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COMMENT | Shadow of Mordor Season Pass is hideously anti-consumer, frankly offensive

Matt Gardner
Action Games, Day One DLC, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, season pass, Warner Bros

COMMENT | Shadow of Mordor Season Pass is hideously anti-consumer, frankly offensive

I hate Season Passes, and so should you.

The past week of exclusivity chatter has been rife with points made about anti-consumer practices, but Season Passes are perhaps the worst, most vile form of cash bleeding. They are the greatest achievement of anti-consumer pre-order culture, managing to convince people to pay for content that hasn't even been announced for games that aren't even out.

The latest game to announce a Season Pass is Warner Bros' Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, but there's a slight difference with this one. Not only will snapping up a Season Pass that costs almost as much as the game net you all of the vague DLC that is to come following the game's release later this year, but you'll actually get the full version of the game on release with some nice day one DLC.

Yep, that's right. It's a combination of two of the things we hate most: an unholy union of Season Pass and Day One DLC.

For balance's sake, here's the official blurb, just in case we've misread anything (their emphasis):

The Season Pass includes:

Exclusive ‘Guardians of the Flaming Eye’ Orc Warband mission

  • Players will face Sauron’s elite Defenders before the Black Gate and earn the Rising Flame rune

Early access to the ‘Trials of War’ challenge series

  • Players will test their skills against select legions of Sauron’s forces in this series of challenge modes and build their legend as gamers post their best score on the Challenge Leaderboard

All new story missions with hours of gameplay

  • Lord of the Hunt – Hunt the wild beasts of Mordor as player’s discover hidden lairs, earn unique runes and face off against powerful monsters
  • The Bright Lord – Play as Celebrimbor, the great Elven smith of the Second Age, and battle against Sauron and the might of his forces

Access to future content

  • Including runes, skins and additional future add-on content.

So we have an iconic mission available at launch, snipped off of the top there, it would seem, and stuck behind the Season Pass paywall; we have two named subsequent bits of story-based DLC for a game that's not out yet; and we have a bunch of unannounced content because, well, a Season Pass includes speculative content. That people are willing to pay for upfront. For some reason.

"But what about if you know that you're going to buy all of the DLC already, Matt?"

You're an idiot and I can't help you.

But what's the best way of making a Season Pass filled with vague content of unproven quality seem vaguely attractive apart from relatively meaningless price numbers and talk of "savings"? Well, you chop bits off of the full game and pretend Season pass buyers are getting extra, bonus things at launch.

Simply put, you hold gamers to ransom. Yay.

Day One DLC is one of the most shady, anti-consumer practices out there. We hate it. It ferments distrust between content creators and their audiences. It suggests that things have been held back, that the "full" game you buy on launch day isn't actually the complete product. It makes a mockery of value propositions, particularly when there are visible examples of other projects where devs are working on polishing and preparing right up until release. Day One patches are commonplace, suggesting that there's always room for a little more improvement. Day One DLC basically constitutes a corporate cockslap for consumers.

Before you bring up Telltale, it's worth noting that their games follow an episodic model that's announced from the start. A Season Pass for a Telltale game is tantamount to buying a game at full price, not buying a game for full price and then buying essentially another game for that game for close to full price and argh my head hurts.

Day One DLC sucks.

Season Passes for non-franchise games suck. COD and FIFA Season Passes are also lamentable, but at least you know what you're getting into there.

Mashing two wrongs together doesn't make a right. It makes for a dangerous new amalgam of anti-consumer bullshit. Nobody tell EA.

Add a comment7 comments
JonLester  Aug. 19, 2014 at 11:27

I like season passes. There's nothing wrong with being able to buy DLC piecemeal or buy the lot at a saving. It's a good idea.

On paper.

But just like we saw with DLC and F2P games, there's always a way for big publishers to ruin everything. Case in point: pre-ordering season passes. o_O

Totally agree with everything written here: including launch DLC in a season pass is literally striking a blow against gamers; a disgusting and flagrant attempt to convince more people to buy content up-front that isn't even ready yet, while cutting out parts of the game for everyone else.

Don't pre-order season passes. Ever. EVER.

Quietus  Aug. 19, 2014 at 11:48

The problem with season passes is that you don't know what you're getting for your money. Let's say I get a season pass for one of my favourite games, as I'm assured there will be plenty of quality DLC. Then the DLC all arrives, and every single part is multiplayer only. I don't do multiplayer, so I'd have paid for nothing.

Developers need to start simplifying things, and I think there should just be three stages to a game's life: Release, DLC, then a GotY edition (or whatever they call it), which is the game plus all DLC. Sorted.

Late  Aug. 19, 2014 at 12:13

The problem with preordering pretty much anything is you don't know what you're getting. Applies to the game as well as any season-pass content.

It's very rare I preorder games, or content. Pretty much the only time I do so is with Call of Duty. Because with COD you might not know exactly what you're getting, but you can be sure your guess won't be far off the mark. And even then, I've only ever bought a season pass once...
Buying a season pass requires you to thoroughly enjoy a game, and still be enjoying it 6-12 months after it's release. And not many games will fulfil that criteria.

Quietus  Aug. 19, 2014 at 12:31

The difference with games is that you can check out gameplay footage beforehand, and make a decision from there. With season passes, you may get something for the first item, but you're blind to the rest. Also, a lot of places don't take payment until dispatch, so you can cancel up to the last minute. Not so with a season pass.

Anarchist  Aug. 19, 2014 at 13:43

"But what about if you know that you're going to buy all of the DLC already, Matt?"

You're an idiot and I can't help you.

Probably one of my favourite statements on this site to date.

joebloe  Aug. 19, 2014 at 17:10

I was looking forward to this game more than anything coming out. Now.... I might wait for a used copy. Too many other games not behind a paywall coming out.

Sorry. You lost me.

warchild  Aug. 24, 2014 at 06:25

Really... There's nothing wrong with season passes or day one DLC. It's no different than going to a theme park and buying fast passes for lines, or better seats at a concert.

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