GameSpot's The Lobby - The 'season pass' debateGamers are asking whether expansions and DLC are worth the cost or if they are cash grabs by developers. GameSpot's Danny O'Dwyer, Mike Mahardy and Peter Brown weigh in on the season pass debate and its impact on the gaming community.
[MUSIC] Gentlemen, this sort of struck me this morning. I want to have a quick little [UNKNOWN] with you guys about it. I use that term You use that a lot. Only one time. I had a comment about it at some point and it Never fails. It's a visual inside my head. And you just gave it life. That's another reason why the podcast version is slightly lacking. And thank you so much, by the way, to everyone who's subscribing and reviewing us. We really appreciate it. But yes, as I was saying, I was thinking, I was watching the, one of the latest episodes of the [UNKNOWN] and Jim was talking about how Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is oddly unique in that it doesn't have a season pass.>> Right. Which is unique considering it's a game put out by EA, right? And then also sort of thinking Far Cry Primal which is an Ubisoft game and they tend to also have gone Season pass or launch DLC or something. That's also a game that has launched with none of that. And then I think it was like earlier this week or late last week, one of the developers on The Division for Ubisoft was getting out there and saying that there won't be any micro-transactions on launch. And There won't be any pay to win stuff at all at any stage. And people are sort of getting ahead of this in a way that they weren't last year when we had the evolve problem where this was a game that was coming out which had 12 different. Well, it didn't have 12 different. It only had three or four different ways to buy it, which if you actually put the time in wasn't that complicated. But it totally scrambled people. Cuz I felt like, God I'm gonna buy a $60 game and then suddenly I'm not gonna have the best version, I'm gonna have this truncated version. So, do you think, I know it's only two pieces of data and it doesn't represent an overall trend or anything but do you think that maybe games companies now are being a little bit more hesitant when it comes to being so upfront about their season passes? I think they're willing to experiment now I think they're finding that there's a certain amount of the audience that doesn't really like that idea and doesn't latch on to it. But the other side of that though is the fact that you look at something like PVZ2 and Far Cry Primal, they're sort of built on the back of existing games. And they might not need that financial bump that comes from a season pass. And so it's a good opportunity to experiment with not offering it. That might help them incentivize it. The division, on the other hand, that's very different. Yeah. Cuz that's a whole new property that seems to be pretty complicated and taking a long time to make. So the fact that they're not trying to get more money back through season passes and they're DLC and micro transactions, it kind of seems odd to me. It almost seems counterintuitive. Your right. When it comes to- they tend not to do it for- these are two relatively established franchises, people know what they are, but then, you think, if you also want to sell them DLC, you only do it in a franchise that had a fan base. Assassins Creed is a good example. I buy the game, and I get the season pass. Because I'll be all in. For instance, Fallout is one for me. Where I haven't bought the season pass. Actually, I wish I had now because it's just gone up by 20 bucks. This morning right? Damn it. Those are situations in which, yeah of course I'll buy it because I'm a fan of the series. I've never purchased a season pass. Have you not? Never. To me, the idea of throwing down money for things that you are Totally blind to. They might say we have x number of expansions and this type of additions like characters or stages coming or whatever, but you really don't know what you're getting into. The Fallout one's a perfect example because they put the price up, because they're like it's actually gonna be more, but it still shows that when they were putting a price tag down they didn't know- They didn't know, yeah, they had no clue. Yeah, it seems like such a shady business move to me. I don't think it's evil but I just think it confuses everybody in terms of how we think about these games. Is it what it is at launch or is it what it is six months after launch? Yeah. So, I don't know. Because it's never really clear to me what I'm getting if I invest in it. I just don't. It's weird I wonder if it's so particular game to game as well. Cuz there are some games where it's ike [INAUDIBLE] yeah I guess season pass makes sense because there's this large open world and you can plug stories into it. Was when I think about a game, for whatever reason, I think about a game like Assassin's Creed I think, you know to me that's a game that wraps itself up. It is a story which is sort of contained. Right. So Anything you add onto that is just sort of like a different experience at that point. Yeah, like Superfluous or it's been taken out, which was just like The worst possible thing. What do you think, Mike? Yeah, I don't know, it seems like it's very much a case by case basis. Cuz, I mean, you have Rocket League, which it makes sense to keep adding incrementally to it because, no, it's these small, aesthetic things that you can pay two bucks for every once in a while. Good point, I've bought every single one of those. I don't buy this stuff usually. Yeah, but if they had said up front, Do you want to do a $30 season pass for the next three years? the season pass inherently becomes a gamble. Especially when the developers, like you had mentioned, they themselves don't know sometimes. You know, a lot of developers now, not that this is the case with Theraxis, but I remember Jake Solomon saying that They did not start working on the DLC until XCOM Two was finished, so, and that's another case where they don't know what's gonna be coming out and I don't believe they received a pass for that, but obviously there's paid DLC down the road, but I think it's just, I think it's worth waiting to see what you're getting into because You know like if you pay for the season pass you're locked in and I don't know it does always raise suspicion with me. I don't know that all developers are inherently doing it to just kind of get money up front, but I guess that like inherently that's So it's four. So I don't know, I've always been kind of suspicious about it. If I can return a game I don't like, or at least trade it back in for credit, what do I do with a season pass that's full of stuff that I just don't care about? Yeah, especially in the digital domain it's way harder to make those calls right up front. I was asking Justin about it cuz I'd really love to know how they sell. We have no visibility on how these season passes do. You have to imagine that some of them do pretty well. Like I imagine Call of Duty's for instance. Like they've built a lease off of that. Obviously that's not around anymore, but. And I was trying to look at like, you know Steam Spy or something to see if you could like figure out what the sales were of them. But there's none there, you can't see it. I just, I'd love to know. Because to me it's like, who's buying these? Like even when I worked in retail People didn't really pre-order that often. We put all this effort into making sure there's pre-order stuff all over the shelves, but people didn't really pre-order. They kinda knew. They'd pre-order for the ones where like, you're gonna have a problem getting GTA4 because it's gonna be sold out. But otherwise there weren't. But even these days, does that even happen? Do games sell out? I mean, they're digital now anyway, so. Right, right, exactly, so you have that option. But yeah, special editions are the only things worth pre-ordering, I think. Yeah it's really weird. I feel like, for instance, Fire Emblem. That's a really good case for pre-ordering that game because aren't they [LAUGH] making a couple of- Yeah, it sold out in 15 minutes. Yeah, that edition. Yeah. I'd love to know. See, the weird thing is when we talk to people in the comments on or the chat or whatever, it's almost unanimously people who do not like DLC or season passes. [LAUGH] Yeah. So Is this our, yeah. I'm just wondering like is this, trend against it or reaction to that reality? Or if we're only viewing this very small piece of the pie, and that actually there are millions of people pre ordering, and buying season passes. Well it's a problem we face, being in the game's press anyway. We have such a, like this weird, hyper focus on like our little world. And we try to understand the broader view. But it's difficult. And I think, Publishers probably have that same problem, understanding their audience completely. To extrapolate a little bit, I guess it would, I hope it does become a trend. I hope that developers and publishers have realized there's enough of a stigma attached to deals like this, that maybe it actually becomes harmful to have these in the long-run. Like that's what I was wondering is, like the same thing in any business. Is if you're going after money it usually takes a couple of years before people realize this is a bad idea. It usually takes somebody losing their job and a new person coming in and going, let's not do this **** anymore, for them to stop doing it. So I wonder if this is a lot of Yeah companies being like actually, this is causing ore harm than good. It's ruining the relationship with our community, that's an investment that's really important, maybe we should stop doing it. Ubisoft definitely had that reaction with pulling back and [INAUDIBLE] and nothing so crazy about their tlc plan in the future, so When I see something about a season pass I immediately see a publisher who is desperate Mm. Which may or may not be true. But that's sort of my immediate take away. Is like, they're not gonna make enough on the game that they've released. And they need to sort of like, you know, stuff the coffers with. [LAUGH] Yeah. With this money that they'll put forward. They'll put into something down the road. But right now, it's like. Crap, we gotta make some more money back. Amarig Grenchampan, I'm gonna go with. I think publishers don't care how many pre-order or buy DLC. For them, the numbers don't matter because it financially benefits them anyhow. That's a good point. Any money earned is money, especially if it's additional content on top of your base game. I wonder how hard it is for them to extrapolate how much it costs to make the DLC. considering so much of the work for the DOC was already done I guess [UNKNOWN] case by case. Or even subsequent games whether the sequels or other properties, talking to a ton of developers, they always say if your a bigger company, I remember when I used to talk to Looking Glass Studios, they said that Every game they made was just the most, like 70 something percent of the money was going towards something else they were going to make, or making. It's just this, I don't know if that's still a case, cuz this was a few years ago. But, it's like a cascading structure that kind of just keeps feeding back into it Itself, trickle down effect. There you go. All right, let us know what you think. Let us know [LAUGH] with your anecdotal evidence, do you buy season passes? Did you buy season passes in the past and then stop buying them now maybe? I wonder if that's a trend that people have had. Yeah, the fall IDLC, for instance. Is that one that you've jumped in on? Let us know in the comments below. [MUSIC]