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Discussion > Video GamesJun 26, 2024 8:00 am CT

What’s the best way for games to handle expansions?

Last week Elden Ring released its first expansion Shadow of the Erdtree to glowing reviews — although there are apparently some framerate issues on PC that hopefully will be addressed quickly. Most impressively for a modern game it’s just an expansion: no season pass with content released at intervals, no extra in-game cosmetics in a “deluxe” version (although for $10 more you do get a Digital Artbook and Soundtrack for use outside the game) just a simple expansion that requires a base game like in the elden days.

Contrast that all the criticism Atlus is receiving for its “Expansion Pass” for Persona 3 Reload. No actual new content for the six months after it went on sale, just two small bundles of optional in-game cosmetics. When September comes around players will finally get to play Episode Aigis/The Answer but until then the reviews on Steam are ludicrously negative — of course it must be noted that to review a game there you have to buy it, so I’m sure Atlus is crying into their bundles of money. But for a company that already gets complaints for its tendency to release “day one DLC” it’s not a good look. It’s funny: they could’ve just released everything at once in September for the same price (or more!) and players would likely have been content. Instead by collecting early and delivering late they’re hurting their reputation in a completely avoidable way.

That said, I don’t want to completely condemn content-based (as opposed to purely cosmetic) Season/Expansion Passes. Sure, some companies use them in a negative way, but I felt Civilization 6‘s New Frontier Pass was a perfect use of the concept. By dividing up a normal expansion’s worth of content into semi-monthly updates — alternating with free updates for all players — Civ 6 came up with an intelligent way of keeping players engaged while still delivering desired content. Sure they collected the money upfront instead of waiting for the expansion to be finished like Atlus is doing, but at least real content was being provided in the interim, and it was definitely better than their initial DLC plan of pay-per-Civ which was hastily abandoned due to criticsm.

What do you prefer? Do you like simple expansions that arrive with the full promised content, or do you like regular updates over the course of a pass? What other games do you feel did a good job with their expansion pass implementations, and which ones do you feel failed?

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