Season passes have become a standard in today’s world of gaming, and are a relevant business model to publishers now. So much that it’s starting to negatively affect the experience of games, especially long term. This is the case with Steep.

There are several disparate issues at play here, and we will look at a few in detail.

Paid DLC is starting to become a big problem. Essentially, paid DLC divides the playerbase, and that starts to become a problem in the long run for various reasons.

Playerbase Divide

Firstly, unless the game is still extremely popular months after launch – which cannot be said for many games – it will make finding a game with other players more difficult. Paid DLC means that you have a smaller pool of players to play with. Players who bought the DLC will only match up with players who have also bought the DLC. Players who didn’t buy the DLC will pair up with players who also didn’t buy the DLC.

Having a playerbase divide on any game that has dwindling player numbers is obviously an issue, but then we have an second, equally annoying problem. Some games may attempt to pair you with players who did not buy the DLC, and some games give you that freedom to like Battlefield which has a match browser.

This means that later down the lifecycle of the game, you won’t be able to play the DLC maps you paid for. Matches or lobbies with the paid DLC in them become deserted, almost forcing you to go back to the base game maps, rendering the DLC content to be a waste of money.

Skill Gap 

Sometimes winning a really close game by outclassing your opponent is a real buzz. Other times being able to chill out and cause havoc on people that are new to the game or lower in skill than you is fun. Then at other times, where you’re up against the next upcoming esports warrior athletes, it’s not fun at all. I don’t think anyone likes losing but when you have absolute no chance, it really isn’t enjoyable.

Playing DLC content will more likely than not pair you against a good player. Casual players are much less likely to buy DLC or spend any more money beyond the base game sale. Dedicated and more hardcore players will be more likely to buy the DLC. As a result of this, this means that you will constantly be playing good players for buying the DLC.

Many players see this as a punishment for buying the DLC. I knew people who actually used to delete the DLC off their hard drives back when you could easily do that on the Xbox 360. On games like battlefield, people eventually flock back to the vanilla base game content. This is another cause of DLC lobbies becoming deserted.

Left Out Content

How many times have games now had content stripped from the base game to only be sold later as DLC. It’s starting to become a problem in gaming where we are offered a stingy amount of content on the base game. The worst thing is when you feel underwhelmed with the amount of content in a game after just dropping $60, but then constant marketing is being waved in your face to then spend another $50 on a season pass when you have just bought the game. It really does leave a sour taste.

Ubisoft’s ‘Steep’

Now onto the topic of the recent news of the season pass announcement to Ubisoft’s new IP “Steep”. Not only is the paid DLC model a problem, it really doesn’t help when you release a new IP, that has something to prove, and then instantly announce a season pass that’s more expensive than other game’s season pass. On top of that, the DLC actually offered is underwhelming for the most part.

Many gimmicky cosmetics and microtransactions that instantly reveal the game has a currency system completely tied to microtransactions, aka. spending more money or grinding hard for currency. This doesn’t exactly win over gamers or entice gamers to want to drop another $30 for it.

The actual real meat of the DLC content is challenges and new sports. I get a strong feeling they either left out some sports to sell on for DLC or, they weren’t finished so thought they would offer them as DLC later. That is the general feeling the community seems to have and it hasn’t gone down very well.

Night time is even sold as DLC, which is a very gimmicky and cheap thing to claim as ‘new content’.

This is what the $30 season pass offers:

  • 10000 Steep Credits
  • 10 Helicopter Tickets
  • Snowman Costume
  • Moonlight Pack (Night Challenges)
  • 4 New Sports: Winter Sled, Rocket Wings, Base Jump, Speed Gliding
  • Additional Challenges
  • Additional Costumes

Now it is nice to see that there will be content coming in the future, and it’s not the worst thing in the world, but a price drop on the steep season pass would really help justify this business approach from Ubisoft. If they don’t however, with the current response from the community, I can see steep sliding down a very slippery slope.