I'm kind of new to gaming and I am somewhat confused about all the terminology regarding to types of video game releases. I would appereciate if anyone can clarify somethings for me.

As I understand it, DLCs are additional content for the "base game", but what can exactly be considered the base game? I know the obvious one which is the standard edition of the game! But what I want to know is whether an alternative version such as remastered version or a ported version (e.g. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its mobile or Nintendo ports) or even the special editions of the game can be considered a base game as well?

Is there any other term to refer to the base game?

3 Answers 3


The base game is usually the first complete released piece of content.
It is also referred to at times as 'vanilla', as in the unflavoured or basic flavoured version, but - as isanae rightly points out in the comments - this term is mostly used to set a game with or without any officially released content apart from a modded version.
In some instances you can already get versions of a game which include additional and/or exclusive content (presented with cool names like Gold Edition, or Collector's Edition, the latter of which often features additional physical trinkets), or will include future content (which is often available separately as well).

All DLC also often comes in the form of a so-called Season Pass.

Newer releases can include more of the content that has been released in the mean time, like all DLC. For example, when a game has been selected as Game of the Year, it is usually rereleased in a Game of the Year or GOTY edition, and, as far as I know, always includes all DLC/the Season Pass.
Sets including all available content from the get-go can be released as Ultimate Editions.

A remaster or Remastered Edition is a game that has been updated in one way or another. This is often a graphical update, where models or textures are of a higher fidelity or resolution, new graphical effects like Depth of Field, Ambient Occlusion, DLSS, or Ray Tracing have been implemented, or a game simply supports higher resolutions. But a remaster can also contain new or originally cut content, like how films have Director's Cuts.

Do note, however, that while they seem to adhere to a naming convention, editions with similar names do not always contain content you expect based on that convention.

DLC is an abbreviation for DownLoadable Content.
It is usually used for a sizeable chunk of new content for the base game, offering a large new questline, a new significant piece of game world, new gameplay possibilities, and so on.

A game (or other piece of software) that was originally released on a specific platform (PC, PS, XBox, &c.) but later on (partially) rewritten and/or recoded for a different platform is called a port.

A bundle is a relatively loose term: first and foremost I have to think about game bundles (e.g. the Humble Bundle) that offer a specific set or different tiers of games for certain price thresholds.
But a bundle can also be a base game bundled with certain DLC or less significant content (centred around a distinguishing theme, for example), or a combination of games from a particular series or IP.

  • 5
    Often, you buy season passes prior to any DLC even being released for the game. I personally don't really like them, because you pay for something upfront and have to wait before you get any value out of it, which for me, usually means I'm already bored of the game so it becomes a waste. It has to be a game I really like for me to buy one! The flip side is, you can always wait until DLC comes out, and then by the season pass (in most cases)
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 13:20
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    I think vanilla is more often used in the context of modding, not DLCs. You can have a full game, including DLCs, and play it vanilla or modded.
    – isanae
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 20:55
  • 1
    "this term is mostly used to set a game apart from a modded version (with or without any officially released content)." [it doesn't read well (especially after a shoutout to a commenter with an insane lowercase name) and it's missing a page break after]
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 3:37
  • 2
    A "port" with a different title that looks like a different game is a different game, and definitely not a port.
    – pinckerman
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 15:01
  • 3
    @pinckerman Yeap especially since port is actually not a game term but rather a software term with a specific meaning, of transforming the code base of a piece of software in such a way to be able to compile and run it on a different system.
    – DRF
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 15:02

Base game means each software product (in either digital or physical format) which does not include trial, premium content, or additional downloadable content. The "vanilla" version.

Remastered and ported versions are still considered "base game", as long as they have the same content of the original version. This means that they can't have premium content or DLCs that weren't included in the base version.
Of course, if the condensed port is a "lite" version with some missing feature, that's not considered base game either.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 21:52

In the context of DLC, the "base game" simply means "the game to which the DLC adds content". That's it. The provider of the DLC will indicate which game this is.

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