I can’t talk for the other 40 odd million users of Steam, but when I open it up and browse the store, apart from the sales, the ‘new releases’ section is where my eyes gaze next. The more aware users will respond in either of two distinct ways when the word ‘Railworks’ is mentioned. Either they will claw a hole with their bare hands into whatever surface is nearest and cry or they will have a beaming smile on their face and will scream “£1000 DLC”. Yes you heard me correctly. Railworks has almost £1000 worth of Downloadable Content. Me and a few friends have followed the increasing cost of the DLC for a few months now. At least once a week a track or train add-on expansion will appear and we’ll all open up the total DLC page and stare in amazement eagerly viewing the running total.
I have never owned a Train Simulator of any kind so it would be unfair of me to judge the content that is being created by the developers. I have however been an avid Flight Simmer so can appreciate the ideas of an open world base game that third-party developers can push the boundaries into creating unique and interesting content. There are several developers who deal solely in creating add-ons for the now four –years-old Microsoft FSX so there must be a significant market for it. The developers of Railworks could argue that Flight Sims have even more content so it is unfair to judge the game as a content spewing machine. The difference here is that the Railworks DLC’s are all first-party official add-ons, meaning they are made by the company that created the base game not by external developers.
Expansion packs used to be mainstream with Total Wars, Sims and Civilizations all receiving large enough amounts of content to warrant an official release of an expansion pack. DLC on Steam has changed the way we think about this. Instead of £10 being spent on an expansion pack, 8 micropayments of £1.25 each are being made allowing users much more flexibility into what they choose. Don’t what the new maps but are eagerly awaiting the new units? Simple, just cherry-pick the content that interests you.
This is also different from Railworks. Almost all the DLC they sell is at least £12 each even up to £25. Some players may say that it offers enough new content that the price is justifiable and maybe it is but the sheer amount of DLC being sent into the new releases column is mind-blowing. Maybe the amount of purchases against the hours of development conclude that £12 means a small profit as most developers will lower the price if the community is large enough (excluding Activision).
So I’m sure the DLC is absolutely fantastic to Train Simmers. Imagine if Valve were to release content on such a schedule! I’m sure there are several thousand other people who will rejoice and celebrate the day that Railworks DLC hits £1000 – It will indeed be a moment to tell the grandchildren. So let’s raise a toast together to the incredible output of the Rail Simulator Development and to Steam for allowing such wonderful content to adorn their virtual shelves.