Is a 4000 point season pass too much of a push? Horizon says no

Forza Horizon is getting a 4000 point season pass which allows for a whole heap of additional content, but is it a bit too much of a marketing push considering it’s almost the same price as the retail game and promoted before the game hits store shelves?

Firstly let’s just look at the costing. 4000 Microsoft points will cost gamers (based in the UK but applicable to any country) who purchase the points from within the  Xbox dashboard £17 for 2000 MSP or £42.50 for 5000 points – so as an rough figure £34 for arguments sake. Naturally, gamers who search for online deals will probably be able to shave off a few pounds here and there.

So what does the Horizon season pass offer?

The pass will give automatic access to the Forza Horizon Expansion Pack (which will be available as soon as Dec. 18th 2012) along with six game car packs as they release through to next year. Each car pack will include 6 new vehicles, but season pass holders will also get access to 5 exclusive vehicles and the launch day pack.

The idea that gamers who adopt the season pass get extras and will make some savings over buying each piece of individual content is good, but with the game not even released yet, is it a bit much to expect the most dedicated gamers to fork out on more content so soon?  £70 might not be seen as that expensive compared to some games of the past, and even popular shooters which provide additional content by the bucketload use a similar model successfully; but what message does it send out  about the content included with the retail product and whether any potential unlockables are instead used as downloadable content (DLC). It’s an ongoing issue for a  number of games which support DLC, which often leaves a sour taste when promoted heavily before a game is released.

DLC might keep a game fresh for those who pump hours into the retail product and are hungry for more content, and no doubt Playground Games and Microsoft will be keen to highlight  post-release support for their game – which is commendable –  but in some instances, season passes can be seen as a  bit too much  of a marketing push  considering their pricing and the fact that the most passionate fans of the game are more likely to purchase the DLC.  It’s a bit of a catch 22 scenario as season pass sales will act as clear indication of commitment from fans, but in this case to spend almost £70 on one game from the offset is quite a challenge to accept regardless of how credible the offer is.There’s also potential for a two tiered community where those who can afford to splash out on extras are mixed with those who cannot, leaving an unbalanced edge to what technically should be a competitively fair experience.

In Forza Horizon’s defence, the add-on pack looks set to offer a lot more playtime to the basic package, and is likely to be good value – and more importantly – the DLC isn’t critical to the Horizon experience. It’s an optional extra that will no doubt be discounted further down the line. Whilst some might see the actions of post-release DLC as fleecing the more dedicated fans, the idea of desirability and choice shouldn’t be overlook, and in this case is Horizon’s pass simply providing an offer for those who can afford to take it, but not at the expense of those who can’t.

Forza Horizon releases next month and regardless of season passes and DLC, the core game is shaping up to be a gripping and adventurous detour for the serious racing series.

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.