November 16, 2023 by Cory Dell
Sports games being yearly releases has always brought a sense of familiarity to gamers. We know roughly when to expect the newest version, what the game will look and feel like and have some idea of what the next several months playing will be. It’s a routine that we engage in every single year, often lamenting the lack of true innovation while still investing time and money in the product.
However, every once in a while something major happens that shifts our expectations. With MLB The Show 23, the advent of Sets and Seasons was a major game changer. The classic grind, going from low-level Diamonds at the beginning of the year into full-fledged endgame cards during the summer ceased to exist. We had 99 overall cards from the beginning, with more released every single week. Regardless of how Sets and Seasons might have been received, it was still a gutsy move by SDS to radically change the way a dedicated fanbase would engage with their game.
Elsewhere in the sports gaming sphere, 2K made a major change themselves by introducing a Season Pass in NBA 2K24.
We’ve seen Season Passes in many Games as a Service releases, offering all kinds of additional rewards to those willing to spend a little extra money. To this point, sports games didn’t really feature something similar – although there were plenty of opportunities to spend extra money in 2K already.
The Season Pass in NBA 2K24 comes in two different versions. There’s a Pro Pass priced at $9.99 that offers up to 40 additional Premium Level rewards, with additional VC (Virtual Currency) and other rewards. This is similar to Season Passes in other games, where there’s a “free” path that players can progress in simply by playing the game. Each level would have a specific award once attained, with the Season Pass providing an additional reward on top of the “free” level reward.
There was also a Hall of Fame Pass priced at $19.99 that included everything in the Pro Pass with other exclusive rewards. Purchasers gained a 15% XP Booster that could be used the entire season and also received 10 Level Skips. Those Level Skips do what the name implies – automatically increase your season level by 10 levels.
Taking the parameters from the 2K Season Pass, you can easily envision a similar Pass for MLB The Show 24.
All we need to do is look at the XP Reward Path that currently exists in the game. This is the basic seasonal progression path that pays out rewards as you attain levels throughout the year. A Season Pass would simply pay out an additional reward at each level.
If MLB The Show 24 featured a similarly designed Season Pass, then perhaps an example would look something like this:
At Level 40, players earn the typical Boss Choice Pack we’ve come to expect. If you purchased a base-level Season Pass, perhaps you get an additional 10-pack Bundle once reaching Level 40. If you purchased the Hall of Fame level Pass, you’d get the Boss Choice Pack, 10-pack Show Bundle and perhaps a free “premium” pack that was currently in the store – maybe something like the Retirement Number pack.
Every step of the way, you’d be earning these additional rewards on top of the “normal” rewards.
Of course, the addition of Level Skips and XP Boosts would probably interest many players as well. Hardcore grinders could simply get to rewards quicker than normal, adding highly desired players to their squads before anyone else. Then people like me, who are you usually strapped for time and fall behind easily, would have a chance to “stay caught up” with content.
A natural dilemma here is simply the idea of paying more money for a game that you already own. Naturally, Season Passes are not required and simply pay out extra rewards for those that are interested. Still – the stigma of microtransactions is embedded across gaming, despite the fact that microtransactions themselves are embedded in gaming business and culture. It was always inevitable that microtransactions would evolve into a major component of gaming. To me, that means it’s only inevitable that we’ll see them across all sports games. With 2K taking the plunge in NBA 2K24, it’s reasonable to assume and expect that MLB The Show might follow suit.
As a consumer, I value time equally to money. I work hard for my money, which I earn by spending my time. There’s certainly a part of me that loathes the idea of exchanging money to progress in a game as it flies in the face of what gaming is supposed to be. Then again, when I’m weeks behind in content for MLB The Show, I feel a strange pressure to “back grind” and get caught up – only to still be behind as new content came out in the meantime. Possessing the ability to skip levels or even earn a bit of an XP Boost to make the catching up easier certainly sounds like something I’d be interested in.
The fear of course is that the usual content would be stripped down and minimized, only to make the additional reward levels sound more enticing. Then again – if SDS did incorporate a Season Pass into MLB The Show 24, it would provide a new way for them to deliver content as well.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but if SDS got creative and delivered items like alternate card art, alternate Parallel borders, exclusive team equipment or anything else that added layers of personalization – I’d be down bad. Imagine if you earned a Hall of Fame-exclusive, animated border that you could apply to ANY card? I think there’s a huge, untapped market for that kind of personalization and maybe a Season Pass would be a great way to introduce these types of items.
We won’t know if Season Passes are truly coming to MLB The Show 24 for a while. With NBA 2K24 leading the charge, it would actually give SDS a chance to assess 2K’s approach and add their own twist to cater to Diamond Dynasty players. There would be major whiplash if the usual pace of content was nerfed, only to be included in Season Passes. That’s not really something that would provide value to players. However, if SDS simply upped their own game by adding in unique rewards for those willing to spend a little extra – then Season Passes in MLB The Show 24 might end up being an interesting experiment and feature.
How would you feel about Season Passes coming to MLB The Show? Would you purchase a Season Pass if the rewards were enticing, or would you stick to playing for free? Let us know in the comments!
Cory is a freelance writer that currently features for Operation Sports and ShowZone and has dabbled in streaming from time to time. Cory has been a diehard Atlanta Braves fan since birth and has tortured neighbors and family alike with avid guitar playing for the last twenty years.
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