The Battle Pass is a new business model implemented into video games. Players can download and play for free, but they must purchase a Battle Pass if they want to unlock unique content.
Battle Passes are subscriptions for video games, similar to how some services like Grammarly or Spotify require users to pay a monthly fee to unlock the full experience. Free to Play video games (F2P) allow players to enjoy a video game’s core gameplay and still receive rewards.
Players earn experience points (XP) by playing and completing challenges. When a player accumulates enough XP, they will level up. There is a tier for every level, and tiers contain rewards, usually in the form of cosmetics. Playing for free and giving players prizes is a great incentive to keep them invested and return for more content.
Battle Passes can be seen in videogames like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Clash Royale (Pass Royale), and Rocket League (Rocket Pass). Once players feel comfortable enough, they can purchase a Battle Pass for approximately ten dollars to upgrade their gaming experience.
In games like Clash Royale, purchasing the Pass Royale (left side) will give players new cosmetics and more resources to upgrade their cards.
In most games these days, there are forms of currency in which players purchase real money to receive in-game (sometimes premium) currency. Currency can be acquired by completing challenges and can be used to unlock content to progress through the game faster.
Games are updated through seasons to continue to provide new content for players. Updates can occur every thirty days or ten weeks, depending on the game. If players choose not to purchase a pass, they get to earn only the most basic rewards.
Regardless of who pays and who doesn’t, players are paying by investing their time. It’s also very likely that they are spreading their experience through word of mouth, leading to more potential customers.
In both Fortnite and Call of Duty, players can see each of the rewards available when unlocked by reaching the tier level.
Video games are an expensive hobby, with consoles costing over three hundred dollars and games being more than sixty dollars. Having the ability to download and play a full-fledged game for free is very appealing. It’s a bang for your buck and allows you to enjoy new content as the days and weeks go by.
With a Battle Pass, a game’s lifespan is significantly increased and allows developers to implement new ideas instead of coming out with a brand new sequel. The negative is having to deal with constant updates that require more and more memory to continue using (sometimes reaching over 200 gigabytes). Ultimately, it depends on how dedicated you are to playing their game.
“As an industry, we can price things whatever we want to price them, and the customer will decide what the right price is for them,” – Xbox Chief Phil Spencer
Criticism comes from having to spend a large amount of time completing tiers and earning every reward. Battle Pass updates motivate players to continue playing and allow the game to stay relevant.
Similar to how you ask for a sampler at Baskin Robbins, I think Battle Passes are excellent by allowing players to taste the developer’s products before committing to a purchase. It’s also an alternative to introduce your brand and product to the market. Times are constantly changing, and so are the industry standards.
Even if you’re not fully on board with the Battle Pass business model, it’s a trend that’s here to stay. I can see many developers, including myself, adopting this new form of transaction.
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