Blizzard would like to make World of Warcraft expansion packs more quickly, and is considering making smaller expansions in order to release them more often, designers Greg Street and Dave Kosak have revealed.
Blizzard has so far released an expansion pack every two years, but an 18-month schedule is "certainly a goal, we would like to get expansions out very quickly because we know players respond to them very well," lead systems designer Street told Eurogamer in an interview marking the launch of third expansion Cataclysm.
Earlier in the game's life, Blizzard said it aimed to publish an expansion every year, but "we're not anywhere close to that now," Street admitted.
However, slimming the content and feature sets of WOW expansions in order to release them much more frequently is under consideration, said game designer Kosak. "It would be a different idea of an expansion, it wouldn't be these giant lumps of content... if we did expansions every year. But we do think about it."
It's even being considered for the game's next expansion, Street revealed. "We kind of talk about it in two directions, if it's a quick expansion what we would put in, and and if it's the full-blown Cataclysm style, what the feature set would be," he said.
The concept for the fourth expansion is "pretty close to locked in", Street said. "We have a direction now but that's not to say that this is the one true path that we'll eventually deliver on." Kosak added that "the team is very excited".
Although Blizzard has led players to expect a monolithic expansion every two years, Street reckons they would be happy to get new content more often. "We can't generate content fast enough for a lot of our players... If we delivered on expansions more often, I think players would love that."
But quality remains the developer's primary concern. "It always comes down to the quality level, we're not willing to cut too many features or sacrifice quality to be able to come out quickly," he said. And he worries that Blizzard's famously slow development pace might prevail anyway.
"The risk is that we try to come out with a leaner expansion more often and we end up cutting features or making it shorter and then still taking two years. That would be... we can't do that."
Head over to the interview> for the designers' thoughts on Star Wars: The Old Republic, the community's response to the changes in Cataclysm, the ultimate battle with Deathwing and more.