WoW devs reveal difference between expansions and patches - and what makes the cut

WoW devs reveal difference between expansions and patches - and what makes the cut
Images courtesy of Blizzard

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes


8th Mar 2023 16:00

World of Warcraft's next big patch, 10.1, brings new story content to the MMO in the form of Embers of Neltharion.

As each WoW patch grows more ambitious, however, it's only fair to wonder how the game's updates are separated between major patches and full, retail expansions like Dragonflight.

The answer, as we found out in a dev interview, often comes down to themes and giving players a glimpse at story beats ahead of time.

WoW Dragonflight devs reveal why Embers of Neltharion is a patch, not an expansion

So, what makes it into a patch, and what gets held for major expansions?

"Our exploration of that question will be answered with our 10.0.7 content update that's dropping March 21st where there is an opportunity to look at that as a foreshadowing of the events to come", Morgan Day, Associate Game Director for World of Warcraft tells us.

"We really felt like with a patch like a 10.0.7, which really haven't done so much in the past, what philosophically can we achieve there that will feel really good and really make the player feel like they have a strong understanding of the story’s progression and where we're going in the next update?

"We're definitely still kind of experimenting with that philosophically, especially as we have this new content philosophy that we've been rolling out so far that the players have been able to see," Day adds, and points to how the team is working to be more transparent with updates before they arrive.

"Content 10.0.7 isn’t even in players' hands and we’re talking about 10.1, Embers of Neltharion. It's really exciting to get that content into players' hands and really learn from the community about what types of content they wanna see in these updates. We're definitely taking that feedback to heart, definitely listening and earning as we go."

"We definitely want to get reactions and hear what people think of all of this stuff because that does inform our decisions going forward," Steve Danuser, World of Warcraft's Narrative Director, adds.

"Part of how we approach these things too is when we're looking at these content updates, we talk about what things thematically tie together; how do we combine both new types of features? Things like the additions to the dragon riding system, for example, were very much informed by the setting.

"We always try to look at it that way as well as what makes the best overall cohesive group of features and content that work together to help tell a story of one of these content updates."

For more on World of Warcraft Dragonflight 10.1, Embers of Neltharion, be sure to check out more of our interview with Steve Douser about the narrative themes of the update, as well as our hub for everything included.

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