Dota 2 has removed its battle pass, it's time for other live-service games to do the same
Can we finally end this eternal squeeze of our wallets and time?
Valve recently announced that it was bringing an end to Dota 2's battle pass. Once known as The Compendium, the battle pass that went on sale for every The International tournament raised millions of dollars for the prize pool, and yet according to Valve, it wasn't worth the time and effort.
So few people bought the battle pass that Valve decided (in an incredulous move considering the trends of modern gaming) that it was going to better focus its efforts on updates for the game and bringing content for every player, no matter how much money they've spent on Dota 2.
It's abysmal we have to praise this decision so much, but really when you look around at the other kings of live service and see that all of them not only want as much money from you as possible, but they're also wanting your time, it seems like we may as well abandon playing anything with our friends and instead seek a solitary life of single-player titles. When asked how much money is enough, most gaming corporations would laugh at the question, wanting more and more from their cash cow consumers until the next big trend comes along and has them shutting down their servers when six months prior they swore they had changed gaming forever.
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Instead, Valve has, on this occasion, looked at how it can actually put effort back into Dota 2 and moved away from the easy route of cosmetics. The company is still after your time and money, don't get me wrong, but there are much better ways to line your pockets and keep your consumers happy than the battle pass model.
Battle passes might be the most successful con in video gaming history. "Oh," says the faceless executive. "We heard how you hated gambling for the best skins in the game, so now we've made them accessible for everyone."
You'd think that sounds good, the solution to all your problems, and then the battle pass isn't earnable without spending cash, whereas before in most of these games you could grab a loot box whenever you levelled up or completed challenges. Moreover, you now have to spend as much time as possible playing the game, else you risk missing out on the season's skins that will never come back again. Essentially, where loot boxes only asked for your money, and put the onus on the player in choosing whether to buy them or not, battle passes play on the fear of missing out, forcing you to spend money and time to get the same skins as everyone else. There's no randomness, no fun in getting something in a box that your friend didn't.
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Even then, in extremely greedy cases like Overwatch 2 there are still skins you cannot earn but instead must be bought for extortionate prices on the in-game store. Recently, with the Invasion Bundle for Overwatch 2, Blizzard has advertised spending $15 for something that was previously promised to be part of the base game, and they're promoting that it has a $19 skin inside that bundle. At the point of $19, the price of a new indie game, we have to ask if these can even be considered microtransactions anymore.
A point raised by Valve in its blog post stating why it's giving up on battle passes was that barely anyone was buying them. If this is true for other popular live-service games, then it becomes even harder to defend a battle pass model, as it not only proves that these titles are focusing on greed over making themselves better, but they're also only catering to the "whales," AKA the people with enough cash and time that they'll gladly throw away exuberant amounts of money for the newest skins, emotes, etc.
I believe we've let battle passes run their course, and for some titles it's past time for them to be ditched in favour of actually presenting new content to players that makes them want to play the game. It's impossible to remove the battle pass from a title like Fortnite, but then again Epic Games still manages to inject new weapons, map updates, and more to Fortnite every so often. With other titles the same cannot be said, and as always a loyal fanbase is going to be created more from a solid game that gets constant attention than a release only focusing on how much money it can get from its player base in the shortest amount of time possible.