Kerbal Space Program makes expansions free for existing game owners

Marsh Davies at

Kerbal Space Program is a game in which you build rockets to fire boggle-eyed creatures into orbit. It's been the centre of a semantic kerfuffle, as its community argues over what constitutes an "update" versus an "expansion". Early adopters of the game were promised free updates, following the Minecraft model of increasing the price as the game moves towards completion. But developers Squad recently suggested that expansions - which might introduce "major game-changing sets of features" - would have a separate price-tag.

After some, uh, robust debate over the meaning of these terms and the expectations of their existing customers, Squad have announced that they will now make all updates and expansions free to customers who own the game already or buy it before the end of April.

"It became clear to us that many might have already taken that statement to mean something else than we did when they bought the game, and so had a different notion of what it was they were getting with their initial purchase," said the dev team in a statement.

"We have to admit though, up until now, we hadn't considered Expansion Packs to be the same as updates to KSP. That was in large part because we really had no plans for actual expansions at all.

"But as you can imagine, over the course of the 2 and a half years we've been developing KSP, we've come across many ideas that we thought were very cool, but didn't really fit the original scope of the game. Those would have led us astray from our vision of the complete game, not to mention that they could take many months, if not years, to implement."

Nonetheless, in an effort to patch things up and do right by the game's community, Squad will make such things available to customers who already own the game. Though this promise remains somewhat moot, since Squad make it clear that they aren't anywhere near to announcing an expansion.

"We're still quite a long way from that. Our one focus right now is to complete KSP, that is why career mode is the priority now. Once we get to what we can call a complete game, we'll see where we go next from there."

It's an odd situation: I wouldn't mind paying for content that might take several years of development work - and I wonder if the controversy would have happened at all if they'd used the word "sequel" instead of "expansion". And yet it seems a fairly reasonable inference that updates and expansions are the same thing and it's good to see Squad honour those expectations. Hopefully this will draw a line under the matter and everyone can get back to the real task of firing terrified Kerbals to drift forever through the abyssal darkness of space.