Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb came out with a strong criticism of the current game industry practice of selling Season Passes for multiplayer games. The Xbox LIVE Director of Programming appeared on Podcast Unlocked, where he lamented how the practice splits a game’s communities.
“[DLC passes can be] really dangerous when it comes to multiplayer, because what happens is it fractures the community,” Hyrb said at the 17:45 mark of the podcast. “‘You have the maps, I don’t have the maps, I didn’t buy that map but you bought that map,’ so when we all get together, ‘Oh, you couldn’t play the map.'”
Unsurprisingly, the Xbox personality pointed to the Xbox One exclusive Halo 5: Guardians as an example of a better way to handle DLC.
“So what 343 has done, which I think is rather brilliant, is that everybody gets the maps. But they’re going to make things up with the [microtransaction] Req packs. That’s how they’re having some additional revenue, I assume, on the side. It’s such a great way to execute it and keep the fans together.”
This echoes comments made by Halo Franchise Director Frank O’Connor prior to Halo 5‘s release last year. As covered by Inquisitr at the time, he stated that he hoped the model of free DLC releases supported by microtransactions becomes the norm.
“There’s two reasons we’re doing this. One, we decided from the get-go that we wanted to make a very big investment in our players. We didn’t just want to release a game and hope it worked. We wanted to say okay, this is an investment in our players,” he said.
He went on to use Halo 4 as an example that had six different player buckets between those that had just the base game, the season pass, and each of the four individual DLC releases. This fractured player base contributed to the dwindling number people that played multiplayer post-release, though it was far from the only reason. It also forced 343 Industries to rethink the approach for Halo 5.
“We just couldn’t solve that in game design,” Frankling explained. “The solution was to put everyone in the same playlist. The benefit of this is it’s going to give us better match-making, because there’s less buckets people have to filter through, everybody has access to the same content, it’s going to give us a lot more focus on when we want to start adding things. So that was the biggest deal for us when we were making that decision.”
Halo 5 players have enjoyed monthly releases of new content since November 2015 and 343 Industries plans to continue this through at least June of this year. The developer just released the free Hammer Storm update this week with a new Arena map called Torque, plus the game modes Grifball, Assault, and Fiesta.
343 Industries also revealed the upcoming DLC releases for Halo 5. Ghosts of Meridian is planned for March followed by Memories of Reach, Hog Wild, and Warzone Firefight. The final content release is what has the Halo community talking the most as Firefight has been an oft-requested gametype since it went missing in Halo 4.
The co-op Horde-like survival mode was first introduced in Halo 3: ODST by Bungie and returned for Halo: Reach. 343 Industries obviously has some changes in the works for Warzone Firefight. The trailer that accompanied the announcement showed five players instead of the typical four player max, in addition to being able to use the Warzone-specific ability of using REQs.
The response from the community to Halo 5‘s model of DLC releases has been overwhelmingly positive thus far and has been utilized by other titles. Meanwhile, Call of Duty, Star Wars: Battlefront, and other competitive multiplayer games continue to use the traditional Season Pass method.
Which do you prefer? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Halo Waypoint]