DLC Versus Expansions and F2P

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.

It has to be a trade-off. Putting your dev time into a discrete for-pay expansion takes resources away from the game for an extended period of time. This causes the game to be stale and shed a lot more user base than a game that has constant updates. Now the question is, will an expansion bring back as many as, or more than you lost over time, compared to the content updates model. With compound interest.

I guess the TLDR version is that DLC seems too much to me like playing not to lose. (prevent defense for mmo's?) IMO that strategy hasn't worked in any field it has been applied in.

fangblackbone wrote:

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.

They've got teams working on longer term stuff that could possibly become an expansion, but they're still in a wait & see mode in regards to how the Living Story content performs.

Stengah wrote:
fangblackbone wrote:

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.

They've got teams working on longer term stuff that could possibly become an expansion, but they're still in a wait & see mode in regards to how the Living Story content performs.

I keep going back to the start of Asherons Call who had monthly updates which were dependent on the previous months outcomes of what the players did. I've yet to see a game come close to that level of player involvement that would affect change on the game world. EQN is promising this btw. DLC and updates (when it comes to MMOs) have seem to me as a poor subsitute for that. The scale of GW2's Living Story content just isnt large enough to be inticing. If this is due to a lack of resources or vision isnt clear to me.

Conversely, the effect of monthly or quarterly updates is to keep current players interested and playing. So regular updates are a cost of doing business (keeping your base), DLC and F2P are about creating a cash flow from those regular players, and expansions offer an opportunity to reset the game and head off in other directions, potentially bringing in new players.

Seems reasonable to me. Each has it's own purpose.

For me, cosmetic DLC is an excellent way to support a developer you like. XP boosters and the like, I'm not so fond of, so I don't buy them (I will use them if I get them via gameplay and feel I need them). So I think F2P has been a great way to fund games in a way that players like AS LONG AS it's not used in Zynga fashion, with psychological manipulation that takes advantage of people to extract serious cash from the whales.

POE does this very well, as does LOTRO. GW2 and STO and WoT are tolerable for me, but they do have some elements that could be considered abusive (for example, no volume discount on real money conversions, which is annoying when you're willing to invest $50 or $100 into a game.) Zynga and the like, I don't even deal with.

I'm much happier buying anything from POE, because I know that they don't sell advantages that matter in the game. And because it's a free game, I find it a good way to reward them when they release a cool upgrade or addition. The others, it's cash extraction and I limit myself to extra bank slots or maybe a really cool toy. I buy less when I think I'm being pushed, and I buy nothing when I see I'm being coerced.

PVZ2 was a very pleasant surprise to me. I expected that to try to hoover money, but it's actually quite restrained.

They've got plenty of planned future content like fighting the other dragons, opening up the Tengu wall, revisiting Elona/Cantha, but I think they've started small with the Living Story on purpose to see how players react. If they like what they seen so far I'd expect to see some more Southsun Cove sized updates where they permanently add new maps and enemies types.

Stengah wrote:

They've got plenty of planned future content like fighting the other dragons, opening up the Tengu wall, revisiting Elona/Cantha, but I think they've started small with the Living Story on purpose to see how players react. If they like what they seen so far I'd expect to see some more Southsun Cove sized updates where they permanently add new maps and enemies types.

Right now EQN is the only one talking about and showing anything that came close to the AC model. Maybe the GW2 will grow into that but right now it's just... 'cute'

ranalin wrote:
Stengah wrote:

They've got plenty of planned future content like fighting the other dragons, opening up the Tengu wall, revisiting Elona/Cantha, but I think they've started small with the Living Story on purpose to see how players react. If they like what they seen so far I'd expect to see some more Southsun Cove sized updates where they permanently add new maps and enemies types.

Right now EQN is the only one talking about and showing anything that came close to the AC model. Maybe the GW2 will grow into that but right now it's just... 'cute'

The "Living" part means that the stories & characters intertwine and continue to add to the world, not that it reacts to what the players do. The majority of the Living Story events were never advertised as having on player-determined consequences to the game world, so of course they won't come close to the AC model that was predicated on them. Considering how good a job they've done with the lore of Tyria, I prefer them to be the ones driving the story, not the players.

Stengah wrote:
ranalin wrote:
Stengah wrote:

They've got plenty of planned future content like fighting the other dragons, opening up the Tengu wall, revisiting Elona/Cantha, but I think they've started small with the Living Story on purpose to see how players react. If they like what they seen so far I'd expect to see some more Southsun Cove sized updates where they permanently add new maps and enemies types.

Right now EQN is the only one talking about and showing anything that came close to the AC model. Maybe the GW2 will grow into that but right now it's just... 'cute'

The "Living" part means that the stories & characters intertwine and continue to add to the world, not that it reacts to what the players do. The majority of the Living Story events were never advertised as having on player-determined consequences to the game world, so of course they won't come close to the AC model that was predicated on them. Considering how good a job they've done with the lore of Tyria, I prefer them to be the ones driving the story, not the players.

Yea personal preferences and all. Why i like sandbox style games over themeparks.

I really hope they do follow through with what EQN is promising. Because there is a narrow sweet spot for pacing. Too long and it may as well be developer driven. (all the objectives are completed but the players have to wait for an arbitrary time gate for the next stage to begin) Too short and only a handful of players will feel involved. (the mega round-the-clock guild that takes 3 days to complete goals meant for a month)

The same goes for too simple and too difficult goals with the corresponding outcomes listed above.

CC is going to be huge here because how cheap would you feel the objectives are if a handful of guys can chain stun or mez their way to completion (like one of those defend this area for 15 minutes tasks)