What is DLC: understand the concept and get to know the best DLCs in video games

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Who hasn't heard of DLC? These three letters form a very popular acronym in the gaming world. But do you know what it means? In short, DLCs mean downloadable content, which in our language would be "downloadable content". That is: are expansions, extras and additions to a base game.

DLCs ​​have become one of the most common console features of the last two generations. Despite this, they have been around for a long time. A good example of this is The Sims, which regularly releases new content to add to the base game. On PC, however, downloadable content are called expansions.



DLC history

Total Annihilation was the first game to offer DLC

The concept of DLC is believed to have emerged with Total Annihilation in 1997. It was a shooter, where the objective was to eliminate as many enemies as possible. In this PC game, new content was added monthly. In the console category, the pioneer was the Dreamcast, but without much quality.

The term only came to be widely used with the arrival of the Xbox. Microsoft was the first big company in the field to make extras available for its games. Halo 2 and Splinter Cell are some examples, having, at the time, additional content largely free on Xbox Live.

On Xbox 360 there was an evolution in terms of DLC policies. They came to be seen as a business opportunity by Microsoft. This resulted in the creation of a space dedicated entirely to additional content on Xbox Live. Soon virtually all Xbox game extras are no longer free.

The great boom in DLCs occurred with the entry of Sony and Nintendo into this market. From that moment on, the big games, the so-called AAA games, rarely stopped featuring paid extras. Still, many downloadable contents today are free when they don't represent major changes to the base game.



Why do companies create DLCs?

Firstly for economic reasons. Creating a game, even if it's not AAA, is not cheap. This involves several teams of professionals, who need to be paid for their work.

That's why the financial aspect is one of the main reasons for creating DLCs. Imagine The Witcher 3, which has sold over 20 million copies. If each of the two expansions sells the same, the earnings for CD Projekt Red triple. In this sense, it is very worthwhile for companies to offer paid DLCs.

Another reason is to keep players interested in the games. Mainly in narrative games, like Horizon: Zero Dawn and all of the Far Cry franchise. There are new missions and areas of the map to explore, which ensure players keep playing for a long time.

There are cases where the additional content might just be new clothes, skins or other cosmetics. Usually this type of DLC is free, but there are companies that charge for it. A classic example is sports games, such as FIFA and NBA, that charge players for in-game currency.

DLCs ​​are the future of gaming

Undead Nightmare is one of the most fun DLCs

There is a very famous joke in the gaming community involving EA, the company responsible for FIFA, which jokes about the fact that all their games are full of DLCs. Many gamers, by the way, hate the idea of ​​having to pay for access to "full games".

Despite this, we can say that DLCs really are the future of video games. This is a lucrative market for producers and developers. A business model that works on the passion of users.


Gamers themselves are always looking forward to knowing if a particular game will have some kind of extra content. Many get frustrated when there is no DLC, like the last God of War.


With the consolidation of narrative and interactive games, the DLCs seem to reaffirm their space more and more. Which makes sense: you finish the main story but add other campaigns, characters and missions. As if they were new chapters of the same book.


Criticism, however, is heavy

As mentioned above, criticisms regarding the current DLC business model exist and are not few. Several players accuse companies of thinking only about the money.

This whole idea of ​​acquiring games "in parts", little by little, bothers, especially for those who don't have so many financial conditions. There are also those who say that developers leave the best of games for DLCs.

Criticism is particularly heavy towards fighting games such as Mortal Kombat and sports games. Many complain that fighters, once secret, are now products. In the case of sports games, gamers ask for just the opposite: instead of one new game a year, one DLC or update was enough.

Best video game DLCs

The best DLCs in the gaming world are the ones that really add something new to your games. And in this case we could name many! See some of the top ones below:

  • Left Behind (The Last of Us)


  • Dragonborn, Dawnguard e Heathfire (Skyrim)

  • Blood and Wine e Hearts of Stone (The Witcher 3)

  • Lair of the Shadow (Mass Effect 2)

  • Freedom Cry (Assassin's Creed IV)

  • Awakening (Dragon Age: Origins)

  • Legacy of the void (StarCraft 2)

  • Undead Nightmare (Red Dead Redemption)

  • The Last Crowns (Dark Souls II)

  • Point lookout (Fallout 3)

  • The old hunters (Bloodborne)

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