Battle pass

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An example of a Battle pass screen from the game Fortnite Battle Royale, showing its two-tier, multi-level reward system. Battle pass fortnite.png
An example of a Battle pass screen from the game Fortnite Battle Royale , showing its two-tier, multi-level reward system.

In the video game industry, a battle pass is a type of monetization approach that provides additional content for a game usually through a tiered system, rewarding the player with in-game items for playing the game and completing specific challenges. Inspired by the season pass ticketing system and originating with Dota 2 in 2013, the battle pass model gained more use as an alternative to subscription fees and loot boxes beginning in the late 2010s. Battle passes tend to offer free passes, which are available to all users, and a premium pass that require annual or seasonal charges in exchange for enhanced items and cosmetics.

Contents

Concept

Within a video game, a battle pass may be offered free to a player, or may require the player to purchase it through microtransactions. Once obtained, the battle pass presents the player with a number of reward tiers; by earning enough experience to complete the tier, the player gains the rewards offered at that tier. These rewards are typically cosmetic in nature, such as character and weapon customization options (also known as "skins"), emotes, and other non-gameplay affecting elements. More desirable rewards are provided at higher levels, which offer a way for players to show off these unique customization options to other players as a status symbol. [1] Experience is gained through normal gameplay, and often through in-game challenges, while some games offer a way to accelerate progression through a battle pass by using microtransactions. [2] In games that offer both free and paid-for battle passes, the free pass may have a very limited number of tiers or offer fewer or less-desirable rewards, but will track progress of the player's progression through the paid-for battle pass, allowing them to buy that battle pass at any time to reap the rewards. [2] [3]

Battle passes and the rewards contained are only available for a limited time, most commonly a few months, after which a new season battle pass with a new set of rewards are available to be acquired. Most battle pass items are unobtainable after the season ends. [2] This limited availability feeds into the psychological phenomenon of fear of missing out or FOMO, that a player, knowing certain rewards will only be available for a limited time, will be driven to buy and complete the battle pass to assure they have obtained the limited rewards in time, bringing more revenue to the game. [4]

Battle passes may be called different terms depending on the game. For example, Rocket League , PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite Save the World offers a "Rocket Pass", "Survivor Pass" and "Ventures level" respectively. [5] [6]

History

One of the first known examples of a battle pass concept was seen in Valve's Dota 2 during an event that surrounded The International 2013, the annual esports tournament for the game. [7] Called the "Compendium", it provided unique in-game content and other features for those players that purchased it, with 25% of all revenue made from it going towards the prize pool for the event. [2] [8] In 2016, Valve included the Compendium into the larger International Battle Pass, and later introduced a monthly form of one with their Dota Plus subscription feature in 2018. [9] [10] Valve also added "campaign passes" to Team Fortress 2 with special events in 2015. The campaign pass gave the player that purchased it a number of goals to complete during the event to receive unique customization options. [11] [12]

The popularity of these passes grew significantly in 2018 with the use in Epic Games' Fortnite Battle Royale . Its runaway success on a scale rarely seen before drew great interest towards its monetization methods. The free-to-play game adopted a "season"-driven release schedule, each season lasting 10 weeks (or sometimes more), during which a new set of cosmetic items and emotes were offered. The newly coined "Battle Pass" was added starting in its second season, during a time when the game was seeing a large growth in its player base and has been used by the game since. [13] Battle passes are purchased through an in-game currency called V-bucks, which either must be purchased with real-world funds via microtransactions, or earned via Fortnite: Save the World . Analyst Michael Pachter estimated that on the first day of the third season, in February 2018, Epic sold more than five million battle passes, generating over US$50 million in revenue in a single day. [14] With expansion of Fortnite to mobile devices in March 2018, revenue estimates from the game were in the hundreds of millions of dollars per month in the following months, primarily from battle pass sales. [15]

At the same time as Fortnite was becoming a success, the video game industry had been dealing with the issue of loot boxes, another monetization scheme where players spend funds to open boxes containing a random assortment of in-game items. In the late 2010s, loot boxes faced scrutiny from several government-related groups, believing they encouraged gambling, particularly for young players. Battle passes were then seen as a preferable option to loot boxes, as players would be able to see all the rewards they could earn, even if they needed to spend a great deal of time completing all the tiers, assuring players continued to play the game. Further, by offering the means for players to buy into completing tiers, publishers could also see additional revenue. [2]

Coupled with the success of Fortnite's battle pass approach and exhaustion over loot box controversies, other publishers started to evaluate battle pass use, with gaming journalists theorizing that games which formerly relied on loot boxes or worked as a service could begin to offer battle passes as a replacement. [2] [16] An increasing number of mobile games including but not limited to Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Clash of Clans, and Brawl Stars have started using the battle pass system in their games. [17]

Halo Infinite , to be released in 2021, will include non-expiring battle passes to the game to try to eliminate the impact of FOMO. Old battle passes will be able to be purchased after new ones are introduced, with the only limitation on players is that they can only progress along one battle pass at a time. [18]

Related Research Articles

Free-to-play video games are games that give players access to a significant portion of their content without paying. Free-to-play is distinct from traditional commercial software, which requires a payment before using the game or service. It is also separate from free games, usually referred to as freeware, which are entirely costless. Free-to-play's model is sometimes derisively referred to as free-to-start due to not being entirely free.

Loot (video games) Acquiring items in video games

In video games, loot describes valuable items picked up by the player character over the course of the game, such as in-game currency, spells, equipment and weapons. Loot is meant to reward the player for progressing in the game, and can be of superior quality to items that can be purchased. It can also be part of an upgrade system that permanently increases the player's abilities.

Microtransactions, often abbreviated as MTX, are a business model where users can purchase virtual goods with micropayments. Microtransactions are often used in free-to-play games to provide a revenue source for the developers. While microtransactions are a staple of the mobile app market, they are also seen on PC software such as Valve's Steam digital distribution platform, as well as console gaming.

Virtual goods are non-physical objects and money purchased for use in online communities or online games. Digital goods, on the other hand, may be a broader category including digital books, music, and movies. Virtual goods are intangible by definition.

<i>Dota 2</i> 2013 video game

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve. The game is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.Dota 2 is played in matches between two teams of five players, with each team occupying and defending their own separate base on the map. Each of the ten players independently controls a powerful character, known as a "hero", who all have unique abilities and differing styles of play. During a match players collect experience points and items for their heroes to successfully defeat the opposing team's heroes in player versus player combat. A team wins by being the first to destroy the other team's "Ancient", a large structure located within their base.

<i>Fortnite: Save the World</i> Co-op sandbox survival game developed by Epic Games

Fortnite: Save the World is a cooperative hybrid-third-person shooter tower defense survival video game developed and published by Epic Games. The game was released as a paid-for early access title for Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 25, 2017, with plans for a full free-to-play release announced in late 2018. Epic eventually opted to move the game to pay-to-play in June 2020. The retail versions of the game were published by Gearbox Software, while online distribution of the PC versions is handled by Epic's launcher.

<i>Heroes of the Storm</i> Multiplayer online battle arena video game

Heroes of the Storm is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment and released on June 2, 2015, for Microsoft Windows and macOS. A crossover game, it features various characters from Blizzard's franchises as playable heroes, as well as different battlegrounds based on Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Overwatch universes. The game is free-to-play, based on freemium business model, and is supported by microtransactions which can be used to purchase heroes, visual alterations for the heroes in the game, mounts, and other cosmetic elements. Blizzard calls the game as a "hero brawler" instead of the more common "multiplayer online battle arena" (MOBA).

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Battle royale game Video game genre with the last-man-standing gameplay

A battle royale game is an online multiplayer video game genre that blends last-man-standing gameplay with the survival, exploration and scavenging elements of a survival game. Battle royale games involve dozens to hundreds of players, who start with minimal equipment and then must eliminate all other opponents while avoiding being trapped outside of a shrinking "safe area", with the winner being the last player or team alive.

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<i>Artifact</i> (video game) 2018 video game

Artifact is a digital collectible card game developed and published by Valve. It focuses on online player-versus-player battles, and is based on the universe of Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game also from Valve. Artifact was designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. It was released for Windows, macOS, and Linux in November 2018.

Loot box Redeemable virtual item as video game prizes

In video games, a loot box is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomised selection of further virtual items, or loot, ranging from simple customization options for a player's avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor. A loot box is typically a form of monetisation, with players either buying the boxes directly or receiving the boxes during play and later buying "keys" with which to redeem them. These systems may also be known as gacha and integrated into gacha games.

<i>Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp</i> 2017 mobile game by Nintendo in the Animal Crossing series

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a 2017 free-to-play social simulation mobile game in Nintendo's Animal Crossing series for iOS and Android devices. It was released in Australia in October 2017 and worldwide the following month. The game continues the series of social simulations that allow players to interact with a small campsite with various campers, performing small tasks, engaging in commerce, and decorating living spaces.

In the video game industry, games as a service (GaaS) represents providing video games or game content on a continuing revenue model, similar to software as a service. Games as a service are ways to monetize video games either after their initial sale, or to support a free-to-play model. Games released under the GaaS model typically receive a long or indefinite stream of monetized new content over time to encourage players to continue paying to support the game. This often leads to games that work under a GaaS model to be called "living games" or "live games", since they continually change with these updates.

<i>Call of Duty: Black Ops 4</i> 2018 video game

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a 2018 multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 12, 2018. It is a sequel to the 2015 game Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the fifth entry in the Black Ops sub-series, and the 15th installment in the Call of Duty series overall.

<i>Fortnite Battle Royale</i> 2017 free-to-play battle royale online video game

Fortnite Battle Royale is a free-to-play battle royale video game developed and published by Epic Games. It is a companion game to Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative survival game with construction elements. It was initially released in early access on September 26, 2017, for Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, followed by ports for iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch the following year. Epic dropped the early access label for the game on June 29, 2020. Versions for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S were released as launch titles in late 2020.

Fortnite is an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017. It is available in three distinct game mode versions that otherwise share the same general gameplay and game engine: Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative hybrid-tower defense-shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures and defend objects with traps and fortifications they can build; Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle royale game in which up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing; and Fortnite Creative, in which players are given complete freedom to create worlds and battle arenas. Save the World and Battle Royale were released in 2017 as early access titles, while Creative was released on December 6, 2018. While the Save the World and Creative versions have been successful for Epic Games, Fortnite Battle Royale in particular became an overwhelming success and a cultural phenomenon, drawing more than 125 million players in less than a year, earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month, and $9 billion in revenue in its first two years.

<i>Apex Legends</i> 2019 first-person shooter video game

Apex Legends is a free-to-play hero battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in February 2019, and for Nintendo Switch in March 2021. The game supports cross-platform play. The game is set in the same science fiction universe as Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall series. A mobile version of the game specially designed for touchscreens titled Apex Legends Mobile has also been announced which is scheduled to be fully released by 2022 on Android and iOS.

Dota Auto Chess is a strategy video game mod for the video game Dota 2. Developed by Drodo Studio and released in January 2019, the game features elements of chess and supports up to eight players. The popularity of the mod, with its having over eight million players by May 2019, led to the creation of the auto battler genre that had a number of other games being released. Later in 2019, Drodo Studio developed a standalone version known simply as Auto Chess, while Valve, the developer of Dota 2, developed their own standalone version known as Dota Underlords.

History of mobile games

The popularisation of mobile games began as early as 1997 with the introduction of Snake preloaded on Nokia feature phones, demonstrating the practicality of games on these devices. Several mobile device manufacturers included preloaded games in the wake of Snake's success. By the early 2000s, the technical specifications of handsets had matured to the point where downloadable applications could be supported, however mainstream adoption continued to be hampered by market fragmentation between different devices, operating environments, and distributors.

References

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