07/02/2015

SWTOR Probably Won't Have 2 Expansions This Year

This shouldn't really be news, but the latest episode of OotiniCast touched on this subject briefly, and I thought that it might be worth putting down in writing as well.

Last week Redna from OotiniCast brought attention to this question on Twitter:
It was a good one. Why have people been talking about two supposedly upcoming expansions?

The answer is that Dulfy reported "two more game expansions before end of the year" on January 24th as part of her PAX South Cantina Tour coverage, and at the time of writing this, that line is still up on her site. It didn't necessarily seem like a crazy thing to claim, considering that we had two expansions each in 2013 and 2014.

The problem is that Bioware stated only two months earlier that they currently didn't have any plans for another GSF- or a GSH-like expansion. Plans can change of course, but even if they had suddenly come up with an idea the very next day it's unlikely that they would've already done enough work on this new expansion for them to want to talk about its upcoming release two months later.

Since they also stated at that same press event that they were going to double down on their storytelling, could it be that they are working on two storytelling expansions instead? Not likely. Both previous story expansions included a level cap increase, and trying to raise the level cap three times within little more than a year (it was only just raised by Shadow of Revan) would likely spell complete mayhem.

Even if they were to change things up and release an expansion without a level cap increase, it's unlikely that they'd be able to do so within the stated time frame of a single year. More than 13 months passed between the release of the game and its first expansion, and about 19 months passed between the release of Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan. Even if Bioware were to speed things up considerably due to not working on a GSF- or GSH-like expansion on the side, I just can't see them cranking out enough new story content for an expansion every six months.

In the producer's letter that was read at the PAX South Cantina event (which can handily also be found on OotiniCast here) there was talk of "two major updates", which someone could easily have misunderstood to mean expansions, even though that's not what it says. However, you have to consider that Bioware loves to call things expansions that other games might consider too small to be worthy of that name (I actually struggled with the semantics myself back when GSF came out, though I've gotten used to it since then). When even they talk about "updates" instead of expansions, then these patches are going to be just that: updates. My guess is that a "major" update would be something the size of patch 2.3 or 2.4, which included a new planet as well as new pieces of group content or something similarly meaty.

The thing to keep in mind with Dulfy's (or anyone's really) Cantina reports is that very often the news poster hasn't actually been to the event themselves, but is instead relaying information that has been provided to them by tipsters that have attended. Maybe Dulfy misunderstood some piece of information that was sent to her, or maybe the tipster himself got it wrong. Note that the info about the slot machines which they provided and which was posted on the same page was also amended and they even posted on the forums to apologise for accidentally having misrepresented what Bioware said.

This doesn't mean that Dulfy is a bad site or that Baa’nariim of The Harbinger is a bad person. But it does mean that we shouldn't take everything we read on news sites as gospel, especially when it comes to Cantina Events, as it's way too easy for announcements that are made in a noisy room to be misheard or for snippets of casual conversation to get misinterpreted or twisted to mean something else. This can happen even when people are reporting about first hand experiences and try their best to relay things truthfully. I seem to recall Mcsluethburg cringing when his report about the Vancouver Community Cantina in May 2014 got linked under headlines such as "Star Wars: The Old Republic housing will not disappoint, devs promise", which was a wonderful example of a quote being taken out of context. I also remember Gaddock Teeg's report of him talking to Bruce MacLean during the NYC Cantina morphing into "Bruce MacLean spilling secrets while drunk" when people discussed it later, even though that's not what was actually said.

Basically, it's best to take everything that's reported about a Community Cantina event with a grain of salt unless you can get confirmation from other sources as well. Bioware gets enough crap about their communication as it is, so we don't really need to make up additional things they supposedly promised and which we can then complain about later. (And at this point I fully expect some people to go "Where are the two expansions you promised us, Bioware?!" later in the year, just you wait...)

7 comments :

  1. I'd argue that the (mini) class quest additions as well as Shadow of Revan ought to count as two major updates.

    That said, I wonder if they're going to do some more fleshing out of the stuff that's already there, and I don't mean stuff you can merely buy in the Cartel Market: an additional race, additional interaction between toons on your legacy, etc.

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    1. Hm, not sure what you're trying to say here... an expansion could also be described as a major update, but a major update isn't automatically an expansion. SoR was quite clearly labelled as an expansion. (Maybe I'm just tired.)

      I would definitely hope that they'll use this year to work on various bits and pieces that haven't received much attention in a while. I'm OK with not getting an expansion while they do that.

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    2. How do quests that are part of SoR count as a second update in addition to SoR? Or did I miss some class quests getting introduced in addition to the one per base class in SoR?

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    3. Well, doesn't matter now. Bruce just posted a big update, and it looks like there are two major updates coming this year:

      http://www.swtor.com/info/news/article/20150209?sf36160511=1

      The biggest highlight is that Togrutas will be a playable race, so I guessed that one right. Also there will be a nod to those who like to craft outfits with the Outfit Designer. And a new Stronghold.

      So, I was right about the "fleshing out stuff" part. But it really sounds more like either class or class related storylines coming this year.

      As for what I was thinking originally, it was more about semantics, whether the class-based story counted as a bonus to the SoR expac.

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    4. Yeah the road map has some good stuff if you are pve (which I am). I'm sure that the outfit designer will be like transmog for wow, or at least I hope so because otherwise I cannot see it working without requiring pulling mods (boo stupid credit sinks). I am looking forward both to how they involve our classes in upcoming content, Ziost (in general, just to see it and explore), and the continued story line (only toon i've played through is my jugg and I feel like it would be hard to top that class quest).

      Still to the question of bonus? Not IMO. Something billed as part of the expac and required to complete to progress through the expac doesn't count as bonus to me. There's no separation there. It's a high point yes, but it's not extra (again IMO). Had they not announced it before hand and patched it on post release, then I'd call it a bonus regardless of how it was accessed. The xp buff for preorder, definite bonus and something I hope makes a return when I'm in a mood to actually make use of it (want to replay through jk storyline and jugg, this time as ds).

      I enjoy your comments on this blog, so don't mind me.

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    5. Sorry for double post. Realized I left out some words. Looking forward to seeing how they integrate our class story into the upcoming story. Also jugg is the only toon I've completed the SoR storyline on. Got about 10 50-53's who I cannot summon the motivation to level to 55 for SoR's intro flashpoints.

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  2. I was so surprised by your title! Huh, two expansions...?

    I think I'm immune to gossip (I'm not sure if that's a good thing, I might be missing out on a lot of information): I usually just wait and see what comes on the swtor road. Not having any expectations makes every new thing a nice surprise.

    I generally like the pace in which Bioware introduces new things to the game, also small things like events and quality of life improvements. It feels like there's always something going on. Okay, maybe not "always", but it's such an improvement from a certain other MMO I used to play. :)

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