When Guild Wars 2 first launched Arenanet were pushing out updates every month, adding new content to the game in the form of quests, items, and new features. They then pushed this to an update every three weeks.
Soon, they say, they’ll be “pushing to two weeks”.
“We’re doing three weeks currently, but now we’re pushing to two weeks,” lead content designer Mike Zadorojny told GamerZines. “It’s a marathon not a sprint and we’ve been getting better with each of our releases, in terms of how we budget, how we plan it out, how we manage personnel etc. Now we have four full ‘Living World’ teams that are building these content updates, so that we can stagger releases and make sure that [the developers] can decompress and get the quality time necessary to build a good design document before going back in and trying to implement it all over again.”
If they can hit a release schedule that frequent, Zadorojny says that the game becomes “almost like a TV show.” That would put them in a place that few games find themselves, with a captive audience who are returning regularly and will therefore be able to consume content that’s staggered over multiple releases a “kind of stay tuned until next week for the thrilling conclusion of…” sort of thing.
Our Tim thinks that the success of future MMOs will lie in the frequency of content releases and sees that as the main contributing factor for the decline in World of Warcraft’s declining subscriber numbers – Blizzard just aren’t releasing enough content for its players.