This week, DICE ended a decade-long tradition by revealing that Battlefield V will arrive without a Premium Pass. Each and every map and mode released for Battlefield V will be free for everyone who owns the game. It’s a seismic shift in the way that DICE and EA do business. Following Battlefront 2, it now means that DICE doesn’t offer a season pass for its current franchises.
Like Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is also rumoured to be making its multiplayer maps available to everyone, with a season pass restricted to the co-op Zombies mode.
It’s the end of what’s been a strange journey. We’ve traversed from an entrenched culture of map packs to an age of inclusivity, one where fans aren’t forced to fork out the cost of an entire game again just to keep playing the popular new content. It’s been a long time coming, but the last few years have been absolutely instrumental in this change. Overwatch showed how an established developer can take a stone-cold success and keep it exciting and fresh two years after launch, while Rainbow Six Siege acted as the perfect example of how a game’s fortunes can turn around. Rainbow 6 Siege appeared to be dead on arrival. A loyal fanbase kept things ticking over, but the writing appeared to be on the wall. Nearly three years and 10 seasons of content later, Siege is stronger than ever thanks to its regular updates and free maps.
With any luck, Battlefield 5 can join this esteemed company. Tides of War is being hyped as a broadly interactive season of events that will introduce special challenges, timed events, and new maps and modes, all designed to keep players coming back for longer. On paper, it sounds fantastic, although there is one glaring downside to a schedule of free maps - money.
When Battlefield 1 fans forked over $50 for the Premium Pass, they were being guaranteed four expansion packs with at least 16 maps over the next two years. In the end, DICE over-achieved and gave us 18 unique maps, compared to just eight in the base game. Over a span of 18 months, Battlefield 1 more than tripled in size.
Now let’s compare that to the big games that don’t charge for maps. Siege offered up a new map every three months when it launched; since reduced to one every six months. Over 18 months, that’s around six new maps. Overwatch, meanwhile, has had nine maps added in the two years since its launch, split between various game modes. Battlefield 1 came out after both of these games, and yet it has received twice as many maps since launch.
When players are offered a proposition like a map pack, developers have to provide something that appears to offer good value for money. Take the premium passes away and there is nothing owed to the fans, there is just the provision the maps to counter any drops in popularity.
If history tells us anything, it’s that we should expect there to be less new maps for Battlefield V than if there was a Premium Pass. DICE may surprise us, but it’s typically the trade-off when a game takes the free approach.
With that in mind, are you pleased that all maps are going to be free in Battlefield V, or would you prefer a guaranteed set of maps with the usual Premium Pass? Get voting and let us know why below!