Expansions Are Fun

So I’m a week into Storm Legion now and it got me thinking, what exactly is it about an expansion that tickles my feathers.  I really like having to learn something new.  This obviously precludes the argument of something NEW to do.  I can assure you that simply extending the content without some new mechanic doesn’t interest me in the least.  Horse Armor is not an expansion.

WoW’s expansions have typically added some new mechanic to the game.  Heroic dungeons came in BC, Lich King added phasing but changed grouping mechanics, Cataclysm added zero to the game and Pandaria added pet battles.  From a class perspective, I’ve played a Rogue in that game since launch.  I’ve see only minor changes for the most part, with a couple large swings along the road – such as the introduction of Mutilate.  Still, from Lich King to Pandaria, the Rogue has been practically identical.  That’s over 5 years ago and the playstyle has been more or less identical – all the expansions have essentially added more of the same.

I haven’t actively played EvE for any stretch of time but a few of the expansions over the years, the largest certainly the transfer of NPC stations to player-owned.  EQ and EQ2 have added plenty of mechanics over the years – mercenaries and AA top the list somewhat here.

Rift is 18 months old and 1 expansion in.  Classes were practically re-written from top to bottom a few weeks back to the point where my ability to play a given soul is technically different while being strategically the same.  My Shaman still uses melee attacks to deal damage but it much more thought based now then the previous macro-heavy build.  They also added the Alternate Advancement feature a few patches back, which gives a horizontal progress to top level players.  The new “no tagging” combat model allows for less griefing but perhaps more bad sport (simply hit once and run away).  I’ve yet to run any new dungeon or heroic raid but from what I can tell, they are under the same model as previous – if perhaps less reliance on resists.  Dimensions are certainly new and wow, I’m having fun there.

Expansions should feel different but familiar.  They shouldn’t just be-reskins of previous content.  The only way that sort of stuff works is in PvP games, where the content is delivered by the players.  PvE games need horizontal progress to feel different and give people something to do.  If you’re simply re-hashing what’s been done, then you’re in for a rough ride.

Dinosaurs on the Dancefloor

Dancing Dinosaurs

A must-read if I do say so, Wired interviews Peter Moore.

When you take an industry vet and put them in the task of predicting the future, you’re never sure what you’re going to get.  Moore is an interesting gent though, seemingly always on the cusp of pushing something new forward.  He’s the primary reason for EA opting out of Steam and setting up Origin (a profit generator, if not the most efficient path) and has quite the interesting view of the market as whole.  Of note.

It’s going to be a while before we can say, alright, here’s a 15-gig client for free. Although we’re getting there with Star Wars, which is the first change, although that’s an MMO world in which we can micro-transact.
I still think we still have 18 million people who are very willing to buy our FIFA game each iteration, and then I don’t even know what the pass through rate of that game is from used game sales. Ultimately, we don’t get to play in any of that revenue. But I could ultimately put my hand out and say 25 million people right now have experienced FIFA 12. Without a shadow of a doubt.

No disrespect to Zynga, but you don’t want to be so focused on Facebook that you don’t see mobile coming. All of a sudden you’re one platform, you’re so reliant on one company.

“I just didn’t want to pay $15 a month. I felt kind of locked in. I love the game, but I’m locked in,” and for a lot of people 15 bucks a month is a lot of money. So when we looked at the data that was streaming out of it…. It was very clear to us that if we could knock down that initial barrier to entry that is price, that we could blow out the funnel and instead of dealing with several hundred thousand people on a regular basis we could get into millions.

If I said to you for $15 a month you have access to most of that which EA has created over its history and everything that’s new coming in, like a Netflix model coming in, I believe a lot of people would pay for that for 15 bucks.

Quite a few nuggets in that interview.  F2P isn’t a simple switch.  TOR folks left because they didn’t think it was worth 15$ a month (not that 15$ was too much, but that it didn’t justify the cost), an EA streaming service is an option and of course, taking a massive dig at Zynga’s inability to play the big game.

It’s a rare thing to get an honest interview from EA about anything.  Moore somehow manages to hold the corporate line while giving a solid opinion.