The excitement of getting an expansion

MMO shelfIf you’re following Rift, you may have noticed that they’re handling their second expansion, Plane of Water, differently than they did the previous one or than what other MMO developers are usually doing: Instead of giving you everything at once, they are giving us the expansion piece by piece. The reason they stated is that they don’t want their players to wait until every last thing is done and release all features together, but instead, they want to give us the features when they’re ready. The first part was a new crafting profession, Dream Weaving, together with new dimensions. The profession mainly makes items for your dimensions and it can also craft the keys for the new dimensions. The second part was the PvP dimensions feature which got released with the last patch.

The next part will be the four new souls (something like “skill trees” for the non-Rift players) which we were told would arrive some time in May (but not late May!). I’m excited about that, because it means my warrior will get a healing soul and bookahnerk’s mage will get a tank soul. So, we can be an unconventional healer/tank duo!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is really great to get those features as soon as they are done. I am slowly levelling up Dream Weaving and others are creating their first PvP dimensions. It gives us something to do and I have had those short moments of excitement when logging on after a patch knowing there will be something new in the game. But at the same time, I am not sure I really prefer it over the “traditional expansions”.

I still clearly and fondly remember my very first MMO expansion: World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. Bookahnerk, his cousin, a friend and I drove to a city nearby for a midnight sale that a shop was having. We went out for dinner first, then went to that store. They had us wait in front and at first, I felt a bit silly. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and here we were, in front of a store, at night in cold January 2007, waiting for them to open the doors, so we can buy an expansion and it would be very late until we got back home. The employees of the store actually walked along the line and handed out free hot beverages (coffee at 11pm – smart idea! :p).

While waiting there, we started talking with some people behind us. As is usual, we first checked who played which faction (For the Horde!), then we talked about which servers we played on, which classes were our mains and so on. At some point, I had a look behind us as I had not paid attention to the line and I was shocked: The line that hadn’t looked too long in the beginning had grown huge. I had not been able to see the end of it. All those people were there only for one expansion? After they opened the doors, I think it took us 20 minutes until we finally got to buy our expansions.

After that, we still had about a one hour drive back home. I installed the expansion, downloaded another patch and created my blood elf mage at which point I fell into bed. But to be honest, it had not been about playing in the night. It had been about going there, meeting other players, and doing something with friends. This is something that I miss with the digital expansions only. But while it is a nice memory, this post isn’t about digital or physical expansions. It’s about the lack of an “all at once” expansion (or, in ArenaNet’s case, developers considering not doing an expansion at all).

The next morning, I was ready to get into the expansion. Finally! I did not even know where to start: Blood elf starting area with my mage or should I rather take my main character to the expansion region? Or did I actually want to make a short trip to Alliance side and see what the Draenei were all about? Did I want to check out the new crafting profession? There were so many things I wanted to see and check out! I felt the magic again that I had last experienced when I had first set foot into World of Warcraft. The feeling that I always get when I explore a new MMO for the first time.

And this is the reason why I’m sad that we’re not having this with Rift (and maybe Guild Wars 2 as well). As nice as it is getting expansion content piece by piece and not having to wait, it also takes away this magic moment of feeling like the game is brand new again.


  1. An expansion, a ‘good’ one at least (i.e. one that’s rich in new content and features or feature updates) feels like a brand new game. Or at least it should.
    The path Anet decided to take in regards to how they expand their game, bold and groundbreaking as it may be, it ignores one very, VERY important factor: the psychology of players. Players are like little children: they like new toys to play with. (They like candy too, but that’s besides the point.). Now imagine that toy being one you need to assemble and you’re only given a bag of pieces at a time: today the chassis, tomorrow the wheels, next time the steering wheel, later on the brakes. Surely, when it’s done it’ll be one hell of a great new toy. Until then though it’ll be just nuts and bolts, bits and pieces, always holding they kid/player back from having the most fun they could.


    1. Exactly. I love content updates in MMOs as well, but it’s just not the same. Maybe it’s also comparable to Christmas Eve (or in general the moment you get your presents whenever it tradtionally happens in your family). You’ve been waiting for weeks and then it’s there… all those presents and you don’t know which one to open first. The one from your brother, from your parents, from your grandparents, your friends and so on… :)


  2. I think it is not diferent from what GW2 is doing with the Living Story. The only diference is that GW2 living story is free…


    1. Those are content updates. Content updates are different than an expansion. Rift is doing content updates as well and those are free, too. And the new content (as in new regions, new level cap and so on) in Rift will be free as well.

      But I was referring about the feeling of a real expansion as we have gotten used to with other MMOs in the past, not with content updates – and temporary updates in the case of GW2 as far as the story is concerned. :)


    2. Part of my reply may not make sense. My email showed me a quote that doesn’t exist here in your comment. :p I only just saw that. So if your reply wasn’t referring to Rift, then ignore that part. ;)


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