Paradox are testing out an optional DLC subscription model for EU4

By Joe Robinson 23 Jan 2020 0

Paradox continue to experiment and test out what they can do with their mammoth grand-strategy games, with EU4 being the latest game to get some experimental attention in the form of an optional subscription model for the DLC.

This is an attempt to “reduce the threshold” for newer players to gain access to the wealth of DLC the historical grand-strategy game has. It can easily cost nearly $300 for the essential gameplay content, well over that amount for all of the cosmetic stuff as well. Even with Steam Sales and ridiculous Humble Bundles, it’s a difficult prospect to consider in one go.

Originally, the dev and marketing teams wanted to ‘stealth’ test an early form of the subscription by not telling anyone about it since it was only going to be targeting a small selection of the player-base. However, because the game needed to be physically updated resulting in a version number change and a new checksum, they decided to go live with this post.

It didn’t take long for players to go digging around the files, and the truth was out - a new subscription option! The files only showed the text-based localisation information, but eventually the full screenshot was revealed as well:

EU4 suscription

This all resulted in a follow-up post which attempted to do some damage control and clarify what the situation was.

It’s worth noting that part of the image references that new subscribers will get a new unique unit skin for the game for starting a subscription. This has since been debunked - it was originally proposed but the idea was scrapped, however it seems they didn’t get around to changing the advertisement.

As you can imagine, the entire thread is a mixture of hysteria, genuine concern, loyal support and then Community Manager ‘BjornB’ stalwartly answering questions as far as he’s able to. I’m not going to try and pick apart the communication strategy here, but I do think developers continually underestimate the player-base's ability to just go digging around game files. If you want to ‘stealth test’ something, you really need to think harder about it.

The subscription model itself though is yet another attempt to answer a growing legacy of questions that started cropping up post-CK2. Paradox Interactive grand-strategy games are simultaneously the best, and the most problematic, strategy experiences available right now. The amount of gameplay hours you can get from these games is ridiculous, and it’s a testament that it took nearly a decade for games like CK2 to warrant a sequel - with all the intervening years filled with DLC and post-release support.

ck2 dlc

But that same post-release content library is also its biggest weakness. These games have essentially re-written the rules on post-release support and DLC, but as all good pioneers do they’ve kind of made it up as they’ve gone along. It’s starting to cause problems.

Imperator: Rome suffered the full weight of this legacy, and I daresay CK3 and other future games will get stung by it as well until the issues are resolved one way or another.

I don’t think a subscription model is a bad direction to experiment with but it of course depends on the details. I don’t even mind unit skins being offered up as a unique bonus to subscribers. I’ve never cared about them anyway and despite loud protestations on the forums, I doubt the majority of the community does either.

It will be interesting to see how this test goes, and whether it’s still viable now that so much attention is on it.

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