Zynga, the developer behind the Farmville series and numerous other mobile puzzle and slots games, has taken aim at the implementation of season passes into their titles. Zynga has implemented a ‘battle pass’ system into 13 of its games according to information provided to PocketGamer.biz by them. This system has seen a great deal of success, referring not only to their revenue but also analytics sites such as GameRefinery, who reported that 64% of the top-grossing 100 games in the US charts utilise the battle pass feature.
The company has a large catalogue consisting of well-known titles such as the aforementioned Farmville series, and has begun to push its catalogue further into the mobile sphere after they originally had begun by working with Meta. Senior Director of Central Product Management and Emerging Platforms, Chris Mahoney explained their rationale, “One of the key ways players are engaging with their favourite games is through season passes. We’re seeing deep interest from players of Zynga games to unlock unique content, progression, and challenges by subscribing.”
Season ticket to Success
Season passes are a relatively simple concept that have been utilised in many free-to-play games, a major example being Epic Games’ Fortnite. Sometimes known as ‘battle passes’, they are passes which grant players access to premium content that would usually be locked behind in-game progression. Some titles like Sea of Thieves utilise a two-track progression system, with free rewards for regular players and premium rewards such as in-game currency or cosmetics for those who purchase the season pass.
The way this drives player engagement is by providing an up-front investment and further incentives to continue playing. Unlike pay to win or pay to unlock, this means a player will more likely be retained for longer term play, in order to continue unlocking items on the season pass. Although most console or PC gamers will know them from games with cosmetic progression, the GameRefinery article explains, “Battle passes can be introduced into almost any genre, whether the game’s monetization relies, for example, on a cosmetic economy (competitive shooters, MOBAs), power progression (RPGs, Strategy), or consumable boosters (casual puzzlers).”
As we previously reported, this sentiment was also confirmed by Sensor Tower back in 2021. They pointed to major titles such as Genshin Impact, Honor of Kings and PUBG mobile as key examples. They also pointed to Lords Mobile and Hay Day as successful examples of implementation.