To DLC or not to DLC?

So following a discussion we had in the CKII thread, around my reticence to buy games when they come out if they say they plan to release DLC for it, and a pattern i see emerging for those games where i wait for a later bundled version that includes all the DLC, what do you feel about DLC?

I voted for option 1, even though probably i’m more into option 3.

DLC is not working for me (or the devs that want my money!). So just from that i’d prefer to see bigger, juicer expansion packs make a return to popularity, that way i’m more inclined to feel the original released game will be a more complete and full version of the original game design, and the expansion packs will simply be adding more to that base.

Currently i feel DLC (in the way it is often used) is mostly often stuff that could have been in the base game, but to ‘monitize’ the situation the term DLC has been created to get better financial leverage out of your customer. Why wait for sales to get a bunch of stuff that probably could/should have been included in the game in the first place?

I want to support the dev as a priority, but DLC confuses the issue somewhat, now i feel i’m being gamed by a dev’s accountants rather than being the gamer looking forward to a cool game!

Fight the future! I would rather dlc be expansions of yester year but don’t see a return to that anytime soon.

I dislike the inconvenience of having to purchase many small packages, and the research needed to determine the value or impact of each. Just look at something like the ‘Sleeping Dogs’ Steam page for example, so many tiny things it actually put me off buying the game. I much prefer fewer, more meaningful content additions.

Another thing I don’t like is the ‘retailer bonus’ system, where you get different exclusive content based on where you purchase. Mind you, this is usually what I consider ‘cheat’ stuff so I will not even use it where possible, but it is annoying none the less.

I don’t mind dlc, stuff like the Borderlands 2 is value for money however the small stuff I have no interest in and ignore it. There is still room for expansions as well, Civ V has dlc and an expansion, I have some of the dlc and the expansion but not the stuff I have no interest in.

I just see them as the same thing these days - expansion and DLC is synonymous, since it is just a delivery mechanism. Who is to say how much content or how many new features constitutes an ‘expansion’ anyway? Regardless, each is an additional product and should be weighed on its own merits. It’s not what it’s called that matters, it’s what value it adds to the game or experience. I will never pay for cosmetic shit in a game, but if something adds features or game content, I’ll consider it. If a GOTY comes with all the DLC, I’ll not complain.

That said, any fixes to vanilla gameplay should not be exclusive to DLC - I consider that part of the support lifecycle of the game.

I guess the real issue is whether ‘base’ content or features are being specifically held back with the intention of being offered as DLC. I am sure there have been cases of that, just as I am sure there are features added in DLC that were culled simply due to time and budget constraints and may never have seen the light of day otherwise. Got to take the good with the bad, I suppose.

There’s big and small DLC. My gut instinct is to complain that DLC is a rip off, but really, market forces have worked out pretty well. I skip all the DLC that is just reskins, etc, and buy those that add significant new content (almost like expansions of yesteryear). And if I will myself to ignore a game for a good while, chances are that the goatee edition has all the DLC bundled in anyway.

I would argue that expansion vs. DLC is less about the delivery mechanism (everything is digital these days), and more about the size of the content bundle that you need to buy. I associate DLC with the “a la carte” model, and expansion packs with the “here is a larger, more expensive chunk of content”.

I prefer expansion packs for two reasons: It feels like I’m getting the “complete” experience, and it doesn’t fragment the player experience as much. To pick on Capcom for a moment, imagine what Mega Man would be like if you got 4 of the 12 bosses with the game, but each of the rest were available for individual purchase?

Realistically, you will never get anything deep or well trough for 9$ in a AAA game. Cocaine, whores, bribing Kenya guards so the executives are allowed to pet lions, … all these stuff is very expensive.

You can get a whole game for 9$, If is indie,… but the dude has ben living with his parent, and skipping a few days of feeding himself, and maybe drives a second hand bicycle.

20 $ or 30 $ is more the price that would give you some meaningful piece of content that is fun to play and can be tasted for longer than 2 hours, perhaps about 7 hours of content, maybe more in a openworld-ish game.

DLC’s only works if you have more money than brain, and have not problem paying a very low enjoyment/$. But even then,… since are very small bytes of content, I find then shallow and unfullfilling.

Heh, Zak, if you spell it out like that, I guess I’d generally prefer ye olde expansions.
The discussion in the CK2 thread was more about that games specific DLC model, which is one of the most reasonable out there.
Music and portraits I couldn’t care less about alongside relatively substantial stuff, all reasonably priced and often at sale for an even more reasonable price tag.

The mini-addition type of DLC (those tiny packs adding a weapon or two, a reskin of something existing or anything along these lines) don’t work for me at all. I’d never purchase them unless it’s for a couple of cents, usually in a collection of sorts with other, more meaningful DLCs.

Small-scale expansion type DLCs, that actually COULD have been part of the main game or an expansion, but generally would be too light on content to actually be an expansion by itself - the FO3 DLCs come to mind - usually do not work for me for a different reason: they come as a tickle.
I’d finished FO3 by the time the first DLC came around, and in a huge, open-world type of game, this more often than not means the game is shelved indefinately. I often go back to these games, but usually years later. So the whole “earn some more money from existing customers” purpose kinda falls apart, as I’ll more likely get the entire package (sometimes including the main game again= for a miniscule price years later in this scenario.

CK2 is a special case, since it’s a game you don’t play through once and then are done with “forever”. Kinda like Civ5. Had I liked Civ5 more, I guess I’d also be fond of their DLC model. Though I had a feeling the new civilizations were released at a snails pace.

The worst DLCs to me are those that totally miss the point, such as the XCOM DLC. Some new static missions are/were the last thing this game needed.

Voted for the “It’s not Black and White” option.


It’s not black & white to me. I used to hate DLC, but that was when the concept was young and we had a lot of variance between prices and content and publishers were conducting “experiments” to see how to do it right. (Hello, Horse Armor!) I used to do a lot of reading about which DLC bit had what and wheter or not it was good enough to buy. It was a hassle.

Now, I love it. Most DLC has standardized prices that allow me to easily tell whether or not something is substantial enough to bother with. For example, if I see that the regular price is $2 or less, I know it’s likely just some cosmetic thing and I can pass it up without caring. I mostly buy from Steam, Amazon, or GMG so any DLC that is desirable will be on sale for half or 75% off in a few months! Win/win for me.

I’d love regular expansion packs to make a comeback, but I understand that it will never happen. There’s just too much money in dripping it out over smaller packages.

The problem with DLC for me is this:
I play a game for a while and then I get bored of it and start to play something else. Then some DLC comes out to the game and adds some new missions or a small area to explore. Just a few hours of content.

So the question is: Do I wan’t to replay a game I am bored of for many hours just to get to the “new” content which I will blow through in a few hours? The answer in general is NO. Hence I never buy DLC for a game I already played.

The only exception to this has been Fallout 3 GOTY. I played FO3 until I was bored of it. Then many years went by and I forgot much of the experience of the game when I picked up the GOTY for $5 on Steam.

Id much rather have a full expansion pack that adds many, many hours game-play in one shot. The last game that I could do this with was Titian Quest: Immortal Throne.

It has influenced my buying habits. I am generally much more supportive of companies that don’t DLC- and it makes me more likely to buy full price.

If I think DLC is coming down the pike (though this depends on the DLC), I tend to wait for a sale.

A MP game I’m more likely to buy DLC for, but DLC is also more liekly to make me not buy the game period. There have been a few games I decided to pass on entirely due to DLC.

There are exceptions- like VF5FS on PS3/360, where they had to split the game up due to stupid XBLA size regulations, so you bought the full game for a max of $45 (they had a launch deal on PS3 for $30) or a basic version for $15, but it was meant to be a full-price game. I’m ok with that. Same with Fallen Enchantress, I didn’t mind the DLC as much due to all the free copies they gave out.

I’m really not a fan of sprite pack/music pack DLC. Customization equipment in fighting games is OK though, if it’s any character (SC5)- stuff like $5 for Glasses in Persona is dumb.


For something like Civ 5 or Warlock, DLC makes perfect sense to me. Want to add some spice to your next game? Buy a new faction. Same for any game that’s about individual sessions/missions.

For things that are a big, long single experience (e.g. single player RPGs) DLC makes less sense unless it’s available at the beginning. I’m not going to go back to a game I finished months ago to experience some short, minor chunk of content that doesn’t really fit into the whole to begin with …

but that exact same argument applies to old fashioned expansion packs as well. Which is why I would buy them for strategy games, but almost never buy them for RPGs. (What I will buy is full new experiences based on an existing engine e.g. Fallout New Vegas or Ass Cred Brotherhood.)

Option 3, but leaning toward option 1.

Basically my ideal DLC is what used to be an expansion pack - a substantial amount of new content and revisions (hopefully improvements) to core gameplay mechanics. The sort of thing that Paradox puts out for EU 3, for instance, but ideally without the unfinished original release bit. Or, to a lesser degree, the GTA 4 DLC.

My absolute worst DLC is nickel-and-diming skins/units/factions releases, especially when these come at the expense of allowing/facilitating modding. Same for map packs as opposed to releasing mapmaking tools. Worst example - Cities in Motion.

In between, and perfectly acceptable but not ideal, are things like Borderlands 2 content releases, which don’t do a whole lot beyond allow you to play the same game in the same way for longer, but do that very well.

I voted option 3.
Personally, I usually only buy DLC that adds substance to a game. I skip extra artwork, songs,etc. For a game like Sleeping Dogs I skipped the extra missions too because I didn’t like the game enough to just want to play more missions. I like DLC that adds new mechanics (ala Civ V Gods and Kings), new factions, or anything that adds replayability to an already good game.

I’m not against the smaller DLC that is just fluff as long as it is clear that is what it is. If people want to spend money on horse armor than that is fine with me. Maybe that keeps the cost of games down if people spend money on the fluff, so in the end it may save me money.

It does bother me if there are features I feel have been withheld from a game just so it can be released as DLC. Specially if it feels like it is core to having a complete game. I can’t think of any examples of this so I don’t know if this really happens, although it is a fear.

I voted “depends” as well for the reasons everyone else has stated. The fact that no one has yet voted “It is superdy duper” speaks to the fact that it can be horribly abused and implemented and we are all afraid that meaningful new content may never show up if the developers can make money parsing out new skins and a faction here and there.

Rather than looking at it objectively, think about the DLC you’ve purchased. Was it worth your time? I can’t think of anything I played that was better than decent-to-good. I consider that a danger zone where videogame content is good enough to fill time but I wouldn’t miss anything if I skipped it.

(This excludes Unity of Command: Red Turn, which was really an expansion pack they called DLC.)

Regarding expansion packs, don’t forget the expandalone trend. Those are usually worthy games. So the industry has split an in-between expansion pack into smaller chunks of DLC and larger standalone releases.

The irony here is this… We swapped away from doing expansions to make it better for the customers.

a) The ck2 dlc system gives away over 50% of all new features for free in patches, which is possible when you have a modular system.

b) You are not forced to buy new expansions every 12 months to get bugfixes and AI improvements, as the code is the same.

From a personal/non-professional standpoint though, I buy stuff I find interesting, and give me some sort of satisfaction. It doesn’t matter if its a 20€ mount for WoW or a 1.99$ classic game in a Steam Sale.

What some folks won’t choose to remember, though, it that back during Ye Golden Age of Expansions, there were also plenty of cases of people complaining that a particular expansion wasn’t worth the asking price, just had some lame maps and reskinned units, was just a cash grab, etc. etc.