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Modification to game items to provide uses that are more specialized.

Some games allow players to upgrade their equipment in various ways. While this most often improves players' chances to perform actions or the effect of those actions, Sidegrades instead provide specific improvements that are not generally positive but only so in specific circumstances.


Sidegrades have primarily been created in the Team Fortress 2 game. Here, gaining various achievements lets players replace various weapons they have for variants with some advantages and some disadvantages compared to the basic weapons. Examples of such alternative weapons include the Huntsman, the Kritzkrieg, the Flare gun, and the Sandwich. It should be noted however that it is not easy to perfectly balance advantages to disadvantages, and for this reason debates among players do not find consensus if specific equipment are Sidegrades or not.

Battlefield 2 allows players to unlock new weapons when they advance in ranks. These weapons, e.g. the DAO-12 shotgun, provide some advantages but also some disadvantages (e.g. slow reloads for the DAO-12) which makes them into Sidegrades rather than upgrades.

Using the pattern

Sidegrades are typically created in ways similar to Upgrades, but with Decreased Abilities added so that the Improved Abilities inherent in Upgrades are balanced by the Decreased Abilities. One example of a potential Sidegrade is scopes, which may provide more accuracy when shooting at long ranges but make it more difficult to use weapons in close-quarters battles. Given the difficulty of finding a right balance, Sidegrades are often volatile design solutions that can turn into Upgrades or "downgrades" if players realize that optimal strategies exist.

Like Upgrades, installing Sidegrades can either be something anybody can do anywhere of something which is regulated by Crafting. However, since they are not intended to affect Player Balance, Sidegrades can be made accessible through Unlocking, e.g. through gaining Achievements.


Sidegrades are variants to Upgrades that do not automatically created Improved Abilities but instead give players a Freedom of Choice. This is since they at the same time give other Decreased Abilities but can allow players Gameplay Mastery in exploiting opportunities to position themselves in useful Competence Areas. Regardless of players' levels of Gameplay Mastery, Sidegrades can allow them to have Varied Gameplay if they wish.

Increasing Rewards and Sidegrades are conflicting on a definition level since the former assumes objective gameplay advantages while the latter only potentially offers advantages to those players that can make good use of the increased possibilities for specific contexts.


Can Instantiate

Competence Areas, Freedom of Choice, Gameplay Mastery, Varied Gameplay

with Decreased Abilities


Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Unlocking, Weapons

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Increasing Rewards


New pattern created in this wiki.




Brice Clocher, Jonas Jacobsson, Johan Ottosson