Comparing Four MMO Expansions

I originally sat down to write about pre-orders being available for the next EverQuest II expansion, Blood of Luclin.  However, aside from the addition of the Friends & Family option, it isn’t all that different from the last few times I’ve written about EQII pre-orders.  And even the new F&F bit is similar enough to the EverQuest version that I was feeling little dull.  Also, I am sick right now and going through that chart in detail was making my headache worse.  You can check out the details here, but I won’t be going through them with a fine tooth comb.  I’ll probably regret that in a year, but I’ll live.

You can buy it today

Instead I started listing out different aspects of some expansions.

We have a few expansions that have been at least announced.  Minas Morgul just went live for LOTRO, EverQuest and EverQuest II both have expansions in the offing, and at BlizzCon we heard about Shadowlands, the next WoW expansion.  In laying out some details for comparison I don’t have any real key points to highlight, but sometimes just the comparison is enough to make you think about what is going on.

How far in advance did they announce an expansion?

  • WoW – Maybe as much as a year in advance
  • LOTRO – About two months
  • EQ – About three month
  • EQII – About three month

WoW has a tradition of getting a lot of details announced at BlizzCon about nine months ahead of when an expansion will ship.  Way more details than we got for the other three just months before their planned launch.  However, EQ and EQII do yearly expansion, so a year in advance they’d still be patching the current expansion rather than the next.

LOTRO though… I guess SSG just doesn’t like to spill the beans too far ahead.

When were pre-orders available?

  • WoW – Maybe as much as a year in advance… like now for Shadowlands
  • LOTRO – About two months ahead of launch
  • EQ – About a month ahead launch
  • EQII – About a month ahead launch

With SSG and Daybreak, pre-orders seem to be offered pretty close to the official expansion announcement.  With Blizz there used to be a fair gap between the expansion being announced and pre-orders being available, but at this past BlizzCon we saw pre-orders go live coincident with the expansion announcement.

Expansion tiers and pricing

  • WoW – Base $40, Heroic $60, Epic $80
  • LOTRO – Standard $40, Collectors $80, Ultimate $130
  • EQ – Standard $35, Collectors $90, Premium $140, F&F $250
  • EQII – Standard $35, Collectors $90, Premium $140, F&F $250

The new “Friends &  Family” packages are outliers.  But even if we leave those out it does strike me as a bit odd that WoW is not the most expensive in any category save for the base expansion, and there it is tied with LOTRO.

Should the base expansion include a level booster?

  • WoW – No
  • LOTRO – No
  • EQ – No
  • EQII – Yes

I am a bit surprised that EQII is the outlier here with its level 110 boost.  LOTRO offers a level 120 booster with the two higher tier packages, as does WoWEQ though… as I noted previously, it is in a strange place.  It offers a booster with its more expansive packages, but it is still the now more than five years old level 85 boost.  This, for an expansion where the level cap is going from 110 to 115.  My “WTF Daybreak?” opinion of that remains.

Key items from upgraded packages

  • WoW – Mount, pet, cosmetics
  • LOTRO – Mount, pet, cosmetics, titles, various booster potions
  • EQ – Mount, pet, mercenary, cosmetics, house item, bag, various booster potions
  • EQII – Mount, pet, mercenary, cosmetics, cosmetic house item, teleporter to new expansion house item, various booster potions, and an trade skill insta-level boost to 110

I left out the level boost obviously, as it was covered above, and ignore the F&F packs, as they are strange new beasts.

EQII is really the standout in piling things on here, including even a level booster for trade skills, though EQII trade skills have the same level cap as adventure levels, and are earned more like adventure levels than the skill point upgrades in the other crafting systems.

WoW effectively gives you a boost into trade skills since they split trade skills up per expansion with BFA.  But you get that no matter what.

As I have said before, if I were a dedicated EQII player, I could see being very tempted by one of the more expensive packages… relative to EQ especially, which has the same price points… despite the high prices.

Anyway, I thought that comparison was mildly informative.  You can find all the order pages below.  I’d be curious as to how these four games compare to other MMORPG expansion, though I don’t keep a close enough eye on anything else to even know who still sells expansions like this anymore.

5 thoughts on “Comparing Four MMO Expansions

  1. bhagpuss

    To make things even more confusing, EQII these days offers “Packs”, which are very much like the extra perks of the expansion only without the expansion itself. There’s a 15th Anniversary Pack on sale right now that includes a crafting table that works for all tradeskills, a 66-slot backpack, a 100 slot, no-fee Broker crate, a mount, botos with a 15% speed buff that stacks with whatever foot and mounted speed you already have, a time-reducing items for mount training, an extra barding slot for mounts, some xp and vitality potions and a painting for your house.

    That sells for $34.99 and would make for a nice alternate choice to the Collector’s Edition of the expansion if you combined it with the Base version. That would come in at $20 less and arguably be more useful for a more craft-oriented player.

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  2. Kaylriene

    One thing I found (sort of) nice about Shadowlands pricing this time is that the base version finally did away with the $10 price premium Blizzard has tacked to every expansion since WoD. Going back to a $40 base level (even if it is sans level boost) feels like a positive change. I’m still holding out on a pre-order until I hear details about a physical CE – I have a TBC-BfA unbroken streak of those boxes and Blizzard’s handling of a digital preorder and physical CE purchase has been iffy until BfA.

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  3. Shintar

    Since SWTOR just had its own expansion let me add to your data:

    Announced how far in advance? Six months.
    When were pre-orders available? No pre-orders.
    Tiers and pricing? No tiers, as you automatically get access if you’re subscribed for a month when it launches, so $15 I guess.
    Level boost? None this time, though the last two expansions had them.
    Upgraded packages? Not applicable.

    SWTOR expansions do tend to be a bit smaller than “traditional” expansions like the ones you listed, so I guess the lower price makes sense, but I’m still surprised that they don’t even try to sell you anything on top. They did charge for the first two expansions after all, but I guess the “just subscribe” model they introduced a few years ago works out for them when people stop playing but forget to unsub again afterwards… X)

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Asmiroth – Yeah, I looked at FF14 for about 5 minutes and decided I didn’t want to go through the effort of answering all the questions. Same went for ESO.

    @Shintar – I thought about SWTOR as well, but I think a free expansion for subscribers is far enough removed from the paid expansion route that it doesn’t make much sense to try to compare it. EVE Online is in a similar situation.

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