Jim Sterling announces that anyone who thinks Left 4 Dead 2 is an expansion pack is a fucking idiot.
Yahtzee announces that Left 4 Dead 2 is “little more than an expansion pack that dreams of the stars”.
Foul-mouthed angry British nerd fight! Foul-mouthed angry British nerd fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!
With the obvious caveat that I played L4D exactly once and may be completely out of my element, the new game sounds like a proper sequel to me. Similar gameplay with new environments, characters, and weapons has been a staple way of progressing franchises that find success and don’t want to monkey with it since time immemorial. Off the top of my head: God of War, Resident Evil, Gears of War, Phoenix Wright, Armored Core, The Sims, and Tomb Raider all have stuck by the formulae that brought them their respective successes without too much complaint from the game-buying public that their ongoing installments were really more like expansion packs than true sequels. I’d honestly be really amused to see a discussion among the gaming community about what constitutes a “real” sequel versus an expansion pack; I suspect you’d see the sort of logical contortions that usually accompany arguments about whether a band is “real” punk rock.
I think Jim’s probably on to something when he says that gamers have been spoiled by Valve and their way of doing things. Up to this point, they’ve tended to eschew yearly punchings of their franchises’ udders in favor of long development times tided over (especially in the case of TF2) with relatively frequent free content updates. If the original Left 4 Dead had been published by Microsoft, Activision, or EA nobody would have batted an eye when a sequel came out a year later, and frankly I think they’d have been pretty shocked at how much seems to have been added.
Certainly nobody would be saying “You owe us all of the work you’ve done this year – for free – as thanks for the server load we’ve inflicted on you.” I’m a bit of a Valve fan, I’ll admit it; I like the games they make. I think they deserve more for their hard work than a double standard.