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Paradox's Fredrik Wester defends company's DLC policy

Former CEO says business model isn't flawless but funds ongoing development and allows for experimentation

Fredrik Wester has spoken out to defend Paradox Interactive's approach to premium DLC for its strategy titles, insisting it's a "fair and balanced way to release content."

The publisher has been criticised by some players for the sheer amount of additional content release for its games. Crusader Kings 2, for example, has seen over $300 worth of DLC released since it launched in 2012.

Some Paradox fans see this as too high a cost of entry, particularly in an era when so many games offer free post-release content to keep players engaged.

In a Twitter thread, Wester -- former CEO and now executive chairman of the Paradox board -- said the DLC model is "based on the idea that you pay for new content after the full game release" and "helps to finance the further development of the game, which is of gain for all players."

He adds that Paradox does indeed do free updates and upgrades every time it releases new DLC so those who choose not to buy get additional content to play with. This "would not be possible to fund" without other players buying said DLC.

Wester also notes that multiplayer matches are run in a way that connects players without DLC to those who do have it, so they can access all content in multiplayer without having to pay for it. This, he says, "has been a way for us to avoid splitting up the player base."

"I know this is not a flawless model and that a lot of new players get intimidated by seeing a game with hundreds of [dollars] in DLC," he wrote. "However, we also run deep discounts on all our games and DLCs regularly.

"Like with all business; if you don't think it's worth it, don't buy it."

He wrapped up by adding that the DLC model "allows us to experiment more" and make more interesting content over time, and that he personally favours cosmetic DLC since they have no gameplay effect but still help to fund development.

"Is this a perfect model for releasing content? No," he concluded. "Are we constantly working to make it better? Yes. Are we listening to feedback from players? Yes.

"Are we listening to people who 'BLURG BLARGH GREEDY BASTARDS DLC BAD OOGA BOOGA'? No."

GamesIndustry.biz addressed this issue with Paradox's new CEO Ebba Ljungerud last year, where she echoed many of Wester's points. She also pointed to the amount of hours and value available in a title like Crusader Kings 2, thanks in no small part due to the extra content.

"We have to deal with the issue of people being conditioned by how other games in the industry work. And the conditioning is, if you don't get all of the content then you're missing out on something, which is not true in our games," she said.

"We need to get better at bundling and presenting stuff on our product pages, so that when you come in you're not inundated with a torrent of DLC and you feel like you're getting gouged."

Last week, Wester appeared on a GameLab panel hosted by GamesIndustry.biz, where he said the 70/30 revenue split operated by digital stores such as Steam is "outrageous."

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Latest comments (1)

Joshua Hughes Programming 5 months ago
Personally I think paradoxes strategy is spot on.

I've bought every dlc for ck2 euiv and stellaris, several for hoi, all for surviving Mars and cities skylines. Over time. And the content released in these expansions (not the cosmetic or sounds which I don't buy) has typically been fantastic.

I've spent over 600 hours in ckii, 500 on euiv, 600 on stellaris etc. So that's plenty to justify the prices. I didn't buy all dlc immediately either, so when I was "left behind" with the free content that suited me for many many hours alone for the most part.

Ckii is a great example too. Look at EA, Bethesda or any other major publisher and after a year they'd be looking at the sequel to the sequel a year after launch. Ckii was released in 2012 and has been developed ever since, that means bug fixes, content patches, balances, feature improvements etc. So you don't have to waste your money to play the newest version.

Plus, if you dont care for a particular expansion (ie for me I didn't really care for the rajas of India expansion) so don't buy it, have fun with the free content, and if there's a good sale on or you change your mind pick up the expansion later. You can still enjoy free quality continuous updates, or play wjtb your mates. If it was a sequel, you wouldn't be able to do any of that.


All I can say to summarise is paradox has hit the nail on the head with its strategy. Huge respect to all of them, both publisher and Dev side.
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