How Long Should a Content Patch Last

Tobold is a fixture on my RSS feed.  Sure, he feeds the trolls as much as anything but when you’re posting nearly twice a day, you can’t bat 100.  (Quick aside, his D&D posts I find the most interesting).  A recent post about hitting a milestone in WoW got me thinking.  He’s done everything required to get a flying mount to work in WoD, then realized the actual function won’t be available until a later patch.

For those in the dark, WoW disabled all flying in WoD but left the door open for a later option. Then closed that door a few weeks ago.  Then opened it again, with what is basically an attunement step.  The basic gist of that attunement is that you have to complete most of the solo-player achievements (exploration, reputation, treasures, etc…)  Given the complete lack of any material for solo-players since launch, I would think that nearly everyone playing today had 90% of that done, with the exception of the 6.2 Tanaan Jungle content.  That patch came out last week and required a reputation “grind” and a couple rare bosses to kill.  Well, Tobold did all of that in about a week and aside from a toe-dip into LFR, he’s never really been a fan of raiding.  So, more or less he’s completed the major milestones for the patch.  In a week.

I think even he would agree that he took that content at an accelerated pace, acting as a sort of content locust.  At the same time, you have to wonder what’s going on at Blizzard when people have “finished” months of work in a week.  Is there some sort of formula the devs use when making new content?  Some sort of line in the sand that says “this should take them at least 3 weeks to get through”?  I may not like artificial gating but I can sure as hell understand it from a dev perspective.  Daily/weekly caps, reputation grinds, drop rates & RNG… they all prolong content artificially but they also have the side effect of keeping the population active.  Which is sort of important in an MMO, no?

I’m not so much against quickly run content, there are plenty of games that offer DLC that lasts about 2 hours.  MMOs feel like they deserve more though, or at least a bit more thought.  I’d like to think Wildstar’s patches were well thought out, with content that was group and solo-based, with artificial gates around them (usually a form of reputation).  FF14 is certainly the shining example here, with classes and housing included in patches, at at a decent pace too.  SWTOR isn’t too far behind either.  Then there’s EvE, the content king.

I guess it’s a good thing that there are so many MMO options out there.  Not only can you find one that fits your basic tastes but likely in the case of a tie, you can pick the dev that provides content at an appreciable pace/length to boot.

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