Have you noticed a recent trend with shooters. At the very least, with any shooter that doesn’t have Call of Duty, Tom Clancy, or Battlefield in the title. While games like that can get away with offering all kinds of expensive add-ons, such as maps, equipment, and expansions, other games are realizing such a thing may not exactly work for them. They’re forgoing season passes in favor of free updates that improve the game. This is one of the smartest moves such games can make. It keeps them relevant and interesting past launch in a world where most games that possess that sort of longevity need to belong to a major series.
With Titanfall 2, no season pass makes sense. The first game didn’t perform the way EA expected. It didn’t captivate an audience the way other shooters did. When the sequel came around, Respawn Entertainment went out of its way to do everything differently. As well as an introduction of a story mode, this meant no season pass for its add-ons. All of the extra maps and modes have been offered up for free. Which has proven quite successful, as it has kept this game alive far longer than the original and made it far more appealing. It’s all about relevance.
As for Splatoon, its avoidance of a season pass feels like it has more to do with the target audience. After all, we’ve seen Nintendo offer season passes before. The 3DS Fire Emblem games, Mario Kart 8, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild all have paid DLC and passes to acquire. The difference here is that this is a shooter series that feels like it’s open to all ages and had a habit of starting small, then growing. It’s about staying relevant and interesting for younger players, while also keeping it interesting for advanced players.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is another shooter that doesn’t have a season pass. All of its multiplayer add-ons are rolling out for free over time, just as they did with Mass Effect 3. Will there be paid story expansions for it, as there were with the installments in the trilogy? We’ll need to wait and see. But what matters here is that while this is an installment that falters, the multiplayer is strong. It’s enjoyable and works well, with interesting character classes. Plus, it’s receiving frequent updates to keep it interesting.
Now, we have Star Wars Battlefront II. What exactly will happen with the game is still murky. Bernd Dierner, the game’s Creative Director, told Mashable there won’t be a season pass, while EA says it isn’t ready to confirm any plans yet. A big issue with Star Wars Battlefront was the amount of content and cost to add new things. Because there wasn’t enough included at launch, people were frustrated and some even lost interest. Knowing they had to pay for more things they wanted, perhaps things that should have been included, put a serious damper on the experience. Abandoning a season pass would be a good way to make amends, entice people to give this installment a try, and keep them sticking with it.
All of these show that the future with these second-tier shooters should be one without season passes. These are games that need to have their lifespans encouraged and player bases grown without additional fees. Companies need to offer updates gradually and consistently to foster goodwill. Then, maybe in a few years if they prove to stand tall alongside more established series, developers and publishers can attempt to cash in.
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