I always love when I see a headline that gets my writing juices flowing. That happened today when I read about the announcement of the Season Pass for Rainbow Six: Siege. Generally, I’m in favor of Season Passes – I think that developers get that they’re a good way to get players invested in the DLC season early and throughout the duration. With Rainbow Six though, I think they missed the mark by a pretty substantial margin.
The new content for R6 includes one-week early access to new operators, exclusive weapon skins, and a permanent reputation gain boost. There are a couple other little bits, like random skin packs and challenges, but ultimately, that’s the extent of the Season Pass. That’s really weak. There’s no word on whether R6 will have actual DLC in the form of map packs moving forward, but if there is, you can bet there will be even more backlash against this Season Pass. Ubisoft has said that they want Rainbow Six: Siege to be a prominent esport game. If that’s the case, I really think this was a tremendously bad move. No content that’s included in the $30 price tag is relevant to the extended lifespan of the game. That’s what Season Passes are supposed to be about. The content that’s in the Season Pass is much more in line with post-launch microtransaction content. I talked earlier this week about microtransactions in games, but I’ll repeat it quickly here. I think when they’re done well, they work fine. If they had made these items available that way, I think that would be no problem at all – except maybe the reputation boost.
Contrast that with the Fallout 4 Season Pass. Also costing $30, that Season Pass will give players access to all the future DLC for the game. That’s a hell of a value. Fallout: New Vegas, which I’m replaying while my Xbox One is out at service, had four full sized DLCs, along with one that added in a whole slew of weapons and mods. Those full size, story content DLC each cost $10. Assuming that Bethesda goes the same route with Fallout 4, that means that the Season Pass is a no-brainer – it saves you $10, not counting any of the other possible add-ons. Same price as the Rainbow Six one, but the content included is so much more valuable. Call of Duty goes through the same question every year too – is the Season Pass going to save me enough money VS. buying the maps separately. What Activision and the developers do with the Call of Duty Season Passes is add in a little extra, usually a weapon skin or player calling card, that adds in a little more value to help it out. Not only do you, nowadays, save $5 versus buying the maps, but you get a couple unique items.
Whether we like it or not, I think Season Passes are here to stay. They, much like a lot of elements in modern gaming, are very much a fluid entity. There are great options out there to get a bunch of awesome extra content for a more value-driven price; and there are ones that just don’t make sense from a value standpoint. Every player is going to have their own thoughts on these sort of things – hardcore fans will pretty much always go for them, as a way to support the game and keep the game fresh. Less invested players might be more inclined to skip them.