You often receive DLCs on Humble Bundle or similar sites without owning the base game. Can I activate them without worries?

For sure I can't play the game, but assuming that you are waiting for a sale on the base game for example, it would be the easiest method just to activate it.

Maybe it is also depending on which game, does anybody have experience with this issue?

3 Answers 3


If you don't own the base game, Steam won't allow you to activate an add-on (eg, DLC) for it. You'll need to own the base game on Steam first.

Edit: The error you get is as below:

enter image description here

  • 2
    So is there a notification when I try to activate it and what kind of? Apr 11, 2016 at 8:47
  • 4
    Either This content requires the base game %s on Steam in order to play. or This requires the base game on Steam in order to play., where %s is the base game's name.
    – Mave
    Apr 11, 2016 at 10:09
  • What happens if the code includes multiple games and DLCs? Are you blocked from using the code or the DLCs just disappear?
    – Nelson
    Apr 12, 2016 at 14:39

You cannot activate it without owning the base game on steam. Steam will show you a message that you need to purchase the base game first.


You need to contact Steam support and see what happens if you purchased, via external sources, DLCs for games you do not own.

Under normal Steam store functionality, you are unable to purchase the DLC unless you own the base game. What happens if the DLC game came from redeeming a key can only be answered properly by Steam support.

  • Not sure why you've been downvoted...
    – Terry
    Apr 11, 2016 at 11:16
  • 1
    See, this directly contradicts the accepted answer... This is why you do need to contact support.
    – Nelson
    Apr 11, 2016 at 15:07
  • 8
    -1 | No research effort: You're saying I don't know, ask Steam support.
    – aytimothy
    Apr 11, 2016 at 23:19
  • 1
    @QuestionMarks The accepted answer proves, that you can't enter the DLC code without owning the base game or did I misunderstood something? Apr 12, 2016 at 6:05
  • @h0ch5tr4355 Nope, the accepted answer is right. I'm pretty sure this wasn't always the case, but Guy Shapter got it right Apr 12, 2016 at 13:25

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