What Is An Expansion Worth?


When posing the question of what an expansion or DLC pack is worth, the answer will always be subjective. In this case, the question is also rhetorical. I just found myself thinking about it after playing through nearly all the new content from Destiny’s Rise of Iron expansion which released yesterday.

Everyone calculates value differently. For some it may be based upon how many hours of content there are. For others, it’s the quality. For others still, it’s both or neither; it could be something else entirely.

Before I get started, allow me to say that I love Destiny; I do. I’ve loved it since the Alpha, and even more since it officially released. The game has improved by leaps and bounds since launch, and for that, I’m grateful. It’s one of the very best co-op games around. My partner and I loved it so much that it prompted us to invest in a second PS4, just so we could guardian around in space together.

But last night, after I finished most of the new content offered in Rise of Iron (save for the raid which drops later this week), I wondered: was it worth $30? If the base game was $60 at launch, is this worth the value of half that cost?

Now you’ll have to forgive me here, because some lines of thought make sense to me, but might not make sense to others. For that I’m sorry, and I’ll try to be as clear as possible.

I liked Rise of Iron. I didn’t love it. I didn’t like it nearly as much as The Taken King, and I just felt like it was missing something. For the first time in Destiny history, I felt the writing was a bit off, and the voice acting a little over the top.

I’ve never once thought those things about Destiny before, though I have made no surprise of my preference for the Dinklebot over the Nolan Northbot. North may be an excellent voice actor, but I often find his version of the Ghost cringey.

To each his or her own.

Back to the vibe of Rise of Iron.

At first I thought it was just me who found the writing and voice acting not up to par, but the other two people in my fireteam were often in giggles at just how over the top and not great certain moments were. That’s not to say the DLC is bad, it’s just got a very different sound than the rest of the game and its expansions.

I loved the snow in Rise of Iron, and the wolves were great, except they appeared strangely animated. I can’t imagine how difficult  it must be to create something in a game that is believable, but I think there is still a long road ahead for realistic looking wolves.

I did appreciate that they yawned, though. That was adorable.

Back to value.

I went back through the prices of each chunk of Destiny content since release and felt increasingly stranger. I wouldn’t say I felt ripped off, but I did feel a little overcharged. Of course, it was my decision to buy into those content releases, so I have no one to blame but myself.

Destiny released back in 2014 for the standard retail video game price: $60. A lot of folks didn’t feel it was worth the price, but I absolutely did.

Here comes that subjectivity.

I spent so much time with the base game and loved just about all of it. And, when the first new expansion released, I was as excited as everyone else who loved the game. The Dark Below was listed with a price of $20, and House of Wolves followed with the same price, though you could buy the expansion pass and get both for the price of $35 (saving you a whole $5!). The Dark Below (according to How Long To Beat) takes roughly four hours to complete, and House of Wolves takes about three.

When The Taken King released, it cost $40 and averaged about 23 hours to beat.

I adored The Taken King and felt it was a robust and exciting experience. It gave us not only new content, but new subclasses, which made everything feel fresh.

Rise of Iron took me far less than a day to complete (again, save for the raid which has yet to be released), and it cost $30. This was the first time I overtly felt that the price of admission was a little too high.

Again, I chose to pay it, so that’s on me.

For half the cost of the original retail release, I got a small expansion (but I knew that ahead of time). My main issue was the quality. I just felt it wasn’t up to Bungie’s other forays in the Destiny universe. Therein lies my disappointment.

To be fair, I tried to mete out my thoughts about expansion prices, and came up with the following:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s expansion pass cost $25 and included two large pieces of content: Hearts of Stone, and Blood and Wine. The average play time for those two expansions (total) is around 45 hours. That is so much content. And not just content, but quality content.

How many times can I say “content?”


Another game known for its DLC is the original Borderlands. The four DLC packs were priced at $10 each and the average play times are listed as follows: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned (average of six hours), Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot (average of four hours, but if you tackled the larger challenges, the time shot up to far more than that), The Secret Armory of General Knoxx (average of nine hours), and Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution (average of five hours). Each one is worth the time (though, admittedly, I didn’t care for the Moxxi DLC nearly as much as the others) and, in my opinion, the money. Of course now you can buy the Game of the Year edition with all of them for a pittance, which remains an excellent deal.

The thing that really made me think about all this was something I happened to see currently for sale in Destiny: you can buy a particular package for each of the three different guardians. For $30, you get a consumable pack that will level one of your guardians to the max level of 40, as well as a subclass boost, and telemetries.

$30 to basically rank up one character and not even level up all three subclasses. That felt like it neared cash-grab status. It was disappointing to see, but then, if people want it, who am I to judge?

I have conflicting feelings here.

Basically, I want people to have a good time. If they are fine with the prices paid, then that’s great for them.

For my own part, I’m not upset, I’m just concerned at where this pricing structure is going. If this is how much Rise of Iron cost, who’s to say how much Destiny 2 will be? Where does it escalate from here? Should the Destiny community be concerned as a whole? Should the gaming community be concerned that expansion prices are often not representative of quality and/or quantity?

I’m not even sure where I land on the issue at large; I tend to simply take it on an expansion by expansion basis.

How do you feel about expansions, DLC, prices, and value? What do you look for in an expansion for a game? Do you like season passes? I’d love to discuss this, as I’m genuinely interested to hear how people feel about the subject.

8 replies »

  1. The way I see RoI is that’s the pay the designers are going to have to make the smaller content e.g.( SRL, Festival of the Lost, new maps, and other seasonal or otherwise content). I do agree that the price was too high though, $20 feels more reasonable given what we initially got.


      • I understood what you meant, it just concerns me if that is their business plan. How they finance Destiny 2 is Activision’s concern, not mine. I have paid full price for every new chunk of Destiny content. I have done my part and supported them with my proverbial wallet.

        I know that probably sounds harsh towards you and it’s not meant to. I’m just concerned about how the cost of new content has gotten inflated and the amount of content deflated.


    • But here’s my concern with that: I’m paying for newly released (existing) content, not future content. Activision is the one who is responsible to financing that. If they start adopting that kind of mentality, I may have to stop being a day-one participant in Destiny expansions.


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