MMOs That Badly Need Expansions

Vulmane

Not even a wolf riding a wolf makes me want to play Vanguard again

I’m a big believer in expansions for MMOs. Whilst free patch content is always nice and more than welcome, I accept that it has its limitations and that we can’t expect to get bundles of new stuff – new classes, races, game mechanics, locations and level cap increase – for frees (well, not unless you play EVE anyway). Perhaps most importantly though, expansions also help re-ignite MMOs, gaining positive attention and drawing in new players, helping them grow. There’s a reason why games like Everquest and Everquest 2 have survived for so long and kept me personally interested for years. I also wholeheartedly think that it the continuous and reliable release of solid expansions that stopped EQ2 from slipping off the face of the planet. But that’s another blog post.

World of Warcraft

Over seven years old and with only three expansions under its belt, Mists of Pandaria can’t come soon enough, in my opinion. Sure, most of us hate the idea of playable Pandas but I’ll take that over playable nothing any day of the week. Why the most popular and successful MMO on the planet can’t release more regular content (and no, I don’t include new PvP armour set to be earned by grinding honour in the same old battlegrounds, over and over again, new content) and expansions, I’ll never know. By the time Everquest was the same age as WoW, it had 12 expansions under its belt… and that’s with a vastly smaller income. Begs the question what exactly is Blizzard spending all its money on?

RIFT

Perhaps a little unfair to include RIFT in this round-up as the amount of content Trion has been pumping out since release has been incredible so lets call this more of my own impatient desire rather than anything else. I’d love to see a RIFT expansion, the sooner the better, especially one that expanded their meager race selection and low level starting areas. Likewise, some new souls would be a lot of fun and perfectly in keeping with the game world and design.

Warhammer Online

If anything signals the imminent death of Warhammer Online it has to be the fact that there hasn’t even been a single murmur ofn  aexpansion since its release three and half years ago. And, to be perfectly honest, with the upcoming release of the butchered Wrath of the Ancients standalone game, I doubt we’ll ever see one. Shame really ’cause I think an expansion could’ve really helped WAR out of its slow, spiralling death.

Age of Conan

I must admit, I have a real soft spot for Age of Conan and whilst the Rise of the Godslayer expansion was a lot of fun, it wasn’t enough. AoC had such a great foundation and oozed such wonderful character that I can’t but think if Funcom had managed to follow up with a yearly supply of expansions, we’d be looking at a whole different game now – certainly one that’s a lot more popular.

Star Trek: Online

If there’s anything that would get me to try out STO again it would an expansion involving the Dominion. And a galactic time-warp back to the TNG/DS9 era.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Ah, Vanguard. Remember Vanguard? The game that you think came out in 2001 but actually only came out in 2007? Three years after WoW? It had so much promise but dramatically failed to deliver, effectively sealing the fate of any new grandiose, ambitious, free-form fantasy MMOs forever more. A classic example of shutting down and putting a game on life-support, I always wished SOE would’ve pumped some more cash into the game and continued to push it. Even now an expansion would give me cause to try it out again.

So there you have my thoughts on MMOs that could really do with expansion right about now and, funnily enough, they form a large chunk of the games that are out at the moment. Isn’t that kinda weird? I never understood why so many MMOs, particularly those in the past three or fours years, developed the tendency to cut back and turtle when their player base droped rather than keep pushing through with good content updates and expansion releases. Solid content and the resulting PR and returning player revenue makes it seem like a no brainer to me. It’s a strategy that’s worked wonders for EVE. Perhaps now it’s just too easy to give up, switch to free-to-play and force expensive novelty items down our throats instead?

Maybe I should’ve entitled this article “where did all of the expansions go?”.

-Gordon

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25 Comments

  1. Well, EQ had that many expansions when it was WoW’s current age, but a good chunk of the ones that shipped when they were on the “two expansions a year” plan got shoved out the door way too early and way too broken. That would not be the model I would suggest them emulated.

    That said, I think part of the problem is that their gamble, redoing all of 1-60 as part of Cataclysm, has failed. If they had built a parallel 1-60 experience they probably would have been better off.

    As for the rest of the list, only Rift seems likely to get an expansion. And given all the level 50s I see wandering around, it needs it.

    • Vortal says:

      I actually quite liked the 1-60 remake. Cataclysm did a good job with it.

      • The problem is that WoW killed a lot of the nostalgia factor of the game, something that still keeps EverQuest alive, by taking away the 1-60 zones that many of us knew. So they can be nice zones, and some of them are, but the cost may be too much in the long term because it disconnects users from the roots of the game. Or something.

    • Gordon says:

      I agree that two expansions a year is too unrealistic but one every twelve months seems like a good standard to me. I really liked what Blizzard did with Cataclysm and have no problem with the direction of their expansions – they just need to get them out quicker!

  2. Xintia says:

    A RIFT expansion might get me back into that game on a permanent basis. I loved RIFT when it launched, and I still think that in terms of gameplay and mechanics, it is superior to its bigger budget themepark cousins, WoW and SW:TOR. So this is going to sound silly, but despite Trion’s frantic update pace… I got so bored with RIFT so very quickly. Getting a different set of world event dailies every month or so did not qualify as “content” to me. But between them finally consolidating all the Expert dungeons into a single “tier,” and the new high end zone, they are starting to incorporate things that would get me interested again. Toss a full blown expansion on top of that, and I just might come back to Telara for good.

    • Ferrel says:

      Have you played since Ember Isle released? It is actually a pretty great set of quests, a huge area to play in, and a few new features. The way events work is a lot more dynamic and fun.

      I wouldn’t call it an expansion by most standards but for free it is more than amazing!

    • Gordon says:

      The new RIFT patch is great and I’m enjoying being able to play new alts up to lvl 20 without paying. Likewise, the preset callings are a great idea. I think the game just needs an official expansion now to refresh interest in it.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    I was playing Vanguard today. Dropped in for the 5th Anniversary party and it was a lot of fun. Going to post about it tomorrow if the screenshots came out okay. I spent about an hour just flying around looking at the scenery. Vanguard is just the most beautiful of all the virtual worlds, at least the ones I’ve seen. I can, and do, spend hours just flying or riding around or sailing my boat, taking endless screenshots.

    If all the people who wish there was an MMO like MMOs used to be would stop wringing their hands and go play Vanguard, maybe it would get that expansion. Even without one, it remains very close to the best MMO there’s ever been. Let’s just hope it isn’t close to the best MMO there’s ever going to be.

    • oldschool says:

      There are two types of old school MMOs that people are wringing their hands over.

      One is the EQ model.

      One is the SWG model.

      These two models are radically different. Few old-schoolers are playing VG because EQ is still alive, well, and available any time they want (and the only thing VG has over EQ is graphics).

      SWG is gone, and the type of player that loved that style of the game is not necessarily the type of player who loves EQ/VG. They may play EQ/VG anyway because what they want isn’t available, and that’s where the hand-wringing comes from imo.

    • Gordon says:

      I checked out VG a couple of years ago and was pretty disappointed with it – it hadn’t changed enough since I left. I think it’s really a chicken and egg situation because it’s never going to get more developers working on it until more people play it but then that’s not going to happen until they revamp it somewhat.

  4. Rubel says:

    I would love to see another take on Age of Conan. Since WoW has used their expansions as a chance to rework the game so deeply, it seems that if Funcom had the personnel and focus to do it right, another expansion could really rock that game back to life. Well, maybe The Secret World will manage to include the character and other strong points of Age of Conan while doing its own thing successfully.

    • Gordon says:

      If they added an expansion to Conan that added a ton of lower level content – a new race, maybe a new class, several new locations and lots of new armor etc – then I think it would get a lot of attention again.

  5. Bronte says:

    I have been a “Blizzard takes time because their games are so damn shiny and polished.” But lately, with the reputation changes in BGs, the Diablo 3 delays and axe to several features “in light of sticking to the deadline”, as well as years spent on a title we know little beyond “a casual MMO codenamed ‘Titan’”, I am getting a little tired myself. Sure they can claim that they release major content patches between expansions, but those too are few and far in between.

    Just look at how many expansions Eve has release since launch, roughly the same time ago (give a year).

    • Gordon says:

      I admire Blizzard’s ‘quality over speed’ but it is just getting a bit ridiculous now and no doubt WoW is suffering as a result. If they were able to produce content faster, I doubt they would have any drop in their sub rate.

  6. Vortal says:

    Personally I think that WoW expansions have been somewhat bigger than that of other including EQ. I read about it somewhere but sorta forgot where “that” was; EQ expansions could sometimes be given in one of the larger patches of WoW because of how much smaller in comparison to Wows expansions it was.

    I agree with you on pretty much everything else, I haven’t played any of the other games, so I’ll take your word for it.

  7. Tim Dean says:

    An STO expansion that included playable Romulans, three-way galactic conquest (some PvP, some could be via completing PvE missions with sectors) would tempt me to commit more (i.e. some) time to it.

  8. Cyndre says:

    “and that’s with a vastly smaller income. Begs the question what exactly is Blizzard spending all its money on?”

    Money Hats, obviously… even the janitor wears a money hat.

    ~Cyndre

  9. Quin says:

    I guess the only trouble is, if a game starts a free-fall of sub losses for whatever reason, won’t the rising cost of subscription only accelerate this?

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