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Total War developer issues an apology, totally overhauls DLC plans

Refunds for Pharaoh, delays. and free stuff for Warhammer 3

Karl Franz, the head of the Empire in Total War: Warhammer 3, stands in front of several generals Image: Creative Assembly/Sega
Mike Mahardy leads game criticism and curation at Polygon as senior editor, reviews. He has been covering entertainment professionally for more than 10 years.

After several uncertain months, developer Creative Assembly has announced changes to the DLC road map for Total War: Warhammer 3 and refunds for players of Total War: Pharaoh.

Thrones of Decay, the Warhammer 3 DLC that was slated to add new units and leaders to the Empire, Dwarfs, and Nurgle factions in the grand strategy game in “winter 2023,” is now planned for an April 2024 release date. However, anyone who purchased the Shadows of Change DLC in August will get more content in February at no additional cost. Total War: Pharaoh, on the other hand, will get its first new content in “early 2024” as planned, but it will now be a free update as opposed to paid DLC.

Furthermore, Pharaoh’s price has also dropped to $39.99 (previously $59.99), and anyone who already owned it will receive a “partial refund.” Creative Assembly is also removing the Deluxe and Dynasty editions of the game from digital storefronts.

The changes, which Creative Assembly outlined in a blog post on Thursday, were accompanied by an apology from vice president Roger Collum after a turbulent few months. The studio drew criticism for Shadows of Change’s $24.99 price point in August, which many players felt wasn’t commensurate with the DLC’s content. Whereas the previous DLC (Forge of the Chaos Dwarfs) added an entirely new faction, along with dozens of new units for the game’s real-time strategy battles for the same price, Shadows of Change was mainly building on factions that were already in the game. A mid-August blog post from Creative Assembly, seemingly meant to explain the pricing change within the context of the studio’s changing economic needs, drew even more criticism for its perceived lack of substance. Players proceeded to review bomb Warhammer 3 on Steam.

As for Total War: Pharaoh, Creative Assembly thinks the new price is a “fairer cost for the game.” Judging by recent Steam reviews, players didn’t find the game’s content to be worth the $59.99 it has cost since October.

“It has been a difficult few months, and we recognize that we have made mistakes when it comes to our relationship with you all,” Collum wrote in the blog post. “It’s been a constant conversation internally on how we can get back to solid ground. What’s clear is that it won’t be easy and that it will take time and effort.”

The renewed attention on Total War’s future comes after the cancellation of Creative Assembly’s Hyenas extraction shooter. The studio laid off employees shortly afterward, joining a litany of companies that have taken similar steps to adjust to the video game industry’s downturn in 2023.

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