Is it anyway possible for content being made from the base game to be cut by some outside reason then held back without any additional development work then be sold god-knows how long later down the line? Doesn’t sound fundamentally feasible to me, but I see that rhetoric topic all the time on a game I know of.

Nah, it isn’t possible. The act of cutting content requires us not just to remove the cut content itself, but we also need to clean up all existing connections to that cut content so that the game doesn’t break due to missing assets. This means that re-adding the content later will require us to create a bunch of new connections to the game to make the content connect with the greater whole that is the game.

John Matrix, from "Commando", swings an axe to chop something.ALT

Imagine that we decide to cut level 4 from our game. In addition to removing level 4, we now have to make sure that nothing else in the game references level 4. This means:

  • ensure that completing level 3 takes the player to level 5 instead of level 4
  • any mission-critical items that were supposed to be in level 4 get redistributed to other levels
  • any player abilities earned or tutorials taught in level 4 must be re-distributed to another level
  • any achievements that require anything exclusive to level 4 are removed or redistributed
  • any characters or codex entries introduced in level 4 are removed or redistributed
  • … and so on.

We have to make the rest of the game work without ever referencing level 4, because it must be as if level 4 does not exist.

Thor declares "This drink, I like it! Another!" as he smashes the coffee mug on the floor.ALT

Now imagine that we’ve launched the game. Players are enjoying it. We decide to sell level 4 to the players post-launch as DLC. How would we go about doing that? Nothing in the game refers to or connects to level 4 in any way. All of the new content from level 4 has already been re-distributed. We can’t just plug level 4 back into the game like it was before it was cut. We would need to build a bunch of new connections to the game for level 4 to make sense. There must be a new way to let the game know when the player should enter level 4. There must be some kind of new rewards for completing level 4. We’d probably have to re-tune the difficulty since level 4 probably wouldn’t be inserted between level 3 and 5 (especially after the re-distribution of all of the level 4 stuff to other levels), but be post-game content instead.

Cyborg tells Starfire "We have a lot of work ahead of us."ALT

Clearly, there’s significant development work that must be done in order to take the old level 4 and turning it into something that players would want to play post-launch and be willing to pay for. Cutting content and adding it back in later doesn’t work because of all of the work that went into removing that content to begin with. This is why we typically cut content that isn’t mission critical and has the least overall footprint on the game.

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