Seasson Pass for F2P
Updated: Feb 13, 2019
As Free to Play business models continue to evolve, they all seem to stick together into one single idea: give the user the possibility to increase its account value. This concept can be easily understood by comparing the account of a new player against a retained one and subtracting the common items between each other. You may get a map or levels progression, items found, or status acquired within the community. But in the end, the older account has always something more that is unique and worth the money.
With this perspective, subscriptions are always considered a “pay to win” or an “unfair shortcut” on multiplayer games. Game Designers have the tough task to keep the business model outside the core competitive mechanics so everyone has the same opportunity against each other on a single match. Or at least, is a moral value that gamers desire on their games.
Season Passes may be considered as a non-periodical subscription: money in exchange for access to content or features in a certain and concrete period of time. The “Season concept” wraps up some special content within this TimeGate. The players know, before buying, that it will be over sooner or later.
So, how can we provide value to the user and keep the core game mechanics safe to avoid “pay to win”judgment? We can answer this question by setting up two main categories of what players may consider as valuable:
Cumulative value: The purchase gives the player a permanent increment on his accounts value forever. Purchases pile up one over another. Sometimes purchases may give some boost to the organic way of building up value. But in the end, the goal of the player is the have permanent account value increment. A rewarded video that doubles coins, as well as using a power up to defeat a level that will give him a reward.
Experience value: The player purchase improves the cognitive experience while playing, but the value of the account remains intact. It may be considered as renting something for a while to enjoy it. For example, unlocking a character skin during a special event to show off, or unlocking a functionality to use it during that specific event. Dota 2 created the Compendium Purchase to unlock a ton of features that were removed with the end of the tournament.
Season Passes enters in the “Experience Value” category. The player shouldn’t receive an increment in value of his account but must enjoy more the game while the Pass is active. This will maintain the balance between payers and free-to-play players. When the Pass finishes, there should only last nothing but good memories.