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DLC at No Extra Cost: Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive is one of those publishers where if you’ve heard of them, you’ve really heard of them and the multitude of interesting or niché games they’ve worked on.

Crusader Kings II, Europa Universalis IV, Victoria II, Stellaris, and City Skylines are just a few of the major titles that have captured many a players eye looking to scratch that strategic itch of cultivation, calamity (player induced or otherwise), consumption, and good old fashioned conquest.

Avid Paradox fans, and those who watch the trends of publishers who embrace DLC, will also know that Paradox has earned the ire of many for what are considered ‘outrageous’ DLC practices. From Crusader Kings II onwards, Paradox has developed a trend of releasing a full price title [example: Stellaris at £34.99/$39.99 on Steam] and then continuing to develop additional DLC, ranging from music packs priced at £2.89/$3.99 [on Steam], to core gameplay overhauls and new mechanic introductions at £15.49/$19.99.

At first, to many players, this may seem reasonable. DLC is the bread and butter of how many publishers obtain the ability to work on longer projects that may reduce in profitability over time. However, Paradox finds criticism in the fact that this –

Crusader Kings II – Every DLC Combined on Steam

– is often intimidating, concerning, and a drive-away for players wanting to get involved in their games. How can a new player be encouraged to take up arms, muskets, or lasers against their enemy on a multi-level complex campaign when they’re staring at a price point that’ll be burning a significant hole in their wallet? Likewise, how can players trust that these ideas are being added on out of genuine passion and not being withheld from the core experience? In a Reddit AMA in 2016 Producer Johan Andersson had this to say when asked about DLC: “We had basically just Sword of Islam as an idea, then we kept designing as we went for the next two, but after that we’ve had an archive of the next 3-5 expansions for both games always written in more or less detail.”

Sword of Islam allows the player, who in the base game of Crusader Kings II could only play as a Christian ruler, to play as a Muslim nation while expanding and adding new mechanics to those Muslim nations which may seem fair to many. However, remembering that the map of Crusader Kings II looks like this –

Authors Note: The India region did not exist in 2016 as an area and was a free update, that also came with additional DLC to allow the player to play as to then play as the new region.

The player is essentially being confined to Europe, the Western part of Russia, and the Byzantine Empire for a map that includes Northern Africa, the Middle East, the Steppes, and Northern Europe. All of which would eventually become playable in further DLC’s.

This isn’t to say Paradox hasn’t made strides, even in 2016 they were aware of issues with the DLC policy they had in place:

There is usually a DLC collection that contains all DLC’s up to the one before the last I think. It’s a tricky thing though as our policy is that people should be able to pick exactly what they want to pay for. If we only offered bundles people who already own some may be at an disadvantage. We really don’t want to punish our loyal fans for the sake of newcomers by forcing them to buy extra stuff. We are constantly re-evaluating how we best can present the game though. We know that it is confusing and deterring for new players to see that list, for sure.

And now in the end of 2018, Europa Universalis IV – Golden Century has come out and the 1.28.1 update that will readjust what mechanics are in what DLC, to restructure those DLC mechanics that have become integral to the core gameplay as new expansions are built on top.

Likewise, an outcry in late 2017 about the amount people paying in relation to content being received from Paradox did prompt slight price restructuring post-Jade Dragon DLC in ‘Crusader Kings II’ which led to Stellaris and EU4 both revising their price point policy and what would be included in future packs.

Though Paradox Interactive is seeming to take the mounting criticism to heart.

Stellaris has recently received it’s latest DLC in the form of Megacorp, and with a future title Imperator Rome releasing in 2019, fans do want to know how much of their wallet will they need to put aside to continue to enjoy these games to their fullest. But in the debate of whether or not it’s suitable to keep producing large quantities of DLC, Johan had this to say in Paradox’s 2016 Reddit AMA: “As long as you keep buying them, we keep making them.”

So as ever, consumers will have to vote with their wallet on whether or not they agree.

Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article! If you’d like to see some related content, and support Exclusively Games in the process, click on our Amazon Affiliate links listed below to find related products. – EG Staff

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  1. makaramuss on May 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm said

    I am paradox fan and I must say I was saying “this is acceptable” because paradox games gave me like thousends of gameplay(wich is worth it lets be honest)
    but new rome game crossed line… I refunded game and now boycotting dlcs made to make game “playable”

  2. deimios666 on May 12, 2019 at 8:36 am said

    I have around 2 thousand hours of gametime across all paradox games and if constant DLC is the price for continued support and expansion of the game, I pay it gladly.

    Dropping $20 twice a year on a game that brought you thousands of hours of enjoyment sounds more than fair.

    Yes if you’re only now jumping into the games then the sheer amount of DLC to get you started becomes a barrier to entry, but as TFA states, paradox is working on it.

    There is also an interesting side effect of DLCs paywalling off some mechanics: the games start out simpler (note I wrote simple*r*, “paradox” and “simple” should not be mentioned on the same page, let alone paragraph)

    In the future I can see paradox giving away the base game for free and including some older DLCs with it for free.

  3. Hugh Barnett on May 12, 2019 at 11:26 am said

    I’m a recent acolyte of Paradox games on the PC, and yes the amount of dlc is staggering. However I’m just buying base games atm (except for CK2 and Stellaris) as they are more than enough for learning how the game works. DLC for EU4 and HOI can come later.

  4. Xaver Art on May 12, 2019 at 9:35 pm said

    As a EUIV fan I must admit that Paradox has been relentless with their DLC, now they changed their DLC policy into a big one expansion this year and I am hoping they can continue to do this, wouldn’t paying a bit more because I get hundreds of hours of gameplay something many games would dream of in my current situation.

  5. BrigandBoy on May 13, 2019 at 7:13 pm said

    I am happy that they are still working on old finished games. That has always made me go back to older titles that I’ve already played through. I wish that some other companies would make DLC for their older games (Hairbrained Schemes, for instance).

    But the flip side of this is Rome: Imperator and Stellaris. Stellaris started out as a great, complicated mess of a game. Then they updated the game and released new DLC which completely changed the game, and Imperator is a broken mess and a shell of game. Sure, it’s great that Paradox is working on their old titles, but whether it is good for the consumer ultimately is down to whether or not the devs execute things competently.

  6. Damian Cunliffe on May 13, 2019 at 7:57 pm said

    Paradox have my favourite DLC/expansion model of any gaming company. They keep on developing and expanding their games for years after they release. CK2 has had 7 years and 3 months of attention so far. Each expansion comes with a patch that adds new stuff to the game for free, so even if you never buy an expansion your game will still continually expand and be given attention. Most of the DLC’s aren’t essential, like unit models and music. I buy those just to support Paradox because they’re the top dogs of grand strategy games right now. Imperator: Rome has had a bad launch, to say the least, but I’m confident they will fix it.

  7. KnightmareX13 on May 13, 2019 at 9:09 pm said

    Wonder how long this will last? GOG had to end their fair price package.

  8. Here is the thing I think a lot of people are forgetting a lot of the updates get bundled in if you do or don’t buy the add on, when it comes to Paradox. Now some people say that should be in the core game, but the projects Paradox works on are massive. This is a very specific example.

    Paradox released massive transit for City Skylines, however most of that package was about improving how the roads worked, how they connected how you connect certain roads, and how your placing of transit lines improved. Sure there was the mono rail in the package and a few other new assets but 90% of the update was released for free, they wanted to improve peoples play experience. They didn’t have to do that, they used this dlc to improve the game as a whole and if you watch their dev interviews they will often talk about that, they will say we wanted to do X, Y and, Z when the game released but that was just to big for us.

    Play one full game of Stellaris and say you didn’t get your money’s worth. And I will be able to point to a fool and a liar. They make massive games, I can’t speak for every game but Surviving Mars, Stellaris, and City Skylines are all games which are niche now, nobody is them are making them at the level of polish they are making them. Maybe that is why they are getting the money.

    You don’t have to support them, if you don’t want to, but I am going to continue support them because they are good to me, and my niche desires.

  9. Type text here…paradox has the best dlc in my opinion

  10. Jinfengwei5 on May 15, 2019 at 7:51 pm said

    Paradox made great games but as a beginner of their game, all the DLC is kinda intimidating

  11. Greetings from Poland!

  12. BoomWolf on May 15, 2019 at 8:44 pm said

    As an dedicated Stellaris fan, I can justify the DLC costs.

    The game was good on release, and from then it was practically remade from scratch a few times over. the DLC’s themselves are not THAT much value, but many time they are accompanied by free updates that many games would make a paid DLC to begin with.

    Even after buying all DLCs, at launch day prices, I’m still WAY beyond my “money well spent” criteria of having more hours enjoying the game than dollars spent. (759 hours per the time of writing this post.)

  13. I’ve been following and playing Paradox games for a while now. I’ve jumped on their Stellaris series when it first came out. I had Crusader Kings (I & II) but to be honest, I didn’t play those much, not because I am not a fan but other (more shiny) things came to be. But when I saw some of those DLCs on sale, I grabbed them.

    I wanted to get the latest Stellaris one but I’m a little tight right now, so like the others — I will wait. There will be a sale, I just have to be patient.

    Now, I tend to purchase the DLCs from Paradox themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I like Steam and all but I found going to Paradox was just fine. I even mistakenly purchased a DLC at one point and realized I had the game on GoG, their support promptly refunded me the cost of the DLC and within the hour, I went and grabbed the DLC from GoG.

  14. Scalier Nebula on May 15, 2019 at 9:11 pm said

    As a fan of Paradox’s Grand Strategy games pouring around fifteen-hundred hours combined between various titles. I have spent my fair share on DLC. The entry point however is clear as day to be extremely high especially for older PDX titles. Not only do the games tend to have high learning curves, but the price point makes it very tough to recommend to friends on top of that.

    The other issue I found is when I have friends try out the game in multiplayer, as the Host with all DLCs. It is such a vastly different game they will play in multiplayer with myself than when they play vanilla on their own. At this point there is so much DLC for Crusader Kings II that it feels like you are somewhat playing an entirely different game going vanilla. And they have to research or inquire to me what are the core DLCs to buy if they choose to stick with it.

    I know not everyone would agree with me, but I would be perfectly fine if they slowly rolled-in DLC into the main game over time. But it would have to be a system of sorts like DLC that is 3+ years old gets rolled into the main game. I would not accept something random like only these core DLC gets rolled-in while others that could make sense to incorporate don’t as that will leave the community questioning what should have been included. Other than that I could accept a definitive edition that incorporates all current DLC, but gives it freely to all that currently own the Base game wiping the slate clean. Similar to Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2. And just something on top of that to reward existing fans.

  15. I can forgive them since the base game are like $10 during sales

  16. damnskippy on May 16, 2019 at 12:38 am said

    Not a fan of Paradox DLC. I generally like their games, but the way they bundle and price DLC is a definite turn off.

  17. Raufbold on May 16, 2019 at 1:22 am said

    Paradox are probably one of the few that I wouldn’t mind paying for. First, you can play without the DLCs if you want – any collection is playable. Second, for online play only one needs to have the DLCs – everyone else will automatically play with them. Finally, these games are pure awesomeness. Though I wouldn’t mind a slight reduction in price 🙂

  18. I usually pass on buying Paradox games I’d have otherwise bought (on sale usually), because of the DLC swamp. Instead I stick to Stellaris only as I’m enjoying the hell out of that game and don’t mind buying a DLC for it every now and then (if it adds something I want in my playthrough), but will never buy the 2 cosmetic DLC (planetoids and humanoids). 8 euros for a bunch of portraits and some ship models is insane. Anyway, I don’t have a problem with their DLC policy as long as the base game is decent on it’s own and DLCs add enough fresh content.

  19. crabmeat on May 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm said

    The only way to get PDX games and their DLCs are from Steam sales, otherwise they’re just freaking expensive.

    Of course for EU4 the base game is still playable, however when a new patch is rolled out the base game will be updated for free but some additional perks / functions are locked behind DLCs. This will certainly impact the campaign in some way if one does not have the required DLC, for casual players not so much of a hindrance, but for Achievement Hunters it might be crucial (ie. opening strats for a certain nation)

    For the last two years they’ve been rolling out DLCs months after months, they’ve jumped from patch 1.23 to 1.28 in just a year. Big uproar from the community after 1.28, since then they changed their DLC policy. Now it’s one big mega European patch for 2019. I think we should be grateful that they really listen to us though (unlike money-hungry monsters that is EA, Activision & Co, I mean, lootboxes atop DLCs? Come on.)

    Best of all their games have a high replay value, so you don’t get bored starting a new campaign every time because you don’t know what happens next. On one campaign you’ll get to see AI-formed HRE and on the other you’d face off an exploded Ming.

  20. I didn’t know about Paradox until I found out that Vampire Bloodlines 2 is published by them.

  21. jschmelter on May 22, 2019 at 4:01 am said

    Certain companies are 100 percent out of control in regards to how they handle DLC… CAPCOM lol

  22. Paradox is one of my favourite publishers, but the dlc should definitely be bought during sales only.

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