The first major Crusader Kings 3 expansion, Royal Court, has been a long time coming, finally launching earlier this week. The DLC could well be the biggest one yet in Paradox's grand strategy roster, with new culture mechanics, a duelling system and, among other things, a fully rendered 3D court in which to show off your heirlooms, schmooze guests and slip some hemlock in their goblets if they misbehave.
But all this grandeur comes at a price—£25/$30 to be precise—making Royal Court a fair bit more expensive than the £15/$20 pricepoint that Paradox's big expansions traditionally come in at. Whether or not the bumped-up tax in the Crusader Kings holding is justified, the players are revolting.
At the time of writing, the expansion has a 'Mixed' rating on Steam, with exactly 50% of players giving it the thumbs-down and many of those negative reviews pointing to the price.
Skipping over the rabble of semi-coherent rage reviews, even amidst the positive reviews some players feel it's a tad pricey. One reviewer, Dr. Ramses, had this to say: "Got the Royal Edition and the expansion really adds a lot of depth and a whole new layer of complexity but I agree with the negging, $30 is a lot to ask for this." There's even an admittance of shameless loyalty from Bo, who wrote, quite succinctly: "It's expensive for what it is buuut.. I'm a cuck for Paradox."
Over on Reddit, the discussion has been more nuanced, with one of the most upvoted comments in a thread coming from Redditor Gh0stMask, who said:
"I have to say, that I absolutely love the new DLC, mixing cultures was something I wished for since launch of the game. But I think the big problem is the really high price. I mean they do deliver and in my opinion very good, but it's still pretty expensive, and i hope the will not follow this price strategy any further, if they do this once its ok, imo, but if every major expansion will cost €30 it's getting too much…"
Dissatisfaction with the value of DLC has accompanied games like Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II for years, and actually a 'Mixed' Steam rating isn't out of keeping with past content. Despite the increased price, it seems that there's enough value here to keep it in line with the sentiment on past Paradox DLC (which is to say, divided).
In a series where DLC merges so seamlessly into the existing game rather than, say, offering new campaigns or lands to explore, perhaps defining 'good value' becomes a little hazy. On the other hand, these games have been running for a long enough time now that players should probably know what to expect, and perhaps wait for the price to drop to something that won't give them a bad case of conniptions?
On that note, right now you can grab Royal Court on WinGameStore for £18/$24. Does that suddenly push it into 'good value' territory? Who knows. What we can say is that here at PC Gamer, Fraser has spent a fair bit of time with Royal Court and loved it, praising how it doubles down on the RPG leanings of the game and the added freedom it gives you in ruling your realms.