Red Dead Online’s season passes should become a live service standard

There’s something to be said about making games shorter overall. The older you get, the less time you have to sink into a 40-hour long game. You have work to do, bills to pay, and generally don’t want to spend all three or four of your free hours over the course of a day in front of a screen.

But a lot of games, especially live-service titles, want you nowhere else. They want you stuck in front of your monitor or TV, playing. More ideally, they want you progressing through a battle or season pass — some massive ladder of rewards, cosmetics, and other nebulous extras with a flashy prize at the end. It’s only natural to want to reach the end. After all, why purchase a game’s battle/season pass and not finish it? We may tell ourselves that we’ll reach the final rank, but that’s a spur-of-the-moment decision every time. Life has a mind of its own and often decides that we can’t dedicate tens of hours to a game to complete a hundred-rank pass.

I don’t think the right solution to this problem is telling people to change their lives so they can start finishing these passes they spend upwards of $5 on. Instead, passes need to adapt and fit our lives. That’s why when Rockstar announced the Blood Money update for Red Dead Online, I was especially excited for the new, compact passes that would come with it.

The game’s standard pass system, the Wheeler, Rawson & Co. Club Pass, is as long as its name. The season passes last around three months total and have upwards of 75 ranks, with the second such pass featuring a whopping 100 to progress through. While a pass that size means players get a ton of rewards, they also have to sink hours upon hours into Red Dead Online to actually finish it. I feel like that’s not something I, along with a ton of other people, have time for.

Red Dead Online's Quick Draw Club season pass.

Instead, players can now buy a Quick Draw Club Pass. It started on July 13 and runs until August 9. The best part? It only consists of 25 ranks. It’s compact and lets players breeze through every rank easily over the course of about 10 hours. For a person that can’t sink tons of hours into a game, this is pretty much the perfect alternative to the gargantuan passes in games like Fortnite.

In fact, it’s not clear why the industry standard for passes doesn’t shift to something much smaller like the Quick Draw Club Pass. For instance, Call of Duty: Warzone‘s latest season pass is a full 100 ranks, which is extremely difficult to progress through if you’re only playing Warzone. A smaller battle pass would leave players with a filled-out pass and all the cosmetics they want, and even give developers the chance to sell more battle passes.

We shouldn’t have to work to fill out passes for games; they should work for us. Logging in to your favorite game to play doesn’t need to feel like a chore, and thanks in part to its new, compact pass, Red Dead Online isn’t one anymore. I’m not concerned with how much XP I’m getting because I know that regardless of what I do, I’ll be able to complete the entire thing. That experience needs to extend out from Red Dead Online into other live service titles.

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