How important are frequent content updates to your enjoyment of an MMORPG?
During the first few years that I was playing MMORPGs I became used to a certain tempo for content patches and expansions. World of Warcraft players could expect a major expansion roughly every two years. Inbetween there were smaller content patch every 3-6 months. I remember regularly watching for news on the next patch, getting excited for new quest lines and new instances.
Other MMOs have kept a similar development rhythm, for example LOTRO (although Turbine releases an expansion every year with 2011 being the one exception). Everquest 2 has also had yearly expansions but fewer content updates outside of those.
But this defacto pattern of semi-regular chunks of content has been challenged by a couple of games in more recent years. Trion started the rebellion with the launch of Rift. This game had a new content patch every 4-6 weeks for its first year, most of which were focused around a time-limited event separate from the leveling content. More recently again we have Guild Wars 2 with the Living Story deluge every two weeks, again this is content that stands apart from the ‘main game’.
More content is always good though, right? Towards the end of my first subscription period in Rift I was certainly feeling event-exhaustion from the endless series of monthly events. Each event came with a new set of dailies and a new currency to grind. Having a new event every month left me with no time to play the wider game, however. There are different types of players not just in the types of activities they prefer (pvp, exploration, raiding) but also in the pace of gaming they enjoy most. I game to relax. Being hit constantly by a fire-hose of content is overwhelming.
So I’ve found myself retreating recently into more traditional MMOs, not just out of nostalgia but because I don’t have that feeling of being rushed and overwhelmed by achievement lists or token grinds. I’m enjoying playing LOTRO partially because Turbine aren’t trying to set some world-record beating tempo of content delivery. There are traditional ‘time of year’ festivals as distractions from leveling but they’re all established, annual events so I can safely ignore them if I’d rather be focusing on character progression.