2020’s been a rough year all around, and even game developers who are still delivering content in a timely manner are having issues making everything come together. Grinding Gear Games has been trucking along nicely enough on Path of Exile this year, producing the usual three expansions, with another planned for December. It hasn’t been a totally smooth ride, however, and some changes are afoot, as Chris Wilson announced today.
Despite living in a country that’s handled the pandemic well, various pressures have come together to make development of the last few PoE expansions a challenging affair. Wilson noted that the speed of development has varied based on whether easy tasks became harder than anticipated or difficult tasks wound up easier than initially judged. This has resulted in expansions being well-received based on a “clear pattern of times when development took less (or more) time than expected.”
Heist, in particular, seems to have had more adjustments and patches than usual, leading to “a serious internal discussion about how we could restructure our development process so that subsequent expansions are less risky.” The studio has decided that December’s 3.13 update will have a “very specific scope,” containing “everything that a large Path of Exile expansion needs, but no more.” Wilson is personally taking over production of the expansion, hoping to limit feature creep and produce a tighter, more focused player experience, “getting the most important changes done, and doing them well.”
The expansion itself will focus on the Atlas of Worlds, will require about half the development time of Heist, and will be announced “in a slightly different way” than usual. Wilson hopes that the new, limited focus will help keep the company on its 13-week cycle for new content, which he feels is “best for the continued growth and long-term health of Path of Exile in the period before Path of Exile 2 is released.”