[Update: Gears of War 3 Season Pass Official FAQ for more info]
Remember the days when you bought a game… and then you owned it in its entirety? The advent of consoles with online services put a quick and harsh end to that, setting a costly precedent for the current generation of gamers. Now, developers have the incentive to not include all content at retail, instead planning to charge for them separately.
It’s even gotten to the point where some games include additional content on the retail disc at launch, but gamers must pay to unlock it. It’s an awful reality that’s being taken to the next logical step where users can pay even more to bundle the pre-planned, unreleased content, a step that Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios are taking with Gears of War 3.
Microsoft and Epic have just announced that starting on September 20th – the release date of Gears of War 3 – fans will be able to purchase the Gears of War 3 Season’s Pass which will guarantee them a 33% savings on overpriced all DLC. Guess how much it costs?
$30 / 2400 Microsoft Points
I’m not too sure on the math but if the standard edition of Gears of War 3 costs $60, then buyers will have to pay an added 50% to get only a 33% discount, meaning there is $45 worth of DLC in the pipeline, nearing the cost of the game. Comparing to Call of Duty, it costs $15 for a single map pack (maps!) so really, this is comparable and fair-priced in relative terms, right?
Here’s what the press release says about what you get:
Adding hours of campaign and multiplayer mayhem, these game add-ons will be must-haves for any “Gears” fan, and the “Gears of War 3” Season Pass is your ticket to getting them at a discount the day they release. Available Sept. 20 for 2400 Microsoft points on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, the season pass represents a 33 percent savings versus purchasing the add-ons individually, and also includes an exclusive Liquid Metal Weapon Set.
This does explain why the full Gears of War 3 map list only includes a measly 10 maps shipping with the title at launch, when – after DLC – there were 22 in Gears 2.
The first of the four DLC add-ons is already scheduled for release in November, meaning the delay of the game from April to its current September release just wasn’t quite enough time to get it done – or it was and that’s why we’re seeing the expensive DLC season’s pass.
For gamers who only/mostly plan to play Gears of War 3, this for you – and there may be a lot of you since Gears of War 3 is already one of the best games of the year from all the times we’ve played it, including the beta and our demos at E3, X’11 and other such gaming events. But if you’re a gamer like most, you probably play a lot of major releases and you’re no doubt getting a little concerned about the season’s passes now coming out for many of them:
- Rockstar Pass: $12 – gives all DLC for L.A. Noire
- Mortal Kombat season’s pass: $15 – get all four DLC characters
- EA Sports season pass: $24.99 annual fee – gives limited full-game demos that expire
Add these costs to the retail prices of the game and the full price of DLC/retail purchases/Avatar items, etc., and we’re not getting good deals here. $15 is 1/4th the cost of Mortal Kombat for 4 characters.
Of course, DLC is just a choice but if you plan to play games long-term and keep up on the multiplayer side of Gears of War 3, many of the downloadables may become a necessity – with such an overwhelming fall release schedule of video game releases, it’s becoming so costly to keep up now and this is a pretty extreme example.
We also don’t expect this to come packaged with the more expensive Limited and Epic Editions, so purchasers of those will really be burning their bank accounts to fully enjoy the next Gears. But hey, you get the Liquid Metal Weapon Set and there’s nothing like digital cosmetics! Speaking of which, if you spend $150 of the Epic Edition of Gears of War 3 and another $30 on the Season pass, do you also get the obligatory Avatar items on Xbox Live? Nope.
Let none of this take away from Gears of War 3 since it is just bonus content for those willing to pay more – and it’s a business so Epic and Microsoft want to cash in on the trilogy-closing installment. Check out the the Gear of War 3 opening cinematic and note that the game will also ship with 3D that can be used in every part of the game, including the menus and maps.
Gears of War 3 emerges exclusively onto Xbox 360 on September 20th.
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