• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


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Pallidum

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Hi, I’m Pallidum Treponema, the Empress of DLC for the Paradox Development Studio games. I was asked to write a few words on the subject of our DLCs.

Back when we released Crusader Kings II, we also introduced a new DLC model. Instead of continuing with the old-school Expansion model, where each expansion would be a big release that effectively replaced the old base game, we wanted to build our DLCs and expansions in a more modular format. Rather than each new expansion requiring all the previous expansions and new features and bugfixes only being available to those who had bought it all, the new model would allow us to continuously update the base game and distribute expansions as optional DLCs, where a player could pick and choose which ones they wanted to buy.

We also wanted to separate gameplay features, which we would put into the expansions, and cosmetic content, which we would put into smaller, separate DLCs. This was done because by the time of the Crusader Kings II release, we were at a position where we could create a much improved visual experience than we had been able to do before.

In the strategy game genre, especially with deep and complex strategy games, graphics is often a neglected feature. Graphics cost a lot to create and for a niche genre, where sales volumes are traditionally far smaller than that of more mainstream titles, production costs are a very big deal.

The separation between gameplay focused expansions and cosmetic additions that our new model provided us meant that we had a lot more freedom to produce content in a way we were comfortable with, and allowed us to produce both gameplay features and graphical content in ways that we previously could not have done.

It also allowed more freedom for our fans as those who wanted to play our games for the gameplay alone could choose to buy the expansions and ignore the cosmetic additions. They wouldn't have to pay for the cosmetic additions that we could now create, but they might not be interested in. Similarly, someone who wanted to enhance the visual aesthetics of their game could choose to do so without having to buy expansions that they might not care for.

This model isn’t without its own flaws, however. Whenever we release an expansion, we have to balance what goes into the expansion and what will be available as a free patch to the main game. We want to give the players value for their money, so that those who buy the expansions feel they’re receiving what they expected. At the same time, we don’t leave players who only have the base game unable to play the game properly. We also need to account for players who own one expansion, but not another, so that the game doesn’t break when features from one expansion depends on another.


Why aren’t unit packs and portraits included in the expansions?

This is a common question. As mentioned above, we wanted to give both ourselves and our fans more freedom in what we could do.

We could technically add the cosmetic content to the expansions, that’s easy enough. That would, however, require us to charge more for them. We'd need to combine the separate DLCs into larger packages, much like the old expansions. While this would make the list of DLCs more manageable, a good thing in itself, it'd also mean that our fans would have less choice which would be a bad thing.

I should also mention that while we do stick to the guideline of separating cosmetic content and gameplay expansions for the most parts, there have also been exceptions. For example, in the case of the Charlemagne or Rajas of India expansions for Crusader Kings II, we felt that the new changes to the game were so big that we needed to show them visually. In the case of the Charlemagne expansion, we included no less than three new unit packs with the expansion itself. This obviously meant that the Charlemagne expansion cost us more to produce than if we had sold it without the unit packs, but we felt that it was the right thing to do.


The amount of DLCs available

Another common point, often expressed as a complaint about DLC bloat, is that there are too many DLCs. This is an unfortunate result of our model of selling cosmetic DLCs separately. We could mitigate this by including the content in the expansions, which for reasons explained above, is not something we want to do, or we could simply not produce any more content, which is definitely not something we want to do.

I absolutely agree that the list of DLCs that we produce for the games can be a bit unwieldy. Ultimately, however, I think that this is mostly a presentation problem. Making it easier to find what to buy and what you own would resolve most of the problem with “DLC Bloat”, and I think most of our fans want us to make more content available, not less.


Features stripped from the game to sell later

The nefarious evil mastermind in me would love to strip out features such as AI, main menus, mouse pointers and other necessary parts of the games to sell later to desperate fans, but the truth is, if we did this, we wouldn’t be selling many copies of our games. Still, this is a common complaint raised about DLCs. While I can’t speak for other developers, I’m of the firm belief that stripping out a feature that we have spent a lot of time making, to MAYBE sell it later to fans who, at that point may no longer be fans, is not really good business practice.

For various reasons, we may every now and then have to cut features from a game, for example because we don’t have time to make them justice, or because they didn’t work out as we had planned, but rest assured that I’m not in the habit of making a good game bad because of dubious business practices that is more likely than not to have legions of fans descend upon my secret underground lair.


What about the future?

There will be more DLCs. That, I can say for certain. How many? I don’t know. As long as our fans keep buying DLCs to fund my secret plans for world domination, and sadly also pay for food and shelter for my coworkers and other minions, we’ll keep producing DLCs.

Future DLCs may or may not follow the same model. We’re continuously evaluating what’s working and what isn’t, and we may change or tweak our model as we try to improve how it works both for ourselves and for our fans.
All in all, I think our DLC model has served us well, and while it’s not perfect, I think that it’s better than most alternatives. It does seem to be popular among our fans, which is good because a horde of loyal fans is essential for…. various reasons.

Or has it? Let me know what you think. I non-nefariously want to know who disagrees with me and why. Obviously for benign reasons, of course.
 
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Augustus93

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I think that there are too many DLCs. It is mainly a problem when buying them as steam does not tell me which DLCs I own and which I don't. On one hand I agree with you on the updating the base game, but the problem is when you as a customer does not want to update to the new patch as you rather prefer the older patch.
 
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Pallidum

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Yes, probably the best feature they added in that update. And in itself it does a lot to address the DLC bloat problem mentioned in the OP.
As I wrote, it's mainly a presentation problem. If the presentation is made better, so that people can find what they want to buy, much of the problem goes away. I can think of a few other things that could be improved as well, but that's for another time and place. Today is Take Over The World Day. :D
 

grisamentum

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The nefarious evil mastermind in me would love to strip out features such as AI, main menus, mouse pointers and other necessary parts of the games to sell later to desperate fans, but the truth is, if we did this, we wouldn’t be selling many copies of our games. Still, this is a common complaint raised about DLCs. While I can’t speak for other developers, I’m of the firm belief that stripping out a feature that we have spent a lot of time making, to MAYBE sell it later to fans who, at that point may no longer be fans, is not really good business practice.

For various reasons, we may every now and then have to cut features from a game, for example because we don’t have time to make them justice, or because they didn’t work out as we had planned, but rest assured that I’m not in the habit of making a good game bad because of dubious business practices that is more likely than not to have legions of fans descend upon my secret underground lair.


(...)

Or has it? Let me know what you think. I non-nefariously want to know who disagrees with me and why. Obviously for benign reasons, of course.
Let's be honest: you're not selling many copies of your games. Even with a surprise hit like CK2 creating a platform to sell EU4, and favorable coverage at places like rockpapershotgun (that didn't exist a few years ago), you're not even selling 1/10th the copies of Rome II or Civilization Beyond Earth. Not that those are better games! But people just aren't buying EU4 anywhere near as much as other strategy games.

Another big complaint is that your games actually cost MORE once you figure in all the DLC. EU4 + gameplay DLC (not even cosmetic!!) costs far more than Civ 5 + 2 expansions and all DLC. Same with CK2. Once you add in cosmetic, the comparison is even worse.

The bigger complaint is that the features you are adding make the game much easier than it would be. It's not optional DLC; it's power DLC. Like retinues in CK2:LoR or monarch focus in EU4's DLC.

It seems like your DLC approach makes your games more expensive, less played, and unfair to people who don't want the DLC.
 
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butterbumps

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Another big complaint is that your games actually cost MORE once you figure in all the DLC. EU4 + gameplay DLC (not even cosmetic!!) costs far more than Civ 5 + 2 expansions and all DLC. Same with CK2. Once you add in cosmetic, the comparison is even worse.
A possible solution to this issue (which would incidentally help with the bloat problem too) is to bundle all DLCs older than a certain point for free with the base game. Similar to the approach that Blizzard has been taking with WoW expansions.
 
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The ONLY DLC's I have ever thought that should really have been included in the base game is the dynasty shields for CK2. Why do I have to pay to get an accurate flag for a historical game? I own two of these because well...historical accuracy, but they are truly the only ones I have ever looked at and moaned about having to buy. Everything else is pretty much superfluous and I got no problem paying for unit packs, music packs and whatnot.

I personally quite like the Paradox DLC model for the most part. It just seems like now some much needed fixes that "are fixed internally" don't get released cause in two months there is a DLC so it will all get done at once. I kinda understand that, but from a consumer point of view I got a product that is known to be flawed and there is a fix RIGHT THERE but I can't have it yet because there is a DLC coming in two months, so just be patient and play this game we know to be bugged until then. Couldn't we get a small patch just to deal with a few things till then? As a gamer it is very frustrating to know that that bug is fixed and yet not for two months sometimes.

I also highly endorse the idea of packs, it would make it a lot easier for people to get in to the game. I am just starting to get my room mate into Paradox, having introduced him to HoI3. He has taken a look at the list of stuff for CK2 and EU4 and been completely turned off of the amount of DLC he'll have to buy all at once and that there are no bundles. It makes buying all this stuff a little overwhelming and honestly only during Steam summer/winter sales would I ever even think about buying that much stuff for any game at once.
 
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DerOstkonig

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I'm tired of CKII and EUIV getting broken every time you guys release a DLC for them.

I wish you guys would just release big and concise expansions like the industry used to, and give your customers some regularity in the game mechanics and level of bugs present.

I know you guys aren't doing this only for the money (though you even admitted this is part of it, and I understand that), and I really appreciate that you guys add to the game with the free patches. But if they have to be so frequent, and if we are forced to use something like Steam that auto-updates our game (even though you guys have the beta patch, the game still auto updates then must be reverted to a patch that may or may not remain up), then you really must step up your Quality Assurance to make releases as bug-free as they were at the original release of the game (CKII and EUIV releases- amazing, triple A quality releases, DLC releases- comparable to Early Access beta patches).

I have bought into the most recent cycle of DLC from you guys in a vote of confidence that you care about our feelings, and that you have the ability to improve the quality of your releases to the levels that you had achieved with the releases of your two flagship games, and there has been some improvement in the speed at which you are stamping out DLC bugs. But if you guys don't keep up steadily regaining the QA momentum that your initial releases had, then I will just take my money elsewhere. Because when I make a game purchase, I am not purchasing it to play later, when you folks are ready to give me a working product, I want access to all the features promised, working as advertised, immediately upon purchase. This is something that I have grown to expect from other companies on Steam who advertise their titles as complete.

Also, I am kind of shocked at your companies' apparent opinion that certain DLC are not important enough to be fixed. This is currently true of the American Dream DLC for EU IV from what I understand, and I know firsthand that it was true of several cosmetic DLC for Crusader Kings II for over 3 months prior to the Charlemagne release. This is also periodically true of the CKII-EUIV converter, as it is currently. One of the most alarming facets of the departure from the traditional expansion model to the micro-DLC model is that idea that small DLC are just not worth the time to fix. This practice effectively tells consumers that there is no guarantee that the value they have attained from their purchases will continue to remain static, as the product may one day just be dropped, with no redemption in sight.

I really hope that you folks at Paradox making the business decisions realize that your games are expected to be a Product, not a Service, as they are marketed as single-player offline games primarily. It is normal to expect online games to be subject to constant change and instability/irregularity, but when many consumers opt to purchase an single-player, offline game, they expect to truly own the product and access it as they see fit, without the worry that something they paid for may or may not be continued into the future.

If you have read all of that, I thank you, and overall, I applaud both the CKII and EU IV dev teams for their hard work, but as a customer it is my duty to make it known if I feel like my content is compromised by the actions of the content provider. I hope that in the future, you all will think about your products in perspective with the other great Strategy titles of the last 10 years, and re-evaluate your implementation of DLC and Patching.
 
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sgt.stickybomb

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Some DLC just seem like they were meant to be in the base game.
For example the Muslim portrait DLC for EU4 or the skin packs for CK2
 
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Pallidum

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Another big complaint is that your games actually cost MORE once you figure in all the DLC. EU4 + gameplay DLC (not even cosmetic!!) costs far more than Civ 5 + 2 expansions and all DLC. Same with CK2. Once you add in cosmetic, the comparison is even worse.
This comparison does come up every now and then and while I don't like to compare us with other games, because every game is different, there's certain flaws in your argument.

EU4 retailed for $40 and the two most expensive EU4 expansions are $15 and $20 respectively. Civ 5 retailed for $60, since then dropped to $30, and the two expansions are $30 each. Both games have additional DLCs, the total of which are currently roughly the same. Again, I don't like this comparison, as you'd then need to quantify the value of the content of the different games - is the gameplay of a Civ expansion worth more than the gameplay of an EU expansion? Is one better than the other because there's more lines in the patchnotes?

Then there's the argument that since we're making more content, it makes the game more expensive. That's also a flawed logic. The game isn't more expensive. It's the same price as it was at release, or even (as with Civ) lower. The difference is that there's now more game available for you to purchase, in the form of expansions.

I mean, if we want to rank a game's worth by adding up all the possible DLCs, Train Simulator beats almost every other game by far.


The bigger complaint is that the features you are adding make the game much easier than it would be. It's not optional DLC; it's power DLC. Like retinues in CK2:LoR or monarch focus in EU4's DLC.

It seems like your DLC approach makes your games more expensive, less played, and unfair to people who don't want the DLC.
As I said, the balance between paid and free features is not always perfect. We do make mistakes from time to time. As for making it unfair, I don't agree. After all, people who don't want the DLCs don't really lose out, do they? If you didn't have a feature before, why would you lose out by it now being available as an option? Someone who doesn't want the DLC still get free patches, usually with older versions of the game available through Steam's "beta" feature, for those who don't want to upgrade. The free patches add a lot of features to the base game. With the old model, those people wouldn't get any free patches. To get bugfixes and updates, they would have to buy the latest expansion, and potentially all expansions that preceded the latest one. That would be far more expensive for someone who only wanted one DLC, or perhaps none at all.
 
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tapewormlondon

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Look, you are going to get moaned at no matter how you package the DLC. My personal opinion is that this model is fair to all. As long as you are careful about what is "free" and what is pais for. I had a huge problem with auto cardinals being paid for for example.

Otherwise I dont have any problem with your model.
 

Pallidum

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Some DLC just seem like they were meant to be in the base game.
For example the Muslim portrait DLC for EU4 or the skin packs for CK2
I addressed this in the "Features stripped from the game to sell later" section. The truth is, I'd love to have had everything in the game from the beginning, but we didn't have those DLCs made when the game was released. And even if we'd had time to add everything we've made up to this point to the game, we'd want to create even more content for the game to sell later.

In the case of the Muslim Advisor Portraits for EU4, it was made half a year after the release of EU4. There wasn't even any code to see alternate portraits until just a few weeks before the DLC was released.

The portraits for CK2 are an ongoing process. Making the portraits for CK2 takes a long time, and we're still making new portraits as fast as we can two and a half years after the game came out. Adding them to the base game would have been nice, but it's been over three years of work for us to have gotten to this point.
 
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LumberKing

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I had a huge problem with auto cardinals being paid for for example.
Considering they overhauled the whole Cardinal mechanics, I wonder what they would have done had that feature been a paid one...
 

grisamentum

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This comparison does come up every now and then and while I don't like to compare us with other games, because every game is different, there's certain flaws in your argument.

EU4 retailed for $40 and the two most expensive EU4 expansions are $15 and $20 respectively. Civ 5 retailed for $60, since then dropped to $30, and the two expansions are $30 each. Both games have additional DLCs, the total of which are currently roughly the same. Again, I don't like this comparison, as you'd then need to quantify the value of the content of the different games - is the gameplay of a Civ expansion worth more than the gameplay of an EU expansion? Is one better than the other because there's more lines in the patchnotes?
No, "we" don't need to quantify the value. Hundreds of thousands, millions of Steam customers have done that for us. Look at it this way: Civ 5 came out almost 3 years before EU4, and EU4 is still popping out paid DLCs. Civ 5 is done. It's a complete game, with two substantial and well-focused expansions that significantly improved the game. Yet you are here arguing that EU4 is the same price if you only consider half the actual content DLCs for EU4. If I want to keep playing EU4 as it's improved, it's apparently going to cost $40-50 per year.

With EU4 you guys are just making it up as you go along. You have no idea how to really improve the game and mechanics are being completely invented and re-done years after release. How long will this go on? Until people get tired of it and stop buying the new DLCs. But hey, it's not Train Simulator... so... good job?

Then there's the argument that since we're making more content, it makes the game more expensive. That's also a flawed logic. The game isn't more expensive. It's the same price as it was at release, or even (as with Civ) lower. The difference is that there's now more game available for you to purchase, in the form of expansions.
It's not "logic" either way. You're making a purely semantic argument. The glass isn't half empty, it's that we sold you a double-sized glass! You could also say CK2 is free, but if you want to play as a feudal or tribal lord you have to pay.

As for making it unfair, I don't agree. After all, people who don't want the DLCs don't really lose out, do they? If you didn't have a feature before, why would you lose out by it now being available as an option? Someone who doesn't want the DLC still get free patches, usually with older versions of the game available through Steam's "beta" feature, for those who don't want to upgrade. The free patches add a lot of features to the base game. With the old model, those people wouldn't get any free patches. To get bugfixes and updates, they would have to buy the latest expansion, and potentially all expansions that preceded the latest one. That would be far more expensive for someone who only wanted one DLC, or perhaps none at all.
If you use an older patch you don't get the free features. You can either (1) get no free features (old patch) or (2) play a harder game (new patch, no paid features) or (3) cough up the cash.
 
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grisamentum

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I'm tired of CKII and EUIV getting broken every time you guys release a DLC for them.
I think this is a huge part of frustration with EU4, especially. So many patches radically change the game that you have to re-learn half the mechanics every few months. It just sucks.

It's all fine if you have a nice, balanced game and then add a major expansion with totally new things, like BNW for Civ 5. But when you just start radically changing base mechanics in a DLC, it's like, well why didn't you finish the game first?

Conquest of Paradise is a prime example. Huge mechanic: colonial nations in colonization. Should have been there from the start, and people are still asking for ways to REMOVE IT from the game because they got used to playing without them. It radically alters the way the game plays in terms of colonization.

Either you created the game and planned to sell it to us later, or you had no idea what the game was supposed to be like in the first place. And that was just a few months after the game first came out.
 
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DerOstkonig

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Grisamentum makes some great points.

His comparison with Civ V resonated with me the most, and is exactly what I meant when I said

I hope that in the future, you all will think about your products in perspective with the other great Strategy titles of the last 10 years, and re-evaluate your implementation of DLC and Patching.
 
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Jorlaan

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Something I think people seem to have forgotten about the way they did expansions before meant if you didn't buy they expansion you'd never get another patch.

When Victoria 2's first expansion came out, from then on all the patches were geared towards Vic 2 + AHD with nothing for people who had just Vic 2. This was the same for other games as well.

Now we have DLC's that come out in tandem with patches but are not required for said patch. So I can still technically play CK2 fully patched without ever buying a single DLC, but if I were playing Victoria 1-2, HoI 1-3, EU 1-3 or any other Paradox strategy games I'd be out of luck for patches unless I owned EVERYTHING.
 
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