the battle pass it has established itself as a solid economic model to sustain a video game in the long term and depends to a large extent on the motivation and participation of the players. But such a balancing act isn’t always a long, calm river for studios.
The origin of the battle pass dates back to 2013 the DOTA 2, on the occasion of the international electronic sports competition with the Compendium. The latter allowed interested parties to purchase access to unlock in-game items. In 2018, a certain Fortnite evolved from a free-to-play co-op building title to a multiplayer battle royale. To ensure funding and follow through, Epic Games split up a battle pass system that would lay the foundation for what we know today.
Specifically, it is a seasonal progression system that allows you to earn many cosmetics and other items by completing daily and weekly challenges, or simply by playing. The battle pass is divided into a free, but limited part, and a paid part, called Premium, for about 10 euros and which offers access to all the rewards. Each Battle Pass lasts for a season of approximately three months.
There is no need to retrace the planetary success that Fortnite with this transition. But interestingly, in February 2018, Epic Games sold over five million Battle Passes, raking in a whopping $50 million in the process… in just one day. Figures that are dizzying and of course put green bills in the eyes of other players in the industry, eager to receive a piece of this juicy cake.
Therefore, free games that include this system began to flourish in many titles such as Apex Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (pubg) or recently surveillance 2, to name just a few popular examples. This economic model has also been very successful in mobile games such as Call of Duty Mobile, Clash Royale either immortal devil.
Each title has developed the battle pass in its own way. Thus, variations have been made on its duration, the way to progress in the different levels, or on the cosmetic elements or not included. We have attempted to contact various studios and publishers to ask about these options and whether integrating such an economic model has been worth it to them, to no avail.
Just in time for gamers and developers
However, we can assume that if these games continue to exist after such a long period of time, it means that the business is doing quite well for them. But you still have to manage to engage the community and motivate them to progress in the battle pass and redeem the Premium part every new season.
Remember that in most titles, this type of content disappears when a new season arrives. This creates a phenomenon known as player retention or Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). In most cases, reaching the end of a battle pass requires playing a few hours each day, at the risk of seeing the most beautiful rewards pass under your nose at the end of the course.
“To get to the end of the battle pass ofapex Legends, I had to play at least two hours a day. In the long run I ended up getting bored, I didn’t have that much time to dedicate to the game says Francoise. This testimony echoes our personal experience on titles such as surveillance 2 Where infinite halo.
In the first, the free battle pass unlocks not only cosmetic items, but also a new character. However, the latter is located at an extremely distant level, which requires a significant investment of time or the purchase of the Premium version to unlock it immediately. A questionable policy, fostering the so-called “pay-to-win” phenomenon, extremely frowned upon by players, which has also cost Blizzard a few feathers.
Sure infinite halo, progress in this mode is only possible by completing challenges that are sometimes extremely difficult to achieve, making the experience particularly unmotivating. The tradeoff is that each battle pass can be completed, even if many seasons have passed since then. But being the system what it is, among other setbacks of the game, the multiplayer mode ofinfinite halo little by little it is being emptied of its players, and therefore of its financing.
So the developers need to redouble their ingenuity to encourage the community to get back into their game and buy the Premium Battle Pass to keep things afloat. Whether it’s adding new game modes, maps, weapons, characters, or whatever each season, the studios are ultimately under the same pressure that rests on the shoulders of the players to advance this system. A situation that therefore requires a lot of resources and a strong and committed community, in a world where video games have never been so numerous and the temptation to try new experiences has never been so strong.
An economic model of the future?
So the battle pass system isn’t necessarily the holy grail that giants like Fortnite promise A particularly striking observation for smaller studios, which don’t have the popularity of games like pubg Where clash royalenor the financial support of major publishers like Epic Games for Fortnite or Electronic Arts for apex legends.
However, it is clear that the battle pass is now positioned as the best performing model to ensure consistent funding for the games that offer it. So much so that little by little we are seeing how these systems germinate in games that are not free-to-play.
Many “as-a-service” games, which are paid up-front, are embarking on battle pass mode. Until now, your long-term financing was secured by other means such as a cosmetics store against real money or chance-based mechanics such as loot boxes. This system, assimilated to games of chance, has nevertheless generated significant addiction problems, forcing the courts to prohibit them in some countries.
To compensate, these games resort to the battle pass, which is much more stable and transparent. It is still necessary once again for players to agree to invest and play the game, a bet that is therefore far from being won, knowing that they are being asked first to purchase the game in question, and then to continue spending money on it. . .
In short, the battle pass lives up to its name and is presented as a constant battle of the studios to reinvent itself to motivate the troops, the community, to invest time and money in their game, but as in all battles, the profit made can often justify any war effort. At the risk of leaving many losers wanting to try the game in their wake.
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