Season Passes vs. Loot Boxes: Who Wins?
Like many online titles, Destiny 2 contains a battle pass – or a season pass, in this case. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been living its best life lately. The rewards can lack variety, with the various levels settling into a predictive pattern over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, alongside the various expansion packs, like the upcoming Lightfall, season passes are one of the ways Destiny 2 pays for itself, so they ought to be good.
Season passes offer developers a way to reward players whilst keeping them active as consumers. This kind of thing is prevalent in all kinds of interactive entertainment. For instance, on the lower end of the spectrum, mobile apps tend to give players an incentive to log in each day by offering daily treats, such as the (premium) leaf tickets and (normal) currency in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.
Free gifts can also be a great way to get new players on board. In online casino gaming, the planet7casino page lists a host of such premium schemes linked to its real money slots online, including a welcome bonus designed to show newcomers the interior of the casino without requiring much of a commitment. A VIP program also serves to keep older players invested in using the site, long after the initial perks have worn off.
Elsewhere, the “soccar” game Rocket League also uses the season pass concept, along with most FPS titles.
Destiny 2’s more premium systems have been overhauled recently. From the start of Season 10, the Season of the Worthy, developer Bungie halted the sale of the loot box-like Bright Engrams on the Eververse store. These can still be found on the free track of the season pass but their random nature meant that their value wasn’t always represented in the price players paid for them.
This brings us neatly around to a debate about the value of each of these systems. Despite the frequent criticism loot boxes earn in the press, the idea does have its defenders. For example, back in 2022, Overwatch 2 debuted with a new battle pass system, replacing the previous loot boxes. However, the oppressive grind required to gain a level meant that rewards were few and far between.
This is arguably one of the perks of the random loot box system, including Bright Engrams, namely, that they can be handed out all the time because there’s such a low chance of a player earning top-tier items. In addition, Overwatch permits the recycling of duplicate items for coins, meaning that even dud loot box rewards had some value, as they can be put towards another purchase.
Control vs. Randomness
Of course, as discussed, all loot boxes have a variable value, despite the fact that they all cost the same amount in real dollars. Season passes defeat this problem by allowing the player to see exactly what’s contained in the (usually) 100 reward slots. They can therefore judge its dollar value before parting with any cash. It all comes down to a balance of control vs. randomness, which is a difficult thing to achieve.
Overall, season passes are arguably the more “fair” option for players but loot boxes offer much more in the way of instant gratification. It’s likely that developers and players will never see eye-to-eye on this topic, however.