This fall/holiday season has seen the launch of a pretty amazing mix of games, easily the best since the current console generation started. And with that mix of games there are a couple of different ways I’m seeing developers go about supporting those games post-launch. So I thought today I’d talk a little bit about what I’m seeing, and how I see it moving forward.
First, there are the games that are sticking with the tried and true method. Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4 and Rainbow Six: Siege all have gone the classic Season Pass route – with varying value in them. I’ve talked here about the Rainbow Six silliness, but in brief, I think it’s far and away the worst season pass I’ve seen in a long time. There is no content in that season pass that provides a true impact on gameplay – nor is there future content there that I would think is imperative to have. The only truly gameplay important items are early access to future Operators. Not purely DLC Operators, just quicker access to them. The other games I think are pretty standard fare for season passes – guaranteed access to the DLC at a discounted price. It’s worked for a few years now, and while it might be reaching critical mass, I still think it’s a really safe way to approach DLC.
On the other hand, we’re seeing a lot more games take a new approach to post-launch support. Halo 5: Guardians, Rock Band 4 and Destiny: The Taken King all have a similar approach to it. The base game acts as a bottom line, and then future content is added in piecemeal, at little or no cost, and is supported with small microtransactions that are optional. Halo has the Warzone REQ packs, Rock Band restarted weekly song DLC, and The Taken King added in emotes and now event specific items. That’s the money side of things, but each game has also added in free game content too. Halo has already had one patch that added Big Team Battle, and has another coming soon to the game; Rock Band just added in Brutal Mode along with a refinement of the core mechanics; and The Taken King is currently hosting the Sparrow Racing League. That’s a lot of cool content being put into big name games – totally for free. I think this model in particular draws heavily from MOBAs. Developers have seen the success of games like League of Legends with the unique hero skins and are trying to find ways where it works with console games. I think this is really early on to say for sure that this will stay for the whole generation, but I do think that each game has a system in place right now that does look like it works – Halo in particular. There isn’t a right answer here, just that developers actually do support the game post-launch and that we has players do the same.