Well, that's just my point of view. But it is something that runs my mind after seeing/reading some things that happened lately.
It seems pretty clear (because Stardock has said it and because that was the way it worked with GalCiv2) that the way Stardock does things is publishing a game and then support it with updates (not just fixes) for some time. That's great. But it cannot go forever. No matter how much the company wants to support the game, after some time it will be puting money in the game with very small benefit, as most of the potential public will have bought it.
That's when expansions come into the picture. The customers that are happy, pay again to get more features. Some years ago, having an expansion was astonishing. Now many games have two expansions, and thanks to Internet, even three (like Europa Universalis III).
At the end, what we have is a business model in which the customer buys a product. Then, if he likes the product, he pays to get more features (the expansion) and this is repeated as long as there is some business.
But maybe it's time to acknowledge it and make more simple. Imagine that instead of buying a game, customers suscribe to this game and its updates. Let's say for the price of a retail game I get one year of updates, which is the normal support lifetime of an average game. During this time, I can download all the updates, install them in my computer and play them as many times as I want. I can even download the game again if I uninstall it, but I can only download updates up to the date when my subscription ended.
If I want more updates, then I subscribe to the game, and I get all the updates/expansions/wathever as long as my subscription is active. This requires a bit of change in the paradigm and mentality, but it's more flexible that the expansion system and better for both the company and the customer. The game could be improved for years, as long as there were enough subscribed players to it, and the company would not be forced to invent more and more expansions that sometimes are difficult to market. Instead of it, a continuous subscription system would be marketed.
For the normal retail customer it would be the same as now. The game when it's published and a few updates. For the subscription customer it would be a continuously expanding game, which would be alive as long as customers had interest in it. And once subscriptions lowered to a certain level, the game would be declared "finished".