If you’re excited about Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens then Electronic Arts certainly has you covered when it comes to video games. The upcoming revival of the PlayStation 2 era multiplayer shooter has received a great deal of coverage since it’s announcement and expectations have reached a fever pitch following the open multiplayer beta.
Electronic Arts has decided to capitalize on that anticipation by announcing a really expensive season pass for the game, because this is Star Wars the immortal golden goose. So if you want to invest in four expansions now, you can: and it’ll only cost you US $50.
The ridiculously high price tag only underlines a problem that most downloadable content has yet to resolve: the issue of cost versus value. Star Wars: Battlefront, to my great disappointment, has no single player campaign and that’s fine. If they handle it correctly a multiplayer only game can have great value for it’s players. But the lack of any story campaign would indicate that what we’ll be getting in these four expansions are new modes and maps, and it’s difficult to imagine that those new elements, while welcome, are worth paying almost the cost of a new retail game. This season pass doubles the price of Star Wars: Battlefront but I have a hard time believing that it’ll double the content.
Paying this premium for additional content is an issue that few companies get right. A few recent examples that did it correctly are The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which priced it’s season pass at US $25 for an additional thirty hours of gameplay, and Driveclub whose US $25 season pass has lasted a full calendar year and contained continuous update of new tracks, cars, campaigns and more than one hundred new races. Compare and contrast that to the traditional Call of Duty model, which Battlefront appears to be emulating, or the panned Batman: Arkham Knight season pass which has brought very little substantial additions for a very high price tag.
In any case, Electronic Arts seems oblivious to the problem, as do most video game publishers, but it’s probably less likely that they genuinely don’t see the issue than it is that they happily ignore it while they take our money. To be clear, this isn’t a problem exclusive to EA; while the company is more often than not on the receiving end of a lot of the gaming community’s vitriol and anger (sometimes without good reason), the problem is one that very few developers and publishers are willing to tackle. And why should they? This is a system that works, a system that makes them money and let’s not forget that for all the artistic elements that go into the making of video games, they are still a business. We keep buying these things so companies keep selling them and until we stop accepting the unreasonable price tags the price tags will remain unreasonable. And that’s not going to happen. Most of us won’t go to that length to make a statement and those who don’t won’t be a high enough number to make much impact. I won’t even bother; while I complain about the price hikes and the business of DLC, I’m fully aware I won’t be able to resist buying expansions for my favourite games. It’s a situation that’s like quicksand. The video game community wandered into it without seeing it coming and now it’s going to be very difficult to get out.
In any case, EA is “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.”
“In addition to the Star Wars: Battlefront Season Pass, today we are also ready to reveal the Star Wars: Battlefront Ultimate Edition which includes all the content available in the Star Wars: Battlefront Deluxe Edition as well as the Star Wars: Battlefront Season Pass.”
Star Wars: Battlefront launches on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 17, 2015 in North America and November 19, 2015 in Europe.