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Devil's Daily: Expanding Outwards

03. July, 2013Tags: Guild Wars 2, News

Guild Wars 2 might never have an expansion, and that's a shame. The odd thing is, I can't really explain why it's a shame.

I can see the obvious downsides - the lack of another big launch, even less paid content, not "huge" world-wide changes - but all of these things are, I suppose, possible with the current Living World mode of updating. So why is there a problem?

Because expansions are the way things have always been added to games, and that isn't the case any more.

Expanding Outwards

I've never been a fan of expansion packs. Those that love them cite the huge content additions to Half-Life, Starcraft and World of Warcraft as reasons why the DLC model is broken and has ruined everything ever for everybody. I don't remember those packs, not all that well. Instead, my mind goes to Black and White: Creature Isle and The Sims Bustin' Out. They were not expansions worthy of their price tag.

But that's not what people remember. They remember the top 10% of everything, and many of the best expansion packs have been for MMO games, for World of Warcraft no less.

So for a major MMO to announce that they're doing away with expansion packs altogether is unheard of and alien. That they're replacing it with bi-weekly updates, with content that seems to be getting very mixed reaction, is a brave move on ArenaNet's part, a move that might just pay off for them. Afterall, that's an awful lot of content for somebody who has paid a single fee to get into the game.

It Might Just Work...

You have to be there to see the updates, and they're likely to change within a fortnight of going live, but that does create a sense that you're part of a living, breathing world, and that does make me want to log-in more often. More than that, more time spent in the game is pretty likely to transfer to more cash spent. 

So, all in all, ArenaNet will almost definitely end up making more, per person, from this venture than they ever might have done from releasing an expansion pack. If that turns out to be the case, and I rather suspect it must be, else they wouldn't be so keen on the whole idea, they've done something for MMO games - specifically MMO games that aren't World of Warcraft - that's about as innovative an idea as there is.

Sure, other MMOs do content updates, and some of them do regular content updates, but many of them also release expansion packs or have specificly large updates every so often. Guild Wars 2 has done away with all that. It's just about crazy enough to work.

Final Thought

DLC is hugely successful, and it's here to stay. Despite a few naysayyers attacking the practise every chance they get, they are a minority. I don't buy DLC, and I don't begrudge people that do.

But I will play free content updates. I will spend more time in your game if you give me reason to do so. From there, you have my attention. You can show me neat items that'll change the way i play. You can show me advertisements, you can do what you want. The important thing is that you hold my attention. 

Change isn't bad, new ways for developers to monetize their game aren't inherently bad. I feel some people might be disappointed by this announcement. Don't be. Now, all we know is that this has the potential to be the thing that propels Guild Wars 2 ever upwards, or a huge mistake (in which case you'll get your expansion).

What do you think?

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