Tuesday, 12 February 2013

More Microtransaction Talk - The Season Pass

A potential new way to get players to buy, schmuck bait, or something else entirely?

I figure that since I already touched upon microtransactions yesterday that it might be best to keep the ball rolling. As much as it irks me to say so, it seems that microtransactions might truly be one of the things that are just going to keep becoming more prevalent in games, even when they shouldn't be. Even though EA has somewhat mitigated gamer rage with their statement that you don't need microtransactions in Dead Space 3, the very fact alone that they are present in a full priced game means that the dynamic has changed. We can probably expect to see more of the same in the future.

Of course, with microtransactions, there also comes the question of how people will pay, how much they will pay, what they will pay for, and a myriad of other such issues. One particular method that has been suggested is a season pass approach: a pay for it once method that would guarantee all the microtransactions or DLC in a particular window of time, up to and including for as long as new content is coming out.

This approach may sound odd, and can be nonviable in certain situations I can think of without proper controls such as a one item per pass limit (not to say that a pass only buys one item, but that each item can only be purchased once with a pass), but it is an intriguing way of doing things, and one that has already had some exploration as well. Rockstar has implemented the Rockstar Pass for both Max Payne 3 and L.A. Noire. This purchase lets players get all the DLC included under it as they come out, and save a little overall price wise as well.

The basic crux that the PAR article I linked regarding the season pass is thus:

“People like [paying one larger fee] better. It’s weird to think there are situations where they don’t want free to play, where they do want to pay one price up front and then [they] can do whatever [they] want. Because that’s an amazing feeling. That’s the feeling of Utopia. People are willing to sacrifice to get into Utopia,”

The analogy here is that you shell out more for a day pass at a park that lets you go and ride whatever you want however many times you want, and you don't feel as bad about it because you're not constantly reaching for your cash. This is of course counter intuitive to the true nature of the purchase, which is probably more than what you would have paid if you were doing so on a per ride basis.

It's an interesting thought, but at the same time I don't honestly believe that it's entirely on the same scope as the day pass for the amusement park. With a day pass, you know what you can ride, you know what you probably want to ride, the choice is yours. With a pass that would unlock potential DLC, you may not know what particular DLC is going to actually be present in the game itself. There's a question of whether DLC will be worth the purchase in the first place, and how much potential DLC will fall under the umbrella of the pass.

With the above mentioned Rockstar Pass I believe that all the DLC that would be under the pass was mentioned from the beginning. I'm not sure whether they went as far as to divulging the complete nature of each part of each package, but it might not have been out of the question. With a game there is somewhat of a risk: if the game is not popular, or the DLC is underwhelming, then people will end up resenting buying such a pass.

There's also some logistical problems. The microtransactions of Team Fortress 2, for example, cannot be given the same weight as, say, the Dead Space 3 DLC, which cannot be compared to Skyrim's DLC expansions either. It's not terribly hard to establish a fair baseline, but a catch all isn't going to work, and people who think it will are no doubt going to be disappointed.

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