Look at this game, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think your collection’s complete with an immersive Disney game filled with your favorite characters? Yes, yes, it’s all well and good until you see the true cost of playing Disney Dreamlight Valley, especially compared to the quality of the experience you get.
The game is becoming a guilty pleasure for me at this point – I absolutely love farming and creating a delightful village for my Disney-licensed friends to live in, but the performance remains questionable and I can’t agree with the massive monetization.
For a bit of backstory, Disney Dreamlight Valley released into early access in September 2022, costing between $30-$70, depending on which edition you wanted to purchase. These included some of the game’s premium currency, moonstones, and exclusive clothing and furniture items, among other customization bits and pieces. For an early access game, this is quite a high cost.
What really drew people in was the promise that after the early access period – which was presumably to work out any performance issues and bugs in the game – DDLV would be free on all platforms while giving players the opportunity to purchase premium currency and items with money.
Well, sorry, but that didn’t happen. As the first anniversary rolls around and the game prepared to leave early access on December 5, 2023 (though not in a particularly better shape than it ever was before), Gameloft announces that it decided to keep the game as a paid experience and not let it go free to play – which was, ironically, one of the game’s selling points. The studio also added a paid expansion pass as well as some more paid DLC options and kept all the microtransactions in the game.
No one really expected the game to be completely affordable, but this is taking the Mickey. Who decided this? Scrooge McDuck? Anyway, I digress. Of course, if you enjoy the game, you’re allowed to pay what you like to continue enjoying it – but for those without a lot of cash to throw at a game, it sours the experience.
So, if you want the full Disney Dreamlight Valley experience with all the trimmings, how much do you need to pay? Grab a calculator and let’s have a look. The initial base game now costs between $39.99 and $69.99 on Nintendo Switch, at least. The Rift in Time expansion pass costs $29.99 separately. If you want to get the two costume packs for Wall-E and Ursula, they cost 4,000 moonstones each. But how much are moonstones? You can’t buy a pack of 8,000, so you’d need to buy a regular and a big pack for $9.99 and $19.99 to afford both costume bundles. You can earn moonstones in the game, but they’re deliberately rare and then readily available in the store.
All in all, with the game, expansion, and two costume packs, you’re looking at an eye-watering $99.96. And that’s before you top your wallet up with any extra moonstones you want for the Star Path rewards!
To compare this to another money-hungry game, let’s look at Sims 4. For $9.99, you can pick up a Stuff Pack, which includes hairstyles, cosmetics, clothing, and furniture – averaging 50-60 new items – and occasionally some new, small gameplay mechanics. In Disney Dreamlight Valley, you need to pay $9.99 for a pack of moonstones to get a summer outfit for Scrooge McDuck… and that’s it. No quests, no nothing. As one Redditor said of this situation, ‘You know it’s bad when EA is giving the better deal’.
If you don’t want to shell out $50 for the game, you can play it for ‘free’ on Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade, but these are paid services. While it cuts out some upfront costs, you pay a lot for these services over time. Oh, and here’s another thing – if you want to buy the game physically, you can get it in the Cozy Edition… however it’s a code in a box, and you don’t get a game card.
I’m no stranger to paying for things in-game – I frequently pay for primogems in Genshin Impact, but the difference there is that it’s worth it, given the game itself is free, huge, and runs without issue 99.9% of the time, with constant hefty updates – all for free. I cannot say the same for Disney Dreamlight Valley.
Aside from the sour feeling provided by the original promise of DDLV being free for all players on all platforms getting revoked, the cost is incredibly high when you consider the games’ quality and performance, and I don’t think it’s worth it on the whole.
Since its release, the game has had multiple issues on every platform. Crashes, servers not working for days on end, Olaf and Kristoff becoming one gelatinous character inside Anna’s house, players falling out of the world, quests bugging out so you can’t progress, having any number of issues with character models turning different colors and textures – players have seen it all. Even the recent release of the expansion pass is not without problems, despite the game being out of early access and costly to play.
It’s a question of whether the game is really ready to be out of early access and a fully paid game. Personally, I’m unsure. It still seems a little rough around the edges, considering it’s a full release after an entire year of early access testing, and every time one issue gets a fix, something else seems to arise.
I also wonder what this means for the future of Disney Dreamlight Valley. Will there be more paid expansion passes or just one? This current pass is getting updates of its own in the future alongside those coming to the main game, but still, $30 is a hefty price. I, for one, almost feel like Dreamlight Valley will go down a Sims 4 route, where the base game does become free, but everything else requires you to buy it. But even then, with some elements of forced change and high costs – is that even worth it?
We’ll just have to wait and see and make our own minds up. If you are playing the game, here are the available Disney Dreamlight Valley codes, and here are some games like Animal Crossing to try if you love decorating like I do.