What is DLC? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

DLC is a hot topic amongst gamers - but just what is it? Let's back up and start with the basics. DLC stands for "download content," and as you can guess from that, it's extra material you can download for a game. Typically it doesn't come on the disk for the original game (with the exception being Game of the Year edition, which we will look at later in this article) but instead, comes in the form of a download code or is purchased directly from the online store on your console. Sometimes it is released as a pre-order or special edition bonus when you first purchase a game, but even more often it comes out later after players have had some time to enjoy the game and are looking for more content.

DLC exists for nearly every modern gaming platform. Whether you play PlayStation, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox, or even PC you can get DLC for many games. Sometimes a DLC code might be something as small as a new colour scheme for an in-game vehicle, but other times it is as large as a whole new chapter of the story! Prices of DLC can range anywhere from less than $1 USD to over $20 USD depending on the actual content. DLC can add fun new elements, make games a bit easier, or give new gameplay to games you aren't ready to put down just yet.

The world of DLC is an expansive one with a lot of different elements and variations, so whether you're new to the idea or a veteran with plenty of downloads under your belt we hope you can learn something from What is DLC?!

Expansion Packs and Add-Ons

DLC can be something big, or something small. Sometimes it can add new maps to games to give you more places to explore or an additional location for multi-player mode. It can give you extra chapters and stories. Or maybe it just gives you extra characters to use in your party, a new voice-over for the menu, powerful weapons, alternative outfits, or new vehicles. Whether it's a whole new story for your game or just a cool new gun, DLC can come in a lot of different sizes.

Train Simulator 2014

  • System/Platform: Microsoft Windows
  • Publisher: RailSimulator.com
  • Developer: RailSimulator.com
  • Release Date: Dec. 31st, 2014

Train Simulator is the 2014 edition of a long-running series of train simulation games, which have exactly the plot you can guess from the title – they simulate the real-life experience of driving a train. It features maps and trains from all over the world, giving the player the chance to drive a large number of different kinds of locomotives and complete different tasks and challenges along real-world rail lines. It has both Quick Drive mode, which you can play for a more casual experience or a Career mode for more motivated and serious train simulator gamers. The 2014 edition also featured more player-created tracks that you can try in addition to the real world ones that were already in the game.

The reason we are using Train Simulator 2014 in our article about DLC is that, as it stands right now, this game has some of the most DLC available out of any game in the world. Of course, players pick and choose what they want to buy to add to their game experience from a variety of extra locomotives and routes available for purchase. If you wanted to buy all of them, you had best have close to $3000 USD! That’s a whole lot of extra trains and tracks to pick from. Of course, very few other games have quite that much DLC to pick from, but it is a good example of just how many add-ons and expansions it is possible for a game to have. Plus these add-ons really give players the chance to customise a game the way they want to, and Train Simulator can definitely be made into your own unique game depending on what you buy for it!


Game of the Year Edition

While many people scramble to get a game as soon as it releases, especially from a series that they already are a fan of, sometimes there is a benefit to waiting. Games that sell well and that have a lot of DLC will often release a Game of the Year edition a year or two after the game's initial release. This special edition will include all of the DLC that was released for the game right on the disk - usually without any need to download from an internet connection. Even if you do need to connect to the net, the GOTY Edition has no extra cost, so all your downloads will be free. If you didn't get the game when it dropped, it's probably worth your money to get the GOTY edition later (or even just wait for it).

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • System/Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: CD Projekt RED
  • Developer: CD Projekt RED
  • Release Date: May 19th, 2015

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the third installment in the Witcher series, continuing the story of Geralt of Rivia. In a fantasy land where magic is generally frowned upon, Witchers have almost passed into memory. Through a dark ritual, they are given special powers, including the ability to use magical signs and an increased ability to heal their bodies. Geralt is one of these Witchers, a monster hunter for hire, though the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is focused more on his personal story. He is on the trail to find his lover Yennefer, as well as the girl Ciri who he helped raise. Both of them are being pursued by the Wild Hunt, a group of magic beings able to freeze and destroy everything in their path. Will Geralt find them before the Wild Hunt does?

The Witcher 3 is already advertised as having the potential to be a 300-hour game depending on how many side quests you do and how much you explore and craft. That's already a massive game! So in addition to the original game, two more expansions also exist for the game, each boasting an average additional 30 hours of gameplay! That means a whole lot of play time for Witcher fans. Since the game did so well at its release, a Game of the Year edition had since come out as well. It includes both of these expansions, as well as many smaller add-ons! And conveniently they are all on the disk so no internet connection required to enjoy them all. It makes the Witcher 3 a great chance to experience how convenient and easy getting Game of the Year edition can be, and showcases a lot of different DLC!

Official Launch Trailer - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Season Pass

As mentioned above, when you're a big fan of something it's unlikely you can wait for the Game of the Year edition - you want it on release day! Chances are you've been waiting a long time for the game already. So after you already spend a lot of money on the initial game, how can you save on spending almost the same cost again just on DLC? A lot of games recently have been also releasing something called a Season Pass. For a set price, you are guaranteed all DLC as it is released. This includes small add-ons, as well as expansions. If you plan to get everything anyway, this is a cost-effective solution - and if your console is always connected to the internet, sometimes it will conveniently download on its own as extra material is released.

Final Fantasy XV

  • System/Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix Business Division 2
  • Release Date: Nov. 29th, 2016

One of the most anticipated games of our time, Final Fantasy XV finally released after nearly a decade of waiting! It tells a whole new story about Noctis, a young prince, and his friends on their way to his wedding to the Oracle Lunafreya. But while Noctis is travelling outside of the capital city, it's attacked under the pretense of a false treaty, and his father the King is killed. Meanwhile, Lunafreya gets swept up in the political unrest as well. That leaves Noctis and his friends on a very different trip than they originally planned. Instead of just going to a wedding, they have to find Luna, get revenge for the king's death, and defeat the enemy once and for all! Is Noctis ready to take his place as the new king, though?

When Final Fantasy XV released, some special editions of the game and pre-order bonuses included things like powerful weapons and extra outfits for the characters. In addition to these DLCs available at launch, new chapters of the game featuring Noctis' friends as well as a special carnival full of cool items and mini-games were promised for future release as well. Thus, Final Fantasy XV offered a Season Pass right from the start! Fans that knew they would want to have all the DLC even though it hadn't released yet were able to buy the pass at a set price that would save them money in the long run, and guarantee them all available DLC. From items to expansions, the season pass covers it all. Definitely, a must have for true fans!

Final Fantasy XV - TGS 2016 Trailer


“True” Endings?

Not everything about DLC is positive. With the rise in the popularity of DLC and the sheer size of games in recent times, it has led to a new, taxing development. Some games are taking advantage of DLC to release alternative, or even "true" endings for games after players finish them initially that you can't see or play without paying extra money. Other games are releasing actually incomplete from the start, with DLC being the only way to experience the whole game! Sometimes fans are more accepting of this, such as when Mass Effect 3 released a new ending when so many people are unaccepting of the game's original one (it being free to download probably helped with that), but others are less happy.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

  • System/Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Release Date: Nov. 18th, 2014

Dragon Age: Inquisition is another third title in a famous fantasy game series. You play as an all new original character which you can create from highly customisable features. The game begins with a treaty finally being signed between the Templars and the Mages - and then disaster strikes as a rift in the sky kills everyone present at the signing. Everyone that is, except you. Of course, this puts you as the prime suspect behind the occurrence, but many believe you actually have the blessing of the gods and are a herald of Andraste. In order to close the rift and discover the true dark powers behind its origin, an Inquisition is called - and you take the role of the Inquisitor.

Dragon Age has always had DLC available, from small add-ons to massive expansions. Inquisition is no different, offering a range of DLC as well. While the game does have a conclusive ending, though, after it had been out for a while a new DLC called Trespasser was announced. And the company said that Trespasser was the "true" ending for the game, and without it, your game remains incomplete. While this already frustrated some players, what made it even more annoying was that it was only released for the new generation consoles despite the original game also being available on some of the older systems. Dragon Age: Inquisition is not alone in releasing the "true" ending for the game only in DLC, and the way it was released is a particularly frustrating example of the potential downside of DLC.

Dragon Age: Inquisition | Official Trailer | Lead Them or Falls


Final Thoughts

From buying an alternative outfit to opting for the entire season pass, DLC offers something for every player and every budget. While it does have its downsides as well, DLC offers players a way to make their game more customised, and to extend their playtime on a favourite title (for a bit more money, of course). So if you aren't quite ready to finish that game, or have already conquered every existing multiplayer map, or maybe just haven't been able to beat that challenging boss with your current equipment, have a look to see what kind of DLC is available with your title!

Have you ever purchased DLC before? What is some of the best DLC you have played? Do you ever purchase Game of the Year editions or season passes? Whatever you want to say about DLC we want to hear it in the comments below!

Jet Nebula

Writer

Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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