This is very true and a good point. Buying Heart of Thorns doesn't just get you expansion content on launch but also is an insurance for content access down the road.
My concern primarily stems from the quality of the content and not its quantity, though. I could attach X amount of dollar for Y amount of content hours and be suited with that, but this logic breaks down when you consider that certain games are a more enjoyable experience than others. I can pick up Mass Effect 1 for five dollars, burn through it in eight to ten hours. and have a fabulous time with it. I could also buy a deck of cards and have limitless hours of "content" available to me. I'm still going to have more fun playing a video game than I will a card game, so I'll always opt for the video game even if it ends up costing me more money down the road.
The concern with the expansion shouldn't be about its price or even what the content is being offered with it, but the quality of the content that's being included. Stronghold, in all due respect to ArenaNet, is a complete ♥♥♥♥ing mess. It's just not done. And let's be realistic here ... they've only created one good PvP map for Conquest since the game came out: Temple. They have spent years balancing and rebalancing the game only to continue to fail to find a happy medium between condition and power builds, between bunker and burst builds. They let the Celestial meta crumble build diversity over the past year and let turrets---a low skill floor build---dominate matchmaking play during a reward-based month-long tournament. They've tweaked, retweaked, and tweaked again their matchmaking algorithm and leaderboard systems, and they have resulted in only creating less accurate, more volatile, and less entertaining match-ups. They eliminated solo queue entirely, shoved Skyhammer into the unranked map rotation, and still haven't given Courtyard its own queue despite constant requests by the PvP community.
And it's not like the PvE really fared all that much better over the past few years. I mean yes, we've gotten a lot of updates, but these are just shaky paint jobs over rusted foundations. The Living Story Season 1 had its share of good content, but it also had a lot of bad. We accepted this because it was free, but then ArenaNet started charging incoming players for Season 2 content, and is now pay-walling future content in the form of the expansion.
They simply haven't got the track record to have my trust that PvP will ever become a competitive space, or that PvE will ever challenge me as a player, and they've shown so little of the expansion on top it to disprove my concerns. They've had three years to do it, and they've gotten no where in anything: PvE, PvP, or WvW. People are still grinding CoF for gold and still voting en masse for Legacy of the Foefire over anything else they've added since launch; if that doesn't explain the quality of post-launch content in Guild Wars 2 I don't know what does.
Guild Wars 2 also doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it's important to establish that there are other MMOs that will exist and future RPGs down the road in general. Crowfall and Star Citizen continue to march along in their development, and FFXIV continues to churn out new content on a regular basis that is actually turning heads.
And so I am finding myself at an impasse: do I take a leap of faith and pay $50 for an expansion that might as well be a metal bucket on a sinking ship? Or should I count my blessings that I had as much fun as I did in this game, as long as I did, and made all the friends I did, and move on to greener pastures?
Like everyone else I am in wait-and-see mode, but ArenaNet's vow of silence on what constitutes "challenging group content" leaves me unconvinced that they'll ever get their ducks in a row. If they had something to show, they would have shown it already--just as they did with Stronghold.