Oct 24, 2011

Posted by in Blue Milk & Cereal | 31 Comments

Blue Milk & Cereal: How Often Should BioWare Release Expansions For TOR?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Coming off of a week in which the biggest MMO on the block announced their latest expansion, we can all agree that the MMO genre requires a development and update cycle unlike other types of games. Not only are developers constantly streaming bug fixes and other tweaks, they also have to concern themselves with the ongoing addition of new content. It’s customary to have many free content patches, often moving the world storyline forward with each.

But beyond content patches lie total expansions. These large additions to the game generally contain new classes, races and areas to explore, if not a total revamp of key game systems. Generally, as opposed to content patches, expansions are not free and instead usually come with a one-time purchase cost (but not always). Of course, these expansions take a lot of time and resources to develop – as a result the expansions can only come so fast.

BioWare has yet to announce any specific plans the future expansions of TOR, so the only thing we can currently do is guess as to what they might be and how often we might see them. So that leads us to today’s topic – how often do you think expansions for TOR should be released? And when they are, what is the right price for them?

How often should BioWare release full expansions for TOR?

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What's the right price for a total expansion?

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  1. I think that a 12 month cycle of new Expansions is what is expected in MMOs these days. Going any faster would be difficult, given the VO work involved, and going any slower may impact player retention.

    As to price – given the quality that BioWare is known for, and the VO work involved, I think a price range of $40 – $50 for an expansion would not be unexpected. $30 – $40 would be better, but it all depends on what is included, how polished it is, and what the development costs are. VO isn’t cheap – so to me, that’s the big wildcard.

  2. The speed at which they come out and the cost obviously rely a lot on what’s in the expansion. I’d prefer to see an 18 month cycle, both so I don’t feel the need to rush through material that’s already there and so that the expansion doesn’t feel rushed, either. Besides, I’d hope there are enough updates between expansions to keep interest high.

    I’d rather wait a few more months to get a quality product than get something faster that will need to get its polish in follow-up patches and 12 hours down times.

    • I agree with this, 18-24 months.
      As the article said, this is in regards to a full expansion, which typically includes major content, level expansion, etc… and in a game where voice acting and story development were touted factors, I would dare them to produce quality faster.
      Again, this doesn’t include content patches, which should come ever 4-6 months, include a new raid or dungeon or 2, new warzone(maybe a combination of a couple of those every few months between xpacs).
      That said, being that they are going with what could be considered a high end monthly subscription model(I’ll gladly pay it, but with the number of MMOs going to value-add models, makes a double digit monthly fee high), I would hate to see more than 30-35 dollars for an xpac.

  3. These are very difficult poll questions today. I have a hard time choosing when I have no idea what Bioware really has in store for end game as well as how aggressive they are going to patch content. RIFT has a very very aggressive approach to patching new content…making a full expansion less needed(less quickly). Same with price. I am willing to pay $50 depending on the quality and content in the expansions. I am more willing to pay money to continue the story and end game content than I am for just new class stories in the same old zones.

  4. I believe they said at NYC that an expansion is already being worked on.

  5. I would prefer a larger cycle time (18 – 24 months). Currently that’s about the WoW cycle (Cata was released last December, it’s already been almost a year and it’s probably 6 months to a year before World of KungFuCraft hits) of expansions.

    Considering the voiceover work needed, and (I would hope!) the new story involved with leveling each new class, I would prefer that the men and women of Bioware take their time to create equally compelling stories for our leveling.

    However, as pointed out, that increases the frequency they’ll need for incremental updates, up to and including story advances. Maybe there’s a cliffhanger at level 50 that’s resolved in the first major content patch? Be interesting, if so.

  6. As I type this, I’m barely coherent to myself so bear with me.
    I think that with an MMO like TOR, that the expansion releases should be fairly flexible at around 12-14 months. But after launch, with the massive undertaking that TOR is as an mmo, that the first expansion wait at least 18 before release. That is, unless everything is damn near perfect at launch, and even then with all the voice actor that would be required for one, the turnaround should definitely start slow.

  7. Come to think of it, what will TOR expansions look like?

    In theory the expansions could be relatively small, in the sense that they open up three or four new planets, or perhaps a sector. Rather than being some kind of cataclysm (see what I did there?) they could be new war fronts. If they’re really clever, they’ll also include some new content for low level characters instead of making everything exclusive to the highest level characters. Perhaps even introduce new starting zones.

    They’ve got an entire galaxy at war to play with. It’s not like there’s much risk of running out of room.

    • Why introduce new content for new players? They havent seen the content yet so its all new. I would rather they focused on end game, story, combat..etc. I would rather be so into my main toon, that i wont want to roll an alt.

      • I think you’re forgetting that Bioware is trying to encourage players to re-roll to experience the other stories. I’m sure that they will create alternative story paths for new species/classes. I pulled this Daniel Erickson quote from one of his posts:
        “In the future I can see a day where we would do a Trandoshan or Wookiee type story but it would have to be just that. Not a simple graphic swap where now your smuggler is a giant lizard man and nobody notices but a full class story where you learn what it means to be this strange alien and deal with the rest of the galaxy and their reactions.”

        wouldn’t it make sense for a Mon Calamari to start playing on Mon Calamari? In short… I wouldn’t be surprised if they add early level planets, modify original quest chains for new species and to be frank I like a mixture of expanded story from original quest chains and brand new stories. I think the later would take less time than you would expect.

  8. The longer the wait between expansions, which I am fine with if it means better quality content – and may be necessary due to the Story and the VO work, the more the expansions are likely to cost, I would think. But that seems fine to me. As long as we get BioWare quality work, great Story with the excellent LA VO and, of course, some quality update patches in the meantime to keep us satiated until the expansion launches.

  9. Well i Tiped 18Months becouse it’s a good timespan and we don’t know how Big exactly the Content is :) it’s hard to say without played beta until Raid and PvP ending.

  10. imo, i dont think there should be a formula for new expansions, i think it should be a fluid thing. sometimes new content is super fun and i wanna play it longer, sometimes it sucks and developers need to cut their losses and give new stuff.

    i like expansions that are large so we can play them for a long time and enjoy them before new content is let out.

    but i’m no businessman or developer. that’s just my opinion :)

  11. MMathiesen says:

    20-30$…
    Really? Come on people!
    All you want in expansions is stuff like new mounts?
    20-30$ expansions could be released every 6 months, it would be more of some kind of DLC for that money.

    • Bielduwyn says:

      Given that we’re already paying $15/month on the game, I feel that it’d be nothing short of exploitative if Bioware were to charge the price of a full game for an expansion pack if we’ve already bought a full game and have been supplying them with a steady flow of income for (probably) a year when the expansion pack hits.

      So unless it literally doubles the amount of content available I don’t see why we should pay the price of a full game for an expansion.

      • MMathiesen says:

        Well since the most of the votes went to a release time of every 12 months, giving 20-30$ seems stupid, and like wishful tinking.
        20-30$ and below, call it a DLC
        30-40$ and above, call it an expansion.

  12. I think this first one should for sure be 18 months as we are just getting our hands on the game. I agree with other posters and say over one year, but maybe not quite 18 months. As for cost I can see the regular edition as being 40-50 bucks and any CE expansion about 80-90. I wouldn’t pay 150 like collectors are now for the CE especially for what it has in it.

  13. It all depends a great deal on what’s offered. Realistically, 2 years is a solid development cycle for an expansion, and $40 is a reasonable price.

    If you’re voting “12 months” you must want either really small expansions, or have no idea what’s required to create a good one (especially with full VO). Or, you’re just a hopeful optimist and to hell with reality. :P

  14. I said 24 months because the longer Bioware has to work on the expansion the better it will be as for the price I said $40-$50 because almost all the time their games are worth the price… I’m running through Mass Effect 2 again getting my Shepard character ready for Mass Effect 3 and running through all the DLC missions because I didn’t have them the first time. If Bioware is already working on and Expansion for SW:TOR then what I hope they do is add a few new planets as well as two new classes (One for each Faction). I can wait as long as it takes for an expansion however because I am planing on running through every class twice, once for each advanced class.

    Now as for the content that might come with the expansion, My guild has been hoping for the Guild Capital ships and Space PvP encounters. I would like to see that as well but also being able to jump into a fighter and not just using your own starship.

  15. ScytheNoire says:

    I sometimes wonder if Ask A Jedi polls are actually being done for the benefit of BioWare to get audience feedback. :)

    • I can say, for a fact, they are not. Or ARE they?

      No no, of course not, i kid i kid. Or DO i?

      :P

      • I can say, with absolute zero certainty of being right, that they definitely don’t not read the website on occasions befitting either a generous or small amount of attention, nor do they positively only read any website solely for the purposes (or non-purpose) of incurring feedback on a few/some/most/all of their non-decisions, decisions, and minor daily mundane tasks.

        Short answer: I do hope they read these, at least on a non-regular basis. :)

        • I can neither confirm nor deny anything i may or may not have read while visiting or not visiting this site. In addition, I cannot say that this information I have just typed is or is not accurate. Nor can i attest to the certainty or existence of this or any other statement.

  16. Ideally I’d like to see 12 to 18 months between big expansions. Though I should say I’d like to see smaller scale content offered ‘free’ of charge (Not really free if I am paying 15 a month) every 3 to 6 months. I am hoping to see steady and continual quality of life updates as much as possible. QoL updates meaning bug fixes stream lining UI, adding more features for guilds and so on. QoL updates are so often back burnered for new content updates and I think it’s a mistake overall. It’s amazing how little things can add up to drive you nuts or impact you in a positive way on how you feel about a game.

    • I totally agree with this with regards to patches. Bioware seems to have hinted that this is their plan, time will tell. I am interested to see if Bioware is as proactive and aggressive in their patches as RIFT has been. I will be very very impressed if they approach patches in the same way Trion Worlds has.

  17. I dont really like full expansions… but every 18 to 24 months is a pretty good rate I think.

  18. Wow, I am shocked that every 12 months is in the lead. Makes me wonder if people voting have played mmos before and players aren’t familiar with content patches.

  19. I voted every 12 months because I have considerable faith in Bioware’s ability to be proactive. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started planning the expansion at the same time as the original game, writing the expansion at the beginning of this year, and started developing the environments in August.

    I vote 20-30… but what I’m really hoping for is a base price of $40-50. The reason I voted low was mostly out of fear that they wouldn’t lower the original game price (which at the launch of the first expansion should be dropped to $25 or lower).

    • They said that the first expansion is already underway right now and we still have a bit less then two months for the game to actual release to the general public. If BW will keep this up I think 12-18 month releases could easily be doable.

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