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Tyr-Rant-is: The right of Expansion
Posted on Monday, June 25 2007 @ 06:14:57 PST

I thought I'd make a small rant about the industry today in my blog. Every so often I'll make one of these when I get peeved enough at any particular aspect of a game, be it graphics-over-gameplay (which is like trading a candy bar for a pre-digested version of said candy bar).

Today it's about the abuse of the right to release expansion packs.

Over my time, I've seen game companies abuse expansion packs, to the extent of where you can call them 'uber-patches', instead of expansions. An expansion pack should expand the game as a whole, instead of just adding extra units and missions. You need to broaden the playability of the game significantly.

An example of a company who've abused the expansion pack is the now defunct Westwood Studios. Their expansion packs for the earlier Command & Conquer games added about 5 new units for both sides, some multiplayer maps and a handful of new, disjointed missions. Yeah, that's no longer acceptable. Fortunately Zero Hour, the expansion to Command & Conquer: Generals actually was a very decent expansion pack. Not only did they add plenty of new units, they added the Generals, which each have their own spin on the three standard sides, which broadens the strategies and tactics one can employ dramatically.

On the other end of the spectrum, Relic Entertainment knows how to truly do expansion packs, with their Warhammer 40k Dawn of War expansions. From the original game which had 4 sides, over 2 expansions they've made that amount into 7. What's more, you can use the latest expansion to update the base game, or vice versa, as the latest one has full stand-alone capabilities. If every company released expansions this awesome, the world would be a better place.

Then again, there are those who abuse the expansion pack by not using an expansion pack. I'm talking specifically about those annual sports games releases. Surely, updating the characters, arenas and touching up the graphics a smidgen can be done without re-releasing the entire game, right? Heck, that could even probably be done in a patch.

Whew, that was a long rant. Hope that gets y'all thinking.
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