Daily Archives: September 15, 2015

EverQuest and EverQuest II Plan New Expansions

Holly “The Hero” Windstalker was out with a new EverQuest II Producer’s Letter which announced that this fall EverQuest II would not be getting some DLC, or an adventure pack, or a campaign, or a campansion (whatever that entails), but an actual, old fashioned expansion.

The Adventure Packs

Remember Adventure Packs?

Though the decision seemed to be one of degrees rather than a hard barrier.

Our next expansion release is right around the corner! Yes, you heard me right – expansion! The team has been churning away and when we looked at the amount of content we created, we decided to call our next release an expansion rather than a campaign…

Enough content to call it an expansion isn’t perhaps the most solid endorsement ever, but it is something.

Color me pleased.  I am one of those people who thinks that DLC or content packs or live updates or what not are just fine, but an expansion is an event, a point in time that changes things, where there is only a before and after.  Or some such.  Syp had the bullet points for that.

Back in April I was declaring the circle complete.  SOE started off back in the day with adventure packs then dropped that to go back to the tried and true EverQuest style expansions.  Then, back in April, during the Daybreak post-acquisition hangover phase, it was announced that there would be no more expansions, that something akin to adventure packs, starting with the Rum Cellar, would be the new way of things, with a promise that the overall content over the course of the year would be about equal to an expansion.

Now though the circle is… um… re-complete?  We’re chasing our tails or running in circles on indulging in non-Euclidean geometric progression?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Also, is this expansion Cthulhu themed?

Further details on the expansion are promised for October 1st, which I assume will include a launch date and, perhaps more interesting to me, a price.  Expansions are worth more, so they will charge more no doubt.  But will there be a digital collector’s edition to skim off money from the faithful?  The last report I recall was that half of those who purchased the current Altar of Malice expansion went for the deluxe package.

And, as these things have gone in the past, buying the new, as yet unnamed expansion will also get you all previous expansions, including the Rum Cellar.  I told you that was a thing.  It is also something of a discouraging factor for the 50% off sale for Altar of Malice and Rum Cellar that they are running through the end of the month.  I can get all that for free with the next expansion… but for how much?  At least there is the option to buy it with Station Daybreak Cash as well.

Meanwhile, there was also an EverQuest Producer’s Letter and hey, guess what, it has the same news!  An expansion will be coming our way this fall.

We are excited to announce we have an expansion on the way – that’s right, expansion – not “campaign.”  As we’ve been toiling away this year, the content we’ve been working on evolved and grew more than we expected.

And, as with EQII, details to come on October 1st.

This sounds less like a coincidence or “whoops, we made too much content!” and more like a plan to keep Norrath viable and making money with the expansion cycle we have come to expect over the years.  What does this say for DLC, campaigns, or campansions?  And what about the other games in the Daybreak portfolio?

Anyway, Norrath keeps on rolling.  Expansions for everybody!

A Diablo for All Seasons

Like a few other people in the neighborhood, I have been dabbling again with Diablo III.

I will reiterate what I believe I have said elsewhere, that the re-itemized, post-auction house Diablo III has really shaped up into a very nice game.  The base game was always beautiful, with a world that set a mood and shook or came apart in the face of your wrath, so shaping up the loose ends made it into a winner.  That opinion led me to pick up the Reaper of Souls expansion back around Christmas when it was half off.

Diablo_III_Reaper_of_Souls

It has just been a matter of there always being a couple of games ahead of Diablo III on my list of things to do that has kept me from playing it.  However, as summer has drawn to a close it finally bubbled up the list enough for me to start playing.

I rolled up a crusader… because of course I did, the crusader being the new class in the expansions… and started in with the story again.  I hadn’t gotten very far when Gaff pinged me on IM about playing Diablo III.  He got in game with me with a barbarian of about the same level and we ran through most of Act II together this past weekend.

Gaff and I in some dark tunnel

Gaff and I in some dark tunnel

Barbarian and crusader worked pretty well together, though one of the powers of Diablo III as I understand it is that most classes work well together.  It was fun to play with somebody else again and having another player in game notches difficulty and rewards up a bit as well, so all good there.

However, now that character is my “play with Gaff” character, and I don’t want to run away from him in levels.  So when Gaff had to log off I stopped as well.  The ever present problem of keeping in sync and party progression.

I could have brought out one of my older characters… I have a post-2.0 patch barbarian that should be good, though I wonder about the viability of the pre-2.0 characters in my stable… but Gaff was talking about rolling up a season 4 character, which got me pointed at the whole season thing with Diablo III.

I don’t get it.

Yes, I get the whole special rewards things.  I even took a screen shot of the new season splash screen.

Season 4 specials

Season 4 specials

And I get the concept I guess.  I’ve read the update they posted, with the key quote being:

Seasons are an optional, recurring game mode that offers PC players the opportunity to periodically start fresh, leveling new Normal or Hardcore heroes from level 1 without any currency, resources, items, or previously earned Paragon experience.

A way to start really fresh… I guess.  The problems with sharing between characters, you hate to have to re-do some things, right up until you want to re-do those things.  So that and special prizes and leader board for the competitive and such, I get that.

I guess I am struggling with the why, as in why is Blizzard doing this?

Yes, keeping people interested in the game will sell more boxes.  But they have already sold a lot of boxes, to the point that I have to think they’ve hit the state of diminishing returns.

Meanwhile, with no other income… there are no subscriptions and there was no cash shop the last time I looked… for a game that requires you to be online and logged in to play… and that is my one remaining major complaint about Diablo III, that you have to stay logged in and you get kicked (and lose your progress) if you AFK for too long… it feels like promoting this sort of thing actually costs Blizzard more money with not much in the revenue cards.  Maybe box sales are still strong enough to justify this?  I don’t know.

But it is starting to feel like they are treating Diablo III like an MMO.  Sure, it opened with achievements, but lots of games have those, and the disaster of the auction house.  But now there is the whole cosmetic system so you can customize your character to get the look you want along with the whole season thing, things that are obvious hooks to keep people engaged with a game that, given the historical context of Blizzard and their tradition of one expansion for Diablo games, ought to be done, for lack of a better word.

But is it done?

Can we expect another box… another expansion… with more levels, another act, another class, and whatever at some point?  Or will we just be getting a cash shop at some point to fund the ongoing work on the game?  Patch 2.2.0 opened up a cash shop in Asia, complete with pets, cosmetic items, experience boosts, and the like.  Is that in the future for US/EU players?  Or did the taint of the real money auction house taint that idea forever in the west?

Things to watch for at BlizzCon I suppose.

It isn’t that I am unhappy with Blizzard continuing to work on the game.  Far from it.  But that costs money, which means it needs revenue.

Anyway, I made a demon hunter as a season 4 character to play when Gaff isn’t on.  We’ll see how that progresses.