Disney Speedstorm community up in arms as premium pass can no longer be earned through gameplay: Starting with the next season, if you want it you'll have to pay for it

Disney Speedstorm screenshot - a blue racecar chasing a pink racecar, both driven by Disney characters I don't recognize because they presumably came out after 1970
(Image credit: Gameloft)

The Disney Speedstorm community is in a bit of an uproar following a change to the pricing of the game's battle pass. The Golden Pass, as it's formally called, could previously be acquired using Tokens that can be earned via gameplay, but beginning with the upcoming season 7, that option is out, and it will only be available for a real-money purchase of $10.

The new pricing scheme was revealed in a recent community update that announced "significant structural changes" to the Golden Pass, which Gameloft said aims to make them "more engaging and faster to complete." 83% of Disney Speedstorm players don't reach tier 50 of the Golden Pass, the studio said, and among players who start later in the season, the percentage is even higher. 

To help address that issue and ensure more players are able to access the Golden Pass content, the amount of XP required to access each tier, up to tier 49, is being halved, "so players should be able to complete the pass in half the time." The repeatable tier of the Golden Pass "will increase incrementally."

The bigger issue, though, is the change in pricing. Beginning with season 7, the Golden Pass will have free and premium tracks, and the only way to get the premium is to drop $10/€10, or your local equivalent, or $20/€20 for a Golden Pass Bundle that comes with a skip for the first 15 tiers. Each season will also be split into two halves of roughly one month each, and each with its own Golden Pass, so players who want all the premium content in a season will have to buy two Golden Passes.

The change has not gone over well with players.

"My 'favorite' part is where they say the Golden Pass will have its requirements cut in half, but now we'll have double the Golden Passes each season," redditor Latter-Mention-5881 wrote. "And we only have a single month to complete each one. Make it make sense."

"I guess the Golden Pass wasn't making enough money, so now you have to buy to two and you can't save your hard earned tokens for 'free' passes," PaperClipSlip said. "And don't come here and say we get twice the content. From what I read they're locking characters behind each pass. So if you want all seasons drivers you need pay twice as much as now."

I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to ask players to pay for additional content in a live service game, but Disney Speedstorm has been in early access since April 2023, meaning dedicated players have had a full year to grow accustomed to the idea of grinding for Golden Passes as an alternative to paying for them. Taking that away was bound to be an unpopular move, even just as a matter of principle.

Some players have also complained that they're sitting on stockpiles of Tokens they'd purchased in order to access future Golden Passes. This is something that Gameloft actively encouraged: "If you were to buy the Golden Pass Premium tier with the in-game currency, it would require 990 tokens," the studio said in a message that's still up on the Disney Speedstorm website. "Given that token amounts start at 4,000 for the Standard Founder's Pack, with any of the Packs you are set to get access to Golden Pass premium rewards for many seasons to come!"

The language on the Xbox and PlayStation Store pages is even more explicit: "Tokens are an in-game currency that can be earned for free by achieving goals in the game or by being purchased using real-world money. They are not season-based and can be accumulated. They can also be used to obtain items in the shop, buy the Golden Pass, skip Golden Pass tiers, and much more." 

The Gameloft support page also still says Tokens can be used to "unlock the premium tier of the Golden Pass content within a season." Season 7 hasn't started yet and so that information is still accurate but given the announced changes, some players believe it's misleading and have begun calling for refunds on Token purchases and are even discussing the possibility of legal action.

Unsurprisingly, the new pricing plan has sparked an influx of negative user reviews on Steam—not enough to qualify as a concerted review-bombing, and many of the new negative reviews say the gameplay is actually quite good. But there's definitely unhappiness with the new monetization scheme.

(Image credit: Gameloft (Twitter))

This isn't the first time Gameloft has found itself the target of player ire over game pricing. In October 2023, just ahead of the release of Disney Dreamlight Valley, it dropped plans to release it as a free-to-play and instead opted for premium pricing, a shift that caught early access players by surprise and left many of them unhappy, large due to the decision to leave free-to-play systems in place, including purchasable currency, battle passes, and cosmetic items in the in-game store. We said in our 68% review of that game that "steep costs and microtransactions taint an otherwise dreamy life sim."

Disney Speedstorm season 7 is expected to go live later in April. I've reached out to Gameloft for comment and to ask if any thought is being given to reverse the changes, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.