What is DLC [downloadable content]?

It is not difficult to browse a game catalog without finding a DLC. Known as “extra content”, the feature is controversial: on the one hand it can be good for loyal players who crave a return from a franchise; on the other, it can generate revolt when used as a cash machine. Learn more about what a DLC is and how to find it on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or PC.

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What is DLC

DLC is the acronym for “downloadable content”. In the game universe, the DLC refers to extra content from a game that has already been released, this content may be an expansion of new areas and missions or just items and characters.

A DLC is not valid without the full game, which can be found on physical media. Therefore, you must have purchased the normal version of a game to later purchase and download some extra content for it – DLC is only digital.

Think of a downloadable content as an expansion pack, in which you need to have the game and then buy the extra content. Remember The Sims 2 and The Sims 2: University Life? “Univerity Life” was like a DLC for The Sims 2 – Remembering that expansion packs can be found in physical version, to install on the computer from the media included in the box.

One of the first games that made DLCs available was Total Annihilation, from 1997, for PC. Every month, the production company CaveDog Entertainment made new units, maps and scenarios available to players free of charge – unlike today, what is rare to find is free DLC for the new wave of games.

Why is a DLC controversial?

On the positive side: a DLC can extend the life of a game. Bringing back the entire player base of a franchise to discover new content. DLCs ​​do not have a time limit to be published, keeping the production of extra content in development – as long as there is interest – is healthy for keeping players active.

Take the example of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game marked the debut of the Nintendo Switch in March 2017 and already contains several hours of gameplay from exploration in an open world.

It can be said that many players finished the game in the first week. But in the same year – in June and December 2017 – Nintendo released two DLCs with new content, which brought many back to the fields of Hyrule.

Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the best game of the year in 2017. Having more history to explore is rewarding.

On the other hand…

It is also notable that many studios already release games with the intention of publishing DLCs in the future. But, not as a way of thanking the player base or preserving the memory of what the game was, but with a view to profit.

I am not wrong about producing DLCs, not least because the game market is one of the most profitable. In 2019 alone, revenue from games (including mobile ) exceeded $148 billion.

The problem begins when a studio undermines the experience of a player who has already purchased the full game, leaving that impression that the game is unfinished. That leaves the promise of one or more “plug-in” DLCs and, most of the time, paid.

Remembering that it is not just about expansions in relation to the stories within the games, a DLC can include new characters, skins (clothing), items and maps. There are endless possibilities to expand a game, it is up to the studio to want to make it a business.

How to buy a DLC

Buying a DLC – on Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch or PC – is pretty easy. Even those who bought the physical media version of the title can access the DLC through the console or PC game store.

In the store, search for the name of the game to access its page. All DLCs will be listed on this page. Add the DLC to the cart and continue with the purchase process, just like buying a game.

By computer, if you have one: