Star Wars: Battlefront isn’t even out yet and publisher Electronic Arts is already tightening the screws on fans’ wallets with the announcement of a $50 season pass that you can pre-order now if you want, but you shouldn’t.
Here’s what EA said about the season pass:
“We’re also excited to announce the Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass*, which extends the game with four expansion packs coming at a later date, filled with new content that will take you to new locations across a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass owners will also secure two-week early access to each expansion pack and an exclusive “Shoot First” emote.”
OK, now go pre-order it for $49.99.
So for $10 shy of the price of the full game — which is not out yet — what are you even buying? “Four expansion packs” with “new content” and “new locations.” But what does that mean? What kind of “new content” are you getting? Will it be new multiplayer modes or single-player missions? Will there be new weapons and new vehicles? New heroes and villains to play as? What are the “new locations?” Are they from the new movie or are they classic locations? How many new locations will I get? When will I get any of this stuff? Because “at a later date” isn’t exactly something I can put on my calendar.
In a world where Warner Bros. was (rightly) criticized for announcing a forty dollar season pass for Batman: Arkham Knight without enough information as to what you’d actually be getting, it feels like EA is spitting in our faces with even less information and a greater price.
As a refresher, here’s what the initial announcement looked like for Arkham Knight‘s season pass:
“The Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass will deliver regular new content for six months post-launch including new story missions, additional super-villains invading Gotham City, legendary Batmobile skins, advanced challenge maps, alternative character skins, and new drivable race tracks.”
Compared to Battlefront‘s season pass announcement, Arkham Knight‘s feels like a treasure trove of information. You know exactly how long you’ll get new content and you get a breakdown of what kind of content you’ll get. It’s still not specific enough to shell out forty dollars, but it’s lightyears beyond Battlefront.
It doesn’t help that there’s not even a guarantee that Battlefront will work at launch. Developer DICE’s previous game, 2013’s Battlefield 4, was flat-out broken for at least six months after its release, with many players experiencing severe bugs and crashes or unable to play at all. Here’s what David Sirland, DICE LA’s producer, told GameSpot last year about how Battlefield 4‘s technical failings at launch affected the studio’s relationship with its fans:
“I can absolutely say that we lost [player] trust in the game’s launch and the early parts of the year,” Sirland said. “We still probably have a lot of players who won’t trust us to deliver a stable launch or a stable game. I don’t want to say anything because I want to do. I want them to look at what we’re doing and what we are going to do and that would be my answer. I think we have to do things to get them to trust us, not say things to get them to trust us. Show by doing.”
Sirland is absolutely right that DICE lost a lot of trust with Battlefield 4‘s launch, and he’s similarly correct that DICE needs to prove that it’s worthy of that trust again. The way to gain that trust, though, is not to start charging for a $50 season pass with zero details about what players will even get a full month before the game itself is even out yet.
The only thing you can trust here is that when a developer charges for map packs on a multiplayer game like this one, it splits the player base and hurts everyone. Over time, fewer people will play the maps that shipped with the game because players with the season pass want to play the new content; but even for those players, they can only play with other people who also bought in. To make matters worse, each subsequent pack has to deal with the inevitable player drop-off, so the pool of people to play with keeps getting smaller and each pack only splits that group further. Eventually the player base is so fragmented that the only way to unite everyone again is with a new game.
It’s planned obsolescence for your game before you’ve even bought it.
Plain and simple, even if you’re really looking forward to Battlefront, there’s no reason to buy the season pass right now. Maybe all the “new content” will be amazing and the “new locations” will be incredible. Maybe the game will be rock-solid on launch day and it’ll be super fun. But those are all maybes right now, and maybes aren’t good enough to justify laying down sixty dollars for the main game and fifty for the season pass a full month out from release.
Don’t buy the season pass yet. You don’t even know what you’re buying.