Is it based on monetary cost, filesize, perceived value or something else entirety?


2 Answers 2


Let's look at the definitions:

  • microtransaction: a very small financial transaction conducted online.

  • DLC: additional content created for a released video game.

  • Expansion pack: a separate product that builds on top of an existing game to add significant new features. (usually disc based)

Basically, microtransactions don't make the games bigger, they simply allow you to buy virtual items already in it.

For stuff that actually makes the game bigger, if it's downloadable online, then it's a DLC, if it's available as a physical copy, then it's an expansion pack. (DLCs are basically expansion packs, this just states the narrowest possible term you can use for them)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd quibble with the definition of Expansion Pack as requiring a physical copy. From the data I've seen, an increasing share of games and game content are available exclusively digitally, so this physical requirement might exclude significant examples. If I were to purchase a whole new story campaign with new maps and playable classes, even if I purchased it digitally, I'd be inclined to call that an expansion pack. It's still downloadable content too, so the definitions overlap a bit there. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory A DLC is an expansion pack, I'm just listing the narrowest terminology of them (I'll include this in the answer) \$\endgroup\$
    – Bálint
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 21:31

Micro transactions let you get new things like health kits, gun repairs,etc. Stuff you already can get in game but just want to pay money for to get quicker.

DLCs and expansions though give you new game play. A whole new weapon, a whole new area of the game map, or a new type of game play not available in the original game.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "A whole new weapon" is a corner case. There are quite a lot of free to play multiplayer games which allow you to buy individual weapons with real money or with ingame currency through the same interface which is used for other microtransactions. I would rather consider such a purchase a microtransaction rather than DLC or expansions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd rephrase then as "set of weapons" perhaps. I'm currently going through Fallout: New Vegas, and one of the DLC packs is just weapons - just new items you can buy from various vendors. Gun Runners' Arsenal "increases the number of unique weapons, weapon mods and powerful ammunition types and adds other ammo recipes to be discovered in the Mojave Wasteland." \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Holt
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 3:48

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