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Hands down the best way to monetize your game. This concept calls for you to create additional and usually optional content for your game that the user can then purchase to expand the game for a fee. This model is simple, open, clear and fair and has a tremendous amount of flexibility for you and your consumers. This concept couples nicely with every monetization model and is one of the most consumer friendly concepts available.

Most often thought of as DLCs or in the world of MMOs expansions the implementation of this most commonly a matter of DRM or Digital Rights Management wherein a user buys a DLC/Expansion unlocking access to some content. The content its self typically is already in the game thus preventing player base fragmentation and related issues.


Originally this meant "Downloadable Content" though in the modern world its very rare that anything needs to be "downloaded". In most modern examples the DLC is simply a license that unlocks additional content in the game that is already present. In this form DLC is the original and most literal example of "Expansion".

History Lesson

Before Steam we got our games on disk, Expansions where additional disks one could purchase. The expansion content was not already built in because anyone can simply crack a local copy. Their where not "live services" to validate ownership so ownership was assumed by presence of the data its self. DLC where simply expansions you could purchase and download as opposed to requiring a disk, hence the very literal name "downloadable content". The OG DLC still required a "CD Key" this was an early offline way of sort-of validating ownership. When Steam first came around it change everything in terms of how a game developer tested for license

PS ... you do not own any game you did not build Every game you "buy" is actually you buying a consumer license to play said game (or movie, song, TV show, book, etc.) ... not buying the game its self. This is important to understand as a consumer ... you DO NOT OWN the game you have a license which can be cancelled at any time to play said game that has ALWAYS been the case for ALL forms of media. The confusion here simply comes from the transition from a purely physical media period where "license" was closely associated with possessing a physical "copy" which is very much similar to (but different) than "ownership".

Full DLC

When a user hears the term "DLC" most of them will expect a meaningful expansion. That is DLC in the modern age means "expansion" and that means a large chunk of content that in some cases can double the content in a game. These "full DLC" can have price tags similar to that of a "full game" but need to include a significant expansion to the content the player has.

For a practical example of doing this examine the DLC for Witcher 3 Hearts of Stone and Witcher 3 Blood and Wine expansions. These expansions where significant additions of content and could have demanded a near full game price at the time of launch.

Small DLC

These go by many names such as chapter, episode, pack, etc. in terms of practical implementation though they are still just DLC e.g. licenses to some content that each user can purchase exactly once.

For a practical example of doing this examine the DLC for Total War: Warhammer (1, 2 or 3). You will find a great many DLC that add commanders, maps or other small bits of content for a generally smaller price tag.

DLC Hell

A slang used to describe games like Stellaris, Sims and others with a large number of DLC. At the time of this writing it would cost a user around 300โ‚ฌ to fully "buy in" to Stellaris ... meaning if the user wanted all the content they would have spend 300โ‚ฌ. Stellaris is just one example this is a common problem with modern games that can have viable life times over 10 years and thus end up with a rather large library of expansion content.

Using bundles or editions you can reduce the impact of DLC Hell on your user base. That is you can insure that the "full buy in" price for any user rather they are new to your game late in its life or returning after many expansion, that this user can fully join your game's community for a reasonable price.

Heathen's opinion is that 300โ‚ฌ in a single transaction is to high of a price for any game. In the case of Stellaris we would recommend the publisher "Paradox Interactive" create a Dynamic Bundle that discounted the price on all "old" expansions such that a returning player or new player could fully buy in for a more reasonable price. This "Dynamic Bundle" acts like a "Catch Up" enabling all new and returning players to fully buy in for a reasonable rate and to account for any existing content they own. We feel this would encourage more new players to join the community and encourage old players to return. Player's that keep up with expansions as they release would always be paying full price for expansions as the latest expansions would not be discounted. This however distributes the cost over a long period of time. This is very much the same model used by many MMOs where a single price tag gets you the base game and all old expansions and you can pay another chunk to get the latest expansion. Or even better the latest expansion always includes the previous. The objective is the same ... do not price players out with a massive "full buy in" insure that new and returning players can fully join your community for a reasonable price. This is also similar to the "Game of the Year" or "Ultimate" editions other games release where they often wrap all older expansions into the base game for a single fee.

Expansion Bundles

Bundles are a tool that allow you to "bundle" up multiple expansions and or other items and apply a discount making it more attractive to purchase the bundle than each expansion / item independently.

Dynamic Bundles

If your game is going to have multiple DLC rather they be "full" or "small" you should consider offering a bundle so that users can acquire all expansions for 1 lump sum. Platforms like Steam have a feature called "Dynamic Bundle" which is perfect for this. A Dynamic bundle adjusts its price based on what elements of the bundle the user already owns. Dynamic bundles let you side step the DLC Hell problem by insuring that returning user's can "catch up" for a reasonable price and that new users can fully "buy in" for a reasonable price.


This is the practice of re-releasing your game after a long period of time usually with some modernization and typically with some or all expansions rolled into a single price. This is one method for dealing with DLC Hell though is only applicable for older games and where you have made some improvements to the content in contrast to its original release.

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