What does "DLC" mean in gaming? Explained


What does DLC stand for in games?

‘DLC’ stands for ‘downloadable content’, and refers to an official add-on for a video game that’s provided by the developers after launch. This is typically through an expansion pack, new questline, or set of new multiplayer maps.

When were DLCs first introduced?

DLCs can be traced back to the 1990s when games were still stored on and played through disks. If a developer had a set of new areas, items, quests, and storylines that they wanted to share with their players, they would need to distribute this through a separate disk of downloadable content to be installed on the player’s machine.

Nowadays, with most people having access to reliable internet, it’s much more common for developers to release their DLCs digitally, where a player can download the additional game files directly onto their machine. But in the beginning it was only possible to do this through the separate release of a new disk.

What types of DLCs are there?

DLCs can come in varying shapes and sizes. Some are free expansions that could be as simple as a few new skins. Others are paid, major expansions that offer tens of hours of additional gameplay.

Modern multiplayer games have begun to adopt a live-service structure, which means that they continue to be updated with additional content on a semi-regular basis. These games usually have a seasonal structure, opening up the ability for developers to offer season passes with skins and other in-game items for players to work through.

Why are some DLCs bad?

Over the years, there’s been growing resentment in the gaming community against how quickly developers seem to release DLCs after their base game has come out. Some people feel like developers will intentionally omit certain parts of the game from its release to offer as DLC further down the line. Competitive online games may also offer the ability to purchase weapons and other content to provide an advantage.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's 'horse armor' is frequently referred to as original 'bad' DLC, allowing players to armor up their horse for $2.50. This may appear cheap in comparison to today's offerings, but it surprised many back then.

Oblivion's infamous horse armor.

Why are some DLCs good?

Since DLCs add new content, they can enhance an already excellent title, keeping players coming back for more even after they have completed the original game. The Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion is an example of this, as it added an entirely new region to explore, as well as a fantastic plot and new DLC items to bring back into the base game.