I don’t like that Zelda’s getting season pass DLC, but I don’t blame Nintendo

It’s the season pass DLC thing that really bothers me. Let me explain. I think there’s a difference between what Nintendo did with Mario Kart 8 and what they’re going to do with the new Zelda .

Put plainly, I don’t like season passes because I think the practice is anti-consumer. Publishers and developers are asking consumers to buy content before they know what it actually is. They’ll say, “we’re going to release a lot of DLC for this game, and you can buy it right now before even knowing exactly what it is or how valuable it’ll be for the low price of $20.”

Game publishers ask for money from consumers before revealing the product. It’s the same reason why I don’t like the prospect of pre-ordering games in the digital age. Pre-ordering used to happen because games were scarce, and if you wanted that game, like Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube, you would have had to pre-order it in order to get it at launch. Retailers simply didn’t have enough stock. Now that games are digital, pre-ordering really only benefits the publisher. And they’ll throw in tiny bonuses like in-game clothes or weaponry in order to get players to buy in.

I didn’t mind the season pass prospect for Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U because we were getting a known quantity of items. Nintendo announced up front exactly how many tracks and characters we would get with each piece of DLC before they launched it. And they also announced that we would get a discount and characters right away if we picked up the season pass DLC. Yes, I still didn’t like how shady the season pass DLC idea is, but Nintendo it was transparent enough that I was okay with the purchase.

Zelda is different. Nintendo has outlined exactly what’s coming, but we don’t know how big it is, how much length it will provide, or how much effort Nintendo’s putting into it. Is it worth $20? We have no idea. Without the finite numbers like what we had and Mario Kart 8, we’re being asked to buy into the DLC without much in the way of consumer knowledge.

There’s a harder difficulty, chests with undescribed items, a shirt with a Nintendo switch logo on it for Link, some story stuff and the DLC that’s going to come out in the holiday, map features (whatever that means) and a few other things.

I want Nintendo to step into the modern age of online gaming just as much as anyone else. I want them to offer an online system that makes sense, a marketplace that regularly holds fantastic sales, intelligently designed smartphone applications and a friend system that isn’t completely tone-deaf. I want all those things. I even want DLC.

I don’t want the season pass. It asks me as a consumer to put up money without knowing what I’m getting. So, I’ll speak with my wallet, and I won’t buy it.

Here’s the thing: Nintendo’s trying this model because they’re seeing that it works for other companies. Season passes wouldn’t exist if consumers weren’t buying them. So, Nintendo sees the money on the table, and they’re going for it. I’m frustrated, but I don’t blame them.

Are you going to pick up the expansion pass?

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