Total War: Warhammer Devs Try To Explain Their Weird DLC Model

Total War: Warhammer Devs Try To Explain Their Weird DLC Model

The news that the Chaos Warriors would be gated off from next year’s Total War: Warhammer didn’t sit well with many readers, and as it turns out Total War fans and Warhammer nuts were also less than pleased.

“In the studio it’s sparked off a huge “wtf do we do about it” debate,” Mike Simpson, creative director on Total War: Warhammer, wrote in a new blog post. It’s part of Creative Assembly’s attempt to repair the negative image that quickly surrounded the pre-order model — although the developers are quick to stress that they understand not everyone will see their point of view.

The blog post is actually a double, with a lengthy missive from Simpson and a follow-up from the game’s brand director, Rob Bartholomew. You do have to give them some credit for taking the time to put together something substantive that explains their logic and thinking, although developers should realise — and the TW:W team undoubtedly know this now — that this is the kind of thing you publish before the pre-order announcement lands, not afterwards.

“I think the nature of our games means our players are intelligent and rational thinkers, and if we share with them the problems that we face, maybe they can help guide us to the solution that brings maximum happiness to the most players,” Simpson wrote. “That solution may be exactly what we are planning, but if it’s something better we wouldn’t hesitate to execute it.”

What Simpson goes on to imply, however, is that they knew Warhammer would cost significantly more to develop from the outset. “When we were first planning the project, it was immediately obvious that this was a bit of a problem. All that lot was going to cost four times as much to build as the contents of the treasury.”

“To get that investment from SEGA (who are always supportive in backing us), we demonstrate that we can release a great game that results in a lot of happy players. But in order to do that with Warhammer content, it has to be split up into reasonable pieces in order to do all of it at a reasonable resource cost.”

Hence the decision to gate Chaos Warriors — which Simpson says the team wanted to include in the main game “to give a big, bad end of game ‘boss’ enemy Race for all players”. “The only way we can have all the races, all the units, all the magic, all authentic and super high quality is by building it up in multiple products.”

Bartholomew added in his post that the team had a “dedicated production budget to generate DLC in support of the main games”. “We assign some of that cost to helping create a really great pre-order bonus,” he explained.

“And what’s more we can make it available to buy from day one if you don’t want to pre-order. So the advantage is there if you do put your money down early, but you don’t miss out entirely if you decide not to … finally, you can take advantage of Steam Refunds, or any refund programme offered by your favourite retailer (and please check with them what it is before pre-ordering).”

Total War: Warhammer Devs Try To Explain Their Weird DLC Model

It was cleared up in the posts that the Chaos Warriors would still be visible in-game whether you pre-ordered/purchased the DLC or not. You’ll also be able to play against Chaos as an AI opponent.

“We thought we’d done well. Maybe there is a better solution – we’re listening to all suggestions for the future. Maybe pre-orders are becoming so toxic they will stop working altogether. You’d hope not though, as it quite simply means those incentives will end up just being paid DLC after launch.”

It’s a tricky situation for the developers, but it’s hard to feel entirely sorry for them when so much of this could have been communicated from the outset. Gamers and developers have become more accustomed to new development styles in the growing years thanks to Kickstarter and evolution, and having an open conversation from the beginning could have stopped a lot of fans from becoming irate.


  • Anyone remember Warhammer Online? They did the same thing and released other races/classes incrementally.

    The game is dead.

    • What’re you on about? WAR is dead because EA gutted Mythic preventing them from releasing many patches or new content, then GW yanked the license.
      They didn’t drip feed races or classes, though they did add a few new classes for free after launch.

  • The problem here (and with countless other games that get released today) is that the pressure is on developers to have not only a main game but planned DLC as well. If there’s no DLC, split the main game into little chunks. It used to be that you’d create a game, see if it’s successful, then start work on an add-on/DLC later on. Now you need to have a game and the DLC already mapped out to please the bean counters for the year after launch which means that you’re going to launch a revised and smaller vanilla product. The Creative Assembly guys themselves said it, they wanted to have Chaos Warriors in the game, they were told not to.

    Anyways, after Rome 2’s launch that wasn’t exactly widely praised, I’ll be surprised if many people at all have pre-ordered this

    • I understand the rise of DLC. It’s actually super beneficial to the rank and file workers in a development studio because it means the guys who are effectively ‘done’ working after certification starts don’t get fired because they don’t have anything to do, only to be re-hired once the project is closed and the studio officially starts work on the next title.

      Additionally, developers have long told stories about the maps, characters, weapons, and mechanics that have been left on the cutting room floor because they couldn’t work it in and release on time (and a deadline is important). DLC means we probably see a lot more of that cut content than we otherwise would.

      Still, it’s hard not to be cycnical about who’s setting the deadlines, and how close they’re intentionally cutting it.

      • I completely understand stuff being cut from a game and what have you, that will always happen but when you have something like Destiny where stuff was intentionally left out so it could be sold at a later date as DLC…

        The fact that this is day one DLC though which is the absolute worst kind…gamers aren’t taking kindly upon that

        • Yeah there’s a difference between DLC that is stuff we wouldn’t see otherwise, and DLC that was deliberately cut from the main game so can be sold for extra. I think people are sick and tired of the latter.

        • The stupid thing is that CA isn’t even holding with their own tradition here. Rome 2 had the Greek states DLC which you could buy outright or, if you played through the campaign and beat them, you could then play one of the Greek states in your next playthrough. Total Warhammer doesn’t even seem to give that option for Chaos; it’s either preorder or buy as DLC.

          Race Packs are probably going to be the main money spinner for Total Warhammer (moreso than the inevitable blood and gore pack) simply because the base game has four playable races. Heck, there should be a tonne more content for a Warhammer game than what’s currently being shown for Total Warhammer. No Elves of any sort, no Bretonnians, no Ogres, no Tomb Kings, no Lizardmen, bundling Greenskins together rather than having separate Goblins and Orks, Chaos looking very barebones despite being gated (didn’t even show off any Daemons). The game is being deliberately hamstrung so that it will have a better continuous financial return which is terrible for players. It’s taking the Street Fighter DLC model and applying it to a RTS.

          • I miss the days of wiping out a state or nation and you unlock them as a playable option in your next playthrough. Plus the add ons for Rome and Medieval 2 weren’t simple DLC to play as a different nation, they did whole new campaigns on completely different maps (in Medieval 2 at least). Kingdoms is one of my favourite expansions for any game ever and it has a wealth of new options with it. DLC has changed into a quick and easy cashgrab

    • Anyways, after Rome 2’s launch that wasn’t exactly widely praised, I’ll be surprised if many people at all have pre-ordered this

      Yep these guys well and truly burned my faith in them with that disgrace. No chance of a pre-order from them ever again. I’ll wait on this one, and in the mean time keep playing the awesome Warhammer Med2 mod 😛

  • The problem is anything games workshop touches loses it’s soul and becomes a money grab. Rather than improving an experience if they are losing sales they try to monetize previously free things which just causes more customers to turn away.

    • This has nothing to do with GW, this is a gaming trend that is toxic. Stop drinking the GW hate cool-aid and open your eyes.

  • money money money money.. I mean devs gotta live too, and afford to make more games. they don’t sell enough and it’s harder and harder to sell an expensive game in an age when people play free or really cheap. so… DLCs, micro-transactions.. anything goes if it brings more money. of course, unfortunately, this is offensive to players, ergo…. the angry mob. but it’s all right as long as the angry mob keeps buying.

  • If Im not mistaken.. way back when the price of games was still at 59.99 for AAA titles DLC was an after thought.. and often released a year later or not available at all. What exactly has changed? The cost. You silly cheap bumbkins fail to realize the cost of making games is far higher than just 10 years ago. Let alone 20. Complaining about this will only limit our options.. ie no free dlc with pre order. But go ahead.. most gamers are young ignorant self entitled little idiots anyway. Smh

  • how has the cost changed exactly? Can I have the option to pay 59.99 and get a full game minus the Actor voice overs and multimillion dollar cut scenes? The problem isn’t that the cost of making the game went up but that the norm for a game now is to be filled with cut scenes to the point that its more of a movie than game… Also let not full ourselves and think that these companies pay their dev’s per gig of game… They get SALARIES!!! so no the production cost of games is not the issue especially when you consider the cost of delivering the game is now close to nothing. (digital products do not take up space, nor do you have to print x number of hardcopies in order to ship/sell them).

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