So forgive me for going on a soapbox here but the recent announcement of the D3 expansion has got me thinking.
DLC or Living Story or Update X.0 only serves to keep from losing current subscribers/players while a true discrete expansion is the only option to increase the current userbase and bring back prior subscribers/players. So I can't help but look back at struggling or failed mmo's and wonder if they had packaged content as a paid expansion, they would have faired better.
I know the D3 isn't an mmo nor is it F2P. But since seemingly every mmo is going the route of DLC or "content updates", to me it becomes the glaring counterpoint that exposes the weakness of DLC. Not only is the new expansion going to bring back old players, but just the rumors and reveal is already bring back players that monster power, numerous inferno population and difficulty tweaks and paragon levels could not.
Some of it may be Blizzard's wizardry, but I think the core of it is not. I think the core is psychological. I think that a discrete expansion triggers a new marked direction for the game and even if several content updates may do as much or more than a discrete expansion, the perception of that change isn't as strong because it is rolled out over time.
I also think a discrete expansion also works psychologically on the developers. I think they are almost encouraged to strike out in a new direction. Whereas with constant patching, the newness is lost because the creativity is limited by not wanting to break what is currently working.
GW2 is a very successful game but I can't help but wonder if the living story, while exceptionally cool, is hurting them in the long run. Or that they could be even more successful and truly a WoW-killer if they went back to GW1's discrete (or even stand-alone) expansions.