The era of loot boxes is over and we are now firmly entrenched in the age of the battle pass. With loot boxes phased out of most games due to player backlash and no small amount of real legislation, battle passes and season passes have become the de facto monetization strategy for lots of games including Fortnite, Call of Duty, Destiny 2, Red Dead Online, and many others.
Do you buy battle passes or season passes, and do you complete them? That's our question of the week, and below you'll find answers from our writers and members of the PC Gamer Forums (opens in new tab). Feel free to add your own in the comments or join our forums and talk it over there!
Robin Valentine: The point a game gets a Battle Pass is usually the point I check out of the game entirely. I just don't have the time or inclination to treat any game like a job, and the idea of paying for content I'll only actually get if I play enough to 'earn' it is seriously off-putting—to the point that it usually ends up souring me on the whole experience. Even stuff like daily quests or login bonuses quickly kills my enthusiasm if I start taking it even slightly seriously. Yes, 2020 is not a good time for multiplayer for me...
A recent exception: I have bought into Legends of Runeterra's first go at a battle pass. Not because it's especially good or innovative—it's fairly standard, and the rewards are cute but forgettable. But the game overall is so generous and easy-going when it comes to progression and rewards that I felt OK about buying in this time—more as a way of throwing the developers a tip than anything else, if I'm honest. So far it's worked out—my usual couple of games over my cornflakes has been enough to make the big bar fill up fast enough to get me my pink shark pet or whatever. It's lightweight and inoffensive, which at this point feels like the best I can hope for from 'service game' mechanics.
Evan Lahti: Given the choice between receiving rewards and not receiving rewards in the game I play a lot, I'm going to pay $10 to receive some rewards, yeah. "FOMO" is a real psychological thing, and I'm not surprised that I'm compelled to buy into a feeling of progress for something I'm already emotionally invested in.
But yeah: most of the battle passes I've bought into are ultimately underwhelming, and I don't complete most of them. Of the games I've bought them for (Apex Legends, Valorant), I've only completed Rainbow Six Siege's. I'm mostly comfortable with the idea that this is the homogeneous system that all competitive games will adopt, but I do wish that modern competitive games, which record absolutely loads of user data anyway for the purpose of balancing and understanding us (someone at Blizzard once told me that it records "every bullet" in a game like Overwatch), fed back that information to players in ways that helped us better understand our aggregate performance. That's one of the missing details in all of this. Rainbow Six Siege is one of the few games that at least makes a display page out of some of this data, but FPSes haven't followed-through on what Halo 3 and other games initiated more than a decade ago with web-based match data.
Fraser Brown: I've been known to spend an unreasonable amount on games, but I'm yet to find a battle pass that I'm interested in buying. I just get stuck with the free ones that are usually even less attractive. I've not finished any of them, either. There's just no impetus for me to pay attention to them, and the live service games they crop up in already have enough grind. I find it wild that they're not tossed in the same category as loot boxes, as even without the gambling aspect they're incredibly insidious and, ultimately, just an incredibly dull way to do progression.
James Davenport: I completed about 10 Fortnite battle passes before I realized I was playing compulsively and not intentionally. I like having a stacked cabinet of action figures that signal my achievements, but it's overcrowded now. It's a mess and each new skin or item earned feels more meaningless than the last. Battle passes usually pretty cheap, but I find the time investment they require to fill out to be pretty goddamn wild. And not only that, but there's a limited time to finish them. Like Evan said, FOMO is a thing. I worry about how it's affecting the millions of kids that play these things.
Alan Dexter: I currently have two battle passes on the go, one in Magic Arena and the other in Apex Legends. I usually don't bother too much with the Magic Arena battle pass because I don't care about the cosmetics of the game, but the current season is dog themed, and my daughter loves dogs, so… I had to. Besides, the dog pets are quite cute. And annoying, but I generally play Arena with the sound off, so mostly just cute. I will try and complete it, but it can be tight.
I originally dropped cash on Apex Legends to basically say thanks to the developers. It's a free to play game that I've now sunk 700 hours into, £16 seemed a reasonable way of supporting them. Those original 2,000 Apex coins have lasted me a long time too, we're now in Season 5 and thanks to the battle pass paying back coins on completion, I've still got 1850 in my account. The only problem with the Apex battle pass is that I've already completed it with two weeks to go, so there doesn't seem much point in playing.
Tim Clark: Destiny 2's season pass has 100 levels to work through which drop various cosmetics, material and armor. You also get access to a new exotic weapon for the $10 price of entry, and the depressing truth is that even though there's quite a bit of community complaint (when isn't there?) about the the value of the pass, I wish there was even more of it. While many players complain about grinding out the XP needed to complete the pass, I play so much that I'm currently sat at level 275, and have to somehow stretch the content to Beyond Light's delayed November release date. I'd gladly buy another battle pass. Hell, probably two. Give me more mindless shiny stuff to chase. Anything to fill this gaping void.
Morgan Park: In everything other than Rainbow Six Siege, I'm more of a battle pass window shopper. I've completed two Siege passes, though I completely wasted $10 on the most recent one that I didn't even finish halfway. Learned my lesson there. The new Act 2 Valorant pass has some cool stuff too, but why would I buy it before I reach the tiers to unlock the stuff I want? Better to just sit on it. I've also been pretty impressed with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's battle pass, which has lots of fun cosmetics and weapon blueprints themed around different styles of play. Oh, it also has 100 freaking tiers. It's one of the few passes that can really keep you busy for a few months, in my experience.
Andy Chalk: Never have, (probably) never will. I don't really play live service games to begin with, so my opportunities are limited anyway. I chased the free track for the first season or two of Apex Legends, which I used to play quite a bit with my PCG Discord pals, and I think that over the long term the need to keep up with the grind (because I'm not completely immune to these charms) and the feeling that I wasn't "getting enough done" actually helped push me away from the game. I might change my mind if they figure out how to work a battle pass into the Stalker 2 campaign, but otherwise it's a pretty firm no.
Jody Macgregor: I don't, but I'm curious about them. Mostly I'd like to know what it's like to be dedicated enough to just one game that it'd be worth buying a battle pass, but my brain's a mayfly that bounces between five things at once pretty much all the time and I know I'd never get value out of one.
Phil Savage: I've got two on the go right now, one finished, one not. For Apex Legends, I quite like the little challenges that fast track your progress through the pass. I think battle passes in general work well for battle royales. Having to get knockdowns or headshots with a specific weapon or character is a nice excuse to experiment outside my comfort zone, which adds some welcome extra structure to a game in which the likelihood for most rounds is that you don't win the match. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.
The other is for Destiny 2, which is given alongside the more general seasonal content. It's a much weirder prospect, and on reflection I'm not wild about it. Destiny 2 is a game already full of little hooks and challenges, and while the battle pass is mostly automatic, the speediest route along it is by grinding bounties. While the upshot is similar to Apex – lots of individual challenges requiring specific guns or abilities – it's a poorer fit in a game that, at the higher levels, can be quite restrictive about loadouts and builds. Basically: I'm bored of bounties, and I've made much less progress along the battle pass as a result.
Chris Livingston: I bought the second Outlaw Pass for Red Dead Online—at the time I was playing almost every night to work my way through the trader and moonshiner roles, so I figured I might as well tack on the Pass and level through that while I was at it. And I completed it, easily, since I was playing so often, and I felt pretty happy with the rewards.
But, I just bought the third Outlaw Pass, but I regret it. I barely play RDO at all anymore, the new Naturalist Role (opens in new tab) is disappointing (opens in new tab) and won't keep me coming back, and over the course of months of patches, the performance of Red Dead has just gotten worse and worse for me. If I finish this pass, it'll be a dang miracle.
From our forums (opens in new tab)
McStabStab: I've put many hours into competitive multiplayer games and battle royale games, the majority of which (at least the current ones) offer battle passes, and I have never purchased one. I appreciate that the creation of the battle pass has allowed these titles to go free-to-play and keep the player count up, but I don't find the rewards add anything significant to my gameplay experience as they're usually cosmetic or quicker unlocks of things I can get by playing anyway.
With all the hours I've put into Warzone, I almost start to feel bad about not buying at least SOMETHING, but then I think back on how I shoveled out $100.00 for the Black Ops 4 premium edition and figure that's enough to give to Activision for a while.
Alm: I have never bought a battle pass. Despite not being interested in the content in the main, I still try to vote with my wallet on things I want to see more of in games. I got burnt on loot boxes on CSGO (bought around 30 keys for crates at £2 per key - with about 2 good skins being acquired) and so that helps with self discipline on these things.
Drunkpunk: No, not anymore. I have in the past, but I no longer support that style of monetization. Live service gaming is becoming a low-effort attempt to keep a revenue stream going, and battle passes seem to be the new replacement for compelling game content. I enjoy incentives to chase cosmetics, but if that is all or most of what a developer puts their effort towards to entice players to keep playing, to me it demonstrates a lack of creativity or future vision for the game. Battle passes also often use something I absolutely despise, which is time gating. It's cheap encouragement to get people to log in for an hour or so a day.
I have no problem with monetizing a game to continue development, but battle passes are not it for me. I would rather see a shop that just sells you cosmetics, and real content that extends the life of a game in meaningful ways.
DXCHASE: Season Passes/Battle Passes are blended with Destiny which is the only game i've bought into and completed over the last couple years. I think they are a good idea, it certainly is a way to keep people engaged with a particular game. Personally, the Destiny Season passes have been hit and miss, some seasons have good looking gear and weapons, others not so much, this also depends on how Bungie has changed the mechanics of the game as each season comes about.
SoulFlare: I really enjoy playing MTG Arena so I normally purchase the Mastery Pass for that game. It offers a decent amount of card packs, visual card styles, gems, gold, a cool pet and avatar plus some other stuff for a reasonable price. With the premium Mastery Pass I always feel like I'm getting my money's worth and on top of it since it's a free 2 play game it really helps with the continued development of the game.