Dying Light: A Glowing Model for DLC

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With the exception of multiplayer shooters, it’s unusual for video games that are more than a few years old to keep getting DLC.

Polish studio Techland bucked that convention this summer by announcing that Dying Light is getting a new round of DLC throughout 2017 and 2018. To make matters even more unusual, all of this content will be free for current owners of the title.

Techland has stayed mum on what all of its content drops will be, but has kicked things off by adding new enemies to the world of Dying Light. The studio also stated that the content is its way of saying “thanks for playing”.

Techland’s announcement is unorthodox for several reasons. It’s very uncommon for open-world games like Dying Light to keep getting DLC almost three years after release. Then again, Dying Light still has a thriving community, which in of itself is unusual.

Part of the community’s longevity can be attributed to Dying Light being an incredibly fun game to play, but it may also be due to Techland having provided continued DLC support these last few years. These DLC drops aren’t the first additional content to hit Dying Light; The Following expansion pack dropped early last year, and the game has also added new skins and weapons.

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While it’s hardly unusual for a large studio to supply its titles with lots of DLC, it is very unusual for a studio to do that as long as Techland has. The studio has stated that, rather than develop new sequels, it’s committed to simply improving the Dying Light experience as long as the community sticks around.

Players have reciprocated that dedication by indeed sticking around, creating a healthy symbiosis that other large studios should emulate with their own games. It’s a strategy that smaller-scale devs have been doing for years; Psyonix, the studio Rocket League, has stated that it’s content to keep updating its current title instead of focusing on a sequel.

This design philosophy is mutually beneficial for several reasons: it allows gamers to enjoy new experiences in their favorite titles without having to shell out sixty bucks for a sequel, and it allows studios to build goodwill and community engagement by augmenting an already-fantastic gaming experience. Dying Light will probably get a sequel sometime soon, but Techland’s commitment to rewarding players for sticking around on the current installment is admirable.

By devoting its time to free DLC and updates, Techland is playing the long game. The studio seems more interested in building concrete inroads with its community and getting the very most out of its product before putting a bunch of time and effort into a new game. And honestly, if a ton of people are still playing Dying Light, why should Techland upend that engagement by abandoning the game in pursuit of a sequel?

This philosophy is a boon for both designers and players, and it makes Dying Light a shining example of DLC done right. Techland is using it as a tool of engagement, not just a means to make money. In the end, the former may very well prove more profitable.