What is in Season 01 for Deep Rock Galactic?
Season 01 basically covers all the new content that is released with the next big update for Deep Rock Galactic. It includes a new challenging mission, new mission events, a 100% FREE Battle-Pass-like progression system, four new primary weapons, new enemies, and a truckload of new cosmetics.
For all the juicy details on the contents and features of Season 01, please read the Patch Notes here.
Why are you calling it Season 01 and not just Update 35?
Deep Rock Galactic has evolved so much in just a year and a half since we launched, and entering into ‘Seasons’ represents the biggest change yet in how we bring new and exciting content to players. There are many reasons for this shift.
We wanted to be better at theming our updating and binding things more coherently together. Deep Rock Galactic has never been a game where we told a certain story, but we really love to create and implement new features that, seen together, can string your own stories. In the case of Season One, we are introducing the idea of a rival company on Hoxxes and then tied all the new content into that framing. Season Two will do the same, though we don’t know yet what the theme will be. We often draw inspiration from reading the stories and ideas our fans create and post online, so it’s always better for us to wait and see how the next iteration of the game is received before we start planning.
We also wanted to create a bigger splash around releasing an update. And calling something Update 35 just doesn’t make it very interesting to people outside of the game - it sounds like it’s maybe only for all the existing fans. So by calling it Season 01, we are creating a better reason for joining in as a new player. It’s a well-known concept from other games and therefore needs little explanation.
The concept of a Season also adds in a sense of urgency to participate - even if our season is going to be stretched for several months. We have previously felt that our updates did not gather the attention and momentum we expected, so we hope that this will work better with a more specific end goal built around the 100% free Battle-Pass-like progression system. We are aware that other games are doing this purely to monetize their players, so therefore we are focusing on just playing on the positive aspects of these concepts.
Why are you making a Performance Pass?
We are introducing the Performance Pass as a design solution to engage and reward players, new or old, with cosmetic items - instead of letting those new cosmetic items drown in the Shop and be unattainable for new players. In previous big updates, we simply just added all the cool new cosmetic items to the Shop terminal in the Space Rig. The Shop inventory is already pretty big, so new items tend to drown in there. For veteran players with a lot of resources piled up, any new item can be acquired without much thought - so not much fun in that. And for new players, these new cosmetic items were competing in cost with the gameplay upgrades and mostly lost out to that choice. So, we didn’t feel that the new cosmetic items added as much to the game as we felt they should.
The concept of the Performance Pass solves this by turning the cosmetic items into rewards for simply playing the game. This works for both new players and veteran players, and both will hopefully have more joy with actually acquiring these cosmetic items through gameplay than by just purchasing them with credits. The levels and xp-like nature of the Performance Points creates a sense of progression and the Cosmetic Tree creates clear goals with some built-in player choice. It’s a light system but still built to create more engagement than just clicking the buy button in the Shop.
Is it really 100% free? What’s the catch?
The reason we call it 100% FREE is simply because a Battle-Pass-like feature is usually monetized. Our intention with the Performance Pass is to solve a design issue (see the answer on why we are making it above) and to engage players for a longer time. We always want to be fair and transparent with our community, and monetizing this mechanic doesn’t fit in our objectives for this addition to the game.. Also, the game itself costs money and you can always choose to buy the cosmetics DLCs to show your appreciation for this model. Or buy the DLC simply because you want the cool cosmetics inside them - that’s fair as well!.
How much content is there in the Performance Pass?
The Performance Pass consists of 100 levels which each will reward players with either resources, cosmetics, or the new Company Scrip token, which is used to unlock more content in the Cosmetic Tree. For the cosmetic content alone, we tallied it up, and this is what you can get if you complete everything:
25 hats, hairdos, and beards
6 pickaxe parts(Video) Beginner's Guide to Deep Rock Galactic
3 victory moves
1 Bosco Framework
20 weapon frameworks
How long will it take to complete the Performance Pass?
The time to complete the Performance Pass will vary quite a bit from player to player, and it will likely take longer for new players than for experienced players. Our goal is roughly 1 hour (on average) to complete a level, so 100 hours in total. Season 01 will run for 4-5 months, so there should be plenty of time to progress through the Performance Pass. We have designed the Cosmetic Tree and the rewards assuming that many players might only complete a fraction, and they should still get some good value. It is not the intention that a majority of players will complete the Performance pass.
We have implemented metric collection on the Performance Pass progression. We will adjust the Point values during the Experimental Branch phase and when Season 01 has gone live to make sure we hit the right progression speed. We will, as always, listen to your feedback on this, but it is one of those things where numbers speak louder than words. Also, if we observe outright loopholes or unfun forced play patterns as a result of optimizing for Performance Points, we will address it and implement fixes.
Are you doing this feature because you got acquired?
Short answer, no, this has been in the works throughout 2021 and is a part of our long-term vision for the game.
Longer answer: We have been working on Season 01 and the Performance Pass mechanics since the early part of 2021. This was done in collaboration with Coffee Stain Publishing and with a goal of creating a much larger update and a splash of attention when we were to release it later in the year. The acquisition of Ghost Ship Games by Embracer Group happened in the middle of the year, so the whole concept and design were already underway at that point. Furthermore, Embracer Group is very hands-off with their acquisitions, and now that we have been under their ownership for some months, we can confirm that it is also the case for us. Ghost Ship will in collaboration with Coffee Stain be the decision-makers on how to evolve Deep Rock Galactic for years to come.
When will the next Season and Performance Pass be available?
We will release a new Roadmap shortly after the release of Season 01. And it will have a target release for Season 02, though it will not be super precise. Since Season 01 got a bit delayed the most likely target is at the end of Q1 or the start of Q2, so that would be March or April 2022.
Will it continue to be free or are you going to eventually charge for future Performance Passes?
Charging money for the Performance Pass is not part of our current business plan. The reasoning behind this is explained in the answer above for why it is 100% free.
Is DRG turning into a Free-to-Play game?
Short answer, no.
Longer answer: We started Ghost Ship Games to create the games we wanted to play ourselves and we chose the Early Access route on Steam with a premium-game business model as it aligned with the vision we had for Ghost Ship. We wanted to develop a game in collaboration with you, the fans, but to do so you have to also have a commitment from the fans. This does not gel well with a free-to-play business model, so it was never really a discussion point.
Will you also be introducing hard currency or other monetization schemes?
No. The idea of a Season and the Performance Pass was introduced to create a better way for us to frame an update and to engage you, our devoted players, for a longer time. If that works as planned, then that is indirectly a way of monetizing our existing players: the more the game is played, the more popular it becomes, the more it sells to new players. That is the simple business logic behind this and it doesn't include a need to also monetize existing players beyond the cosmetic DLCs.
Is all of the content in the Performance Pass going to be time-limited or can I get it after the season is over?
When Season 01 is over, all the cosmetics that you didn't claim will go back into the game in various ways. Season 01 should last for several months, so there will be plenty of time to get what you need. But should you miss out on some of the rewards, then when Season 02 starts, there will be various ways you could acquire the unclaimed items. Some of them might go into Lost Crates, others might go into Matrix Cores. And others might go into something new we have yet to implement. Just be sure that it will not be lost.