Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Thoughts on potential Democracy 4 expansions / DLC

Democracy 4 has been released from early access over a month ago, and has had 2 big updates since then, and further updates to the game, especially regarding balance tweaks, are definitely coming. However, I am a big fan of the ‘expansion pack’ model of the business, because I think it has a number of positives:

  • It allows players who are only casually into the game to play an approachable and simple base version
  • It gives scope for players to choose which expansions to get, based on their level of interest
  • It means that I can learn from peoples’ feedback on the base game and produce the sort of extra content people might want

Of course, the big question is exactly what part of the game to expand upon or add to. There are a bunch of ideas floating around in my head, and I thought it only sensible to get those ideas out there in the wider world to canvas feedback from real players of the game, so in no order at all, here are some idea.

DLC idea #1 Voting Systems

We already did an electioneering expansion pack for Democracy 3, but all of that content is already included for free in the base game for Democracy 4. However, I think there is a lot of scope here. For example, right now the player has no influence in direct terms, on the voter turnout. We could add policies to encourage voter turnout, like information campaigns (which may or may not benefit you, depending on your electorate). Perhaps polling data could show what the result would be like when polling only likely voters! Also we could model voting reform, so whether or not to lower (or even raise) the voting age, whether party donations are capped, or can be anonymous, can come from corporations or foreign nationals…

There could also be some modeling of campaigning tactics. I like the idea of the player having to choose from a list of different metrics (GDP, Unemployment etc) on which to focus a year before the election, so the player has to be wary of what they drew attention to in their campaign literature. We could also allow attack ads, at a possible risk of backfiring.

Also, some countries like the UK ban political TV ads. We could have this policy, and also maybe a ban on robocalls. We could also have limits on who can stand in elections (US president must be US born etc), and if the state funds political parties at all.

Electoral reform: the fine print matters : Democratic Audit

DLC idea #2 Situation Room

This one would expand on the terrorist threat element already in the game. I’ve spent a fair bit of time on this idea. Basically it would introduce time-limited decisions to the game, where a serious threat or event takes place and the president (you) has to make a decision on what to do RIGHT NOW, in a ‘the clock is ticking’ style. This would mean no time to consult a lot of data, and a gut decision.

An example dilemma is shown below. I think it would be interesting if the advice and intelligence given in these sudden events would be dependent on how involved your intelligence/security network was, so it would be harder for liberal democracies, and easier for more authoritarian states, to add some tension between liberal principles and security:


I think of this idea as a sort of ‘west-wing situation room meets 24’ style political thriller expansion, where the player has to deal with lost of situations that with any luck, the general voting population never even hear about. We could have dirty bomb threats, suicide bombers, espionage from other countries, and the possibility of using illegal measures covertly to protect the security of the country.

In game-mechanic terms, I keep coming back to the idea of this involving what are in effect spruced-up dilemmas, but with a timer, and no opportunity to gather extra dat and come back to them.

DLC idea #3 Dirty Tricks

This would basically be a corruption, scandals and dirty tricks expansion, where the game effectively tempts you to be corrupt, with potentially bad consequences later. We can all sadly come up with tons of ways in which we could model this. I know one game (might be tropico) actually used to let you put money in your own private account, and we could do a similar thing here, literally taking money in exchange for policies :D

I think there is a lot of scope here. You could order the secret service to look for embarrassing or compromising information on opposition leaders or campaigners. You could literally bribe the press to give you better media coverage. There would be an option to just flat out lie about some government statistics, to prosecute whistleblowers, to threaten journalists and so on.

We have a very slight element of this in the game already whereby general media censorship means that political media spin events are more likely to be perceived as positive. However, I can imagine it being an option where an event clearly backfires but you can then choose to flat out threaten any journalists that reported on it.

Intimidation at polling stations by violent gangs ordered indirectly by you would also be included here.

Perhaps we could track both your own morals (on a good -> corrupt axis) along with your private bank account, as things that a player could choose to focus on for their own satisfaction :D. I can imagine an interesting situation where players who decide to play a game completely fairly and with principles would be tempted before a difficult election to bribe some journalists “just this once” etc.

Justin Trudeau anointed by Richard Nixon - at four months old | Canada |  The Guardian

DLC idea #4 Country Pack

Pretty self explanatory. I think there are a bunch of interesting countries that could be added to the game. Switzerland strikes me as interesting, as does Poland, maybe also Turkey and perhaps a country like Honduras. I think the goal would be to pick interesting countries, not just ones with the most players, and take the time to represent them as well as possible, so doing a lot of research into the economics and political environment for each one. That probably involves a bunch of new policies and situations and dilemmas for each country to represent their specific challenges.

West Bay Beach - Roatan Island, Honduras - West Bay Beach, West Bay  Traveller Reviews - Tripadvisor

Anyway… I have not decided yet, and am not currently working on DLC, but I was interested to get anybody’s first reaction to which direction to head in. I’ll check comments here, and post a twitter poll at

3 thoughts on Thoughts on potential Democracy 4 expansions / DLC

  1. I like the Situation Room idea, though could that be expanded on to include other major events. Might connect with your previous blogs about it becoming too easy after a few years in power – if major events (world wide pandemic?) not only required Situation Room style decisions, but also had public impact and could cause fast and significant shifts in voter group priorities? Could require the player to adapt their approach to keep people happy

    I admit I’ve not actually play D4 yet (sorry!) so not sure if you already have major events like that in the game.

  2. Please may you add a controls for a central bank into the standard game. It would be nice to have more direct controls on the country’s financials. Also please add more developing countries like South Africa, Brazil, India, Ukraine and Mexico for example.

  3. If you want interesting countries, here’s one: India. :| Good luck! I feel like it would be very interesting and fun too.

Comments are currently closed.