be buying this season’s pass, but I’ll probably do it for next season, so I can get the extra rewards from the get-go.
Where does that leave me with Destiny 2? Sure, I’m not playing it as much as I used to, but buying that season pass would be nice for the times when I do. But then I’ll be faced with the dilemma of having two season passes and trying to figure out which one I want to play more and achieve the highest rank – which is, naturally, where the best loot resides. Do I just get to level 40 in both of them? Or level 80 in one? It’s easier, honestly, to simply decide that I’ll focus on one game – the one I buy the pass for – and mostly ignore the other one.
Therein lies the problem. Back in the day, when everything was subscription-based, I never had a sub to more than one game per month. “I’ll never play both enough to justify the expenditure,” I told myself. And it was true. When Star Wars: The Old Republic launched, I had a sub for five months (one that came with the game, three purchased, and one more given out by BioWare to account for some issues with the early game) and my playtime in The Lord of the Rings Online, where I at least had a lifetime sub and didn’t need to pay monthly, diminished. If I still would have had to pay for LotRO, I don’t know that I would have.
Season passes are a kind of “soft” subscription, for me at least. If I’m paying for one in one game, and not the other, I just don’t think I’ll play as much of the “free” game since it means I won’t get maximum possible rewards in the “paid” game. And I just can’t see how I’d pay for two at once. Even with their advantages – $10 for two-plus months beats the usual $15 per month subscription of other games – I just don’t think I can justify shelling out for two at once.
Sure, it’s a First World Problem, and it’s a generally uncontroversial way for free-to-play games to make money without loot boxes or other unsavory tactics. Maybe I’m just feeling too skittish after a decade or so of having to deal with those tactics, thinking that “Sure, season passes are all right, but there has to be a downside, right? No? Here, let me invent one!”
Well, maybe there isn’t, apart from the turmoil in my paranoid, cheapskate, trying-too-hard-to-optimize-my-game-time brain. So what do you think? Do you like season passes? Are you, unlike me, capable of running with more than one at a time? Or are you like me, a one-game-at-a-time player?