Expansion Pack VS Sequels: Are They One and the Same?comments powered by Disqus
Posted on Sunday, April 18 2010 @ 14:17:56 Eastern
Whenever a great game came out and you played it for hours and hours on end, you and your friends would hope the developer would make a sequel to your favorite game. After all, who didn't want a sequel to Super Smash Bros. Melee or Resident Evil 4 where they could get more of what they love plus a ton of fun new extras? Then there are expansion packs that add more content to the current game, usually for a low price. These are not 100% necessary to get in order to get the most out of your game and they are quite convenient since they integrate themselves to the game that requires them and you can play it from there.
Nowadays, people expect a lot more for less and this has translated to the video game industry. Lots of gamers want better gameplay, longer hours of play time, bigger online, better graphics, and a lot more while not wanting to pay a lot for it. $50 has been the standard in price for buying a video game in the past several years, but as technology advances and grows more expensive to produce in, the added costs has to come from somewhere. Sequels, expansion packs, and DLCs (downloadable content) have been the bread and butter of most video game companies to generate revenue and our constant buying of their products support them.
However, many of today’s gamers are quite picky and cynical and will refuse to get a game at full price if they feel it doesn’t have enough to justify their purchase. This has transformed into a situation where people who think a sequel to a video game is nothing more than an expansion pack if the game is just more of the same with some new shiny objects to play with. For example, Left 4 Dead 2 has been dubbed as the $50 expansion pack due to people’s anger with Valve backing out on their word on giving the first game updated content. Yet, Left 4 Dead 2 changes so many things that I am left scratching my head wondering how it is an expansion pack. After all, it has the core part of what made Left 4 Dead fun plus lots of new stuff like more guns, zombies, a connected storyline, an improved AI Director, and a vastly different level design that keep things interesting and varied. People always say that the new stuff could have easily been in L4D1, but the new zombies and some of the new guns just wouldn’t play out too well due to how most of the levels were narrow hallways or having spots where survivors could hold out in one spot and the infected could only rush in from one or two directions.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is another video game sequel that is being labeled as a lazy expansion pack game. Unlike Left 4 Dead 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has not been released and the only info we have are screenshots and trailers. So far, you do seem to be hopping from galaxy to galaxy as before, along with collecting those stars (because it is always stars). The new stuff we’ve seen is the inclusion of Yoshi and giving him powers like Mario, Mario getting new stuff like the ability to drill into the ground, and bigger and nastier enemies to stomp on. We don’t know what the story is yet, nor do we know if Rosalina will even make an appearance. It's quite unfair to be calling Super Mario Galaxy 2 an expansion pack so soon before release and it's the same as calling Final Fantasy VII being samey as Final Fantasy VI because the core concept of both games are reused. Using things that worked the first time doesn't always mean it's a lazy attempt.
It has gotten to the point where the meaning expansion pack is starting to lose meaning like the word hardcore. To be technical about it, an expansion pack has to require a game in order for it to work or it merges with said required game in order to use the content. To say a game that adds little is nothing more than an expansion pack is absurd. A game doesn’t have to change a lot in order to be a sequel and franchises like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and Grand Theft Auto proved just that. Just remember, having more of the same plus extras doesn’t always equal to an expansion pack type game.