At this point, it’s no secret that battle passes have become a staple of multiplayer games. Frankly, releasing a multiplayer game today without some kind of Battle Pass or content plan is a one-way ticket to an endless horde of bots declaring said game “dead” on Twitter. However, just because battle passes are always there doesn’t mean they’re inherently good.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to investigate whether or not Battle Passes have contributed to the overall good or detriment of multiplayer gaming in general. While Battle Passes aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, there are a lot of general pros and cons to the approach that make it easier to judge.
Pro: Battle Passes subsidize the cost of future content
Online multiplayer games have come a long way over the years, especially when it comes to how to extend the life of a game after the initial release. One of the ways the developers achieved this was through DLC packs that would add new maps, modes, weapons, or characters to the game, ensuring that there is more for players to enjoy in the months and years after release.
However, this approach often led to a player base segmented into “haves” and “have-nots”, as some players would not be able to join certain matchmaking lobbies or playlists if they did not own the matchup packs. prerequisite maps. Some games would even name and shame players in the matchmaking lobby, displaying a big glowing warning message that “X does not own the required DLC”. Cue yells of “oh look at them letting the team down” and so on.
Multiplayer games need content to survive long-term, and Battle Passes have been a great way to give developers money to create that meaningful content, while also giving players new cosmetics and reasons to keep coming back to said game. . Instead of DLC map packs dividing the community, everyone can enjoy the same meaningful content, while choosing how much they want to immerse themselves in the game’s cosmetic system.
Con: They absolutely promote FOMO
The fear of missing out has become an integral and unfortunate part of modern multiplayer games, and the rise of Battle Passes and limited-time events can be seen as the cause of this. If you bought a Battle Pass, it often means you have a limited time to claim everything in that Battle Pass before it’s gone forever, which can lead to feelings of guilt if you try to play other games.
Fortnite is perhaps one of the worst examples of this Battle Pass FOMO in action, as the game often keeps its exclusive Battle Pass collaboration skins. With the game’s younger audience, it could be argued that it promotes a sense of elitism, as some players would have the time or money to afford the Battle Pass and its various tiers, while others would not.
Battle Passes by their very nature also hook you up like an IV drip, forcing the player to work for content they’ve paid for. Essentially, you’re buying the right to unlock certain content within a set amount of time, and many times, that content you legitimately paid for will be gone if you don’t earn it on time. That’s kind of ridiculous when you really think about it.
I might point out that this isn’t the case for all Battle Passes, as Halo Infinite allows players to purchase their core Battle Passes forever, meaning content will never go away. Make no mistake, that should be the standard for battle passes in all future games, but even Halo Infinite isn’t innocent when it comes to content permanence. Throughout the seasons of the game, 343 Industries has implemented limited-time events filled with separate content, but once they’re over, that content is gone forever.
Pro: They are much better than loot boxes
We really shouldn’t celebrate video games for doing the bare minimum to not be greedy, money-grabbing, gambling-promoting charlatans, but one benefit of battle passes is that they’re so much better than loot boxes. At the very least, players can see the content they are guaranteed, if they complete at least all the levels of the pass. Loot boxes are random, meaning there’s no guarantee you’ll get anything good, whereas if you can see a Battle Pass doesn’t have anything good in it, you can skip it.
In a world where the cost of living is rising at a ridiculous rate, and having enough money to spend on games is getting harder and harder, being able to know what you’re buying is infinitely more valuable than rolling the dice and hoping for a cosmetic. purple or orange Again, it’s a pro point only because it didn’t trip up that exceptionally low bar of not being a loot box, but for many, that makes them an improvement over what came before.
Con: They are used for full price, AAA games
That pro point earlier about how monetization efforts like Battle Passes can help ensure games have content going forward really stops holding the water once the big annual releases start offering six Battle Passes a year alongside with a starting price of $70 at launch. For free titles, Battle Passes are great, but full-price games that offer Battle Passes are kind of a spitball in the face of all the effort.
This is especially true when you consider that, again, Halo Infinite is the only real game right now that supports battle passes that are available forever. There have been a lot of issues with Halo Infinite’s lifespan so far, but they made it there, and the multiplayer is even free to play. It’s puzzling that those kinds of battle passes won’t be the norm in the future, as it would surely encourage more sales and profits from late-joining players.
But that wouldn’t create any FOMO, would it?
While not every full-priced game with a Battle Pass is an annual release, like rainbow six siege or Dead By Daylight, are still premium games that offer in-game item shops where players can spend in-game currency or real-world cash to unlock items. Siege even offers a loot box-like mechanic with its Alpha Packs and Battle Pass-exclusive Bravo Packs. Even if the game is years old at this point, Siege in particular is getting fed up with monetization practices while asking players to pay to get in. Honestly, it should have been free a long time ago, but that’s another story.
Con: Now used as replacements for traditional unlocks
A smaller point in the grand scheme of things, but something important to mention regardless is the fact that battle passes have seemingly replaced traditional unlocks. Instead of using specific weapons, playing as certain characters, or getting set achievements/trophies, most content is unlocked through a Battle Pass now, which sucks. Sometimes it’s nice to be rewarded for playing how you want to play, rather than being forced to complete random challenges to level up a Battle Pass and unlock stuff.
So are battle passes good for multiplayer games?
The answer is definitely much more nuanced than a simple yes or no. Battle Passes have their uses and benefits as they are a preferable option to loot boxes that can allow developers to support future content in a game.
However, it appears that the feature has now been adopted by various AAA releases that are using the feature to extract even more money from the consumer. Instead of paying £50/$60 for an annual multiplayer game, plus an additional £/$20 for map packs, players now pay £60/$70 for the game and £/$50 for battle passes. This doesn’t even include item shop purchases. It seems like an exaggeration.
On top of that, most battle passes only reach their value by triggering FOMO on the player. If you’re not actively playing a game during the period a Battle Pass is active, you’re missing out on “cool” content, particularly with Fortnite, which often features collaborations with several notable franchises. Making all battle passes available to purchase, no matter how far along in a game’s life cycle, feels like a much fairer practice for the consumer, allowing them to focus on the games they want to play, when they want to play them.
Looking back at the history of multiplayer games, the current trend feels somewhat better than it was. Having access to new maps, characters, and modes for free is definitely better than being cheated out of this essential content, but battle passes still have a long way to go for many people. Whether the games industry will make those changes, or just
READ MORE: The best multiplayer games on Xbox Game Pass
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made while visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling, and much more.