EQOA Original was released Feb 11, 2003. The lone expansion, Frontiers, was released November 17 of the same year, just 9 months in between. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to the lack of content in the game, but let’s put it in perspective of the game’s competitors.
November 23, 2004 was the original release date of World of Warcraft. Over 2 years later, on January 16, 2007, Burning Crusade came out. Then, 1.5 years later, Nov. 13, 2008, WotLK and finally 2 years later on December 7, 2010, Cataclysm is released. In other words, the shortest time between all 3 expansions was just 1.5 years!
Did SOE blow the load on EQOA’s only expansion too soon? Maybe, maybe not. I think they acknowledged their chances against WoW and knew if they released later, it might be wasted resources.
EQOA’s main platform competitor, FFXI, released March 24, 2004. As with WoW, I can imagine SOE looked at this as a huge threat to losing subscribers. Hence, each month SOE waited passed Frontiers’ ready date (October-November 2003) would most likely result in lost revenue.
It’s estimated that after the WoW/FFXI releases, EQOA’s population dropped from 25-30k subscribers to 10-15k. Roughly a 50% drop in subscription revenue, or ~150-200k dollars of revenue a month!
I think that while releasing Frontiers later would have made it more enjoyable, longer. SOE had to push the release at just 9 months into the game’s life in order to squeeze the most profit out of it before competitors FFXI and, more importantly, WoW essentially captured the entire market. EQOA, though incredibly enjoyable, stood little to no chance at competing with these newer games. This is further shown in SOE’s lack of interest in a 3rd expansion.