Monday, September 14, 2015

Echoes of Orgrimmar: content gaps in Warcraft

With the announcement of the new expansion, Blizzard has basically slammed the door on Warlords of Draenor.  I don't know if that's a fair assessment or not, but that is certainly the way it feels to me right now.  I've been waiting for some further communication from the snowstorm that would give me any indication that they've got something further planned, but at this point they have taken every opportunity to shut that option down.

At first, there were some statements that seemed to leave the door open for more development on Draenor.  For example, our hero Ion Hazzicostas declaimed that while there were definitely no further raids planned on Draenor, he did sort of mumble that they weren't entirely done.  But when Cory came afterward, he again seemed to quash the whole idea.  The WoW team was definitely moving on and any further work on Draenor would only delay the ready date for Legion.  Nope, Draenor was out the door and we are looking on to the next show.

On the other hand,  Ion and his fellow lead designer types have also repeatedly assured us that the Siege gap of 14 months was too long.  They have learned their lesson, they earnestly profess, and it's never going to get that bad again.  But let's examine that claim.

If the beta for Legion will be out before the end of the year, that suggests to me around December.  Blizzcon attendees will fly home with shiny beta keys in their goody bags, and a few weeks to prepare for a December 15 beta server.  If we follow customary pathways, the Legion beta will be 6 months long, putting us at June 15, 2016.  I'm going to add a month for the promised pre-expansion activities and expect to see Legion in July.

This means two things:  First, that will very nearly be an entire year between patch 6.2 and the next expansion.  This is the thing they sincerely claimed they didn't want to do. Content droughts are bad for players, but not necessarily bad for game companies if they get all their players back at the release of the new expansion.

 Second, while the "year between content" goal won't be achieved, they will have made good on their intention to release expansions faster than every 2 years.  That tentative July date is at the 17-18 month mark, and they will have shaved 6 months off their delivery cycle.  A faster expansion cycle is good for game companies, because the pulse of expansion purchases flows into their accounts more quickly.  It isn't necessarily good for players, because it requires more cash and doesn't guarantee any more content.  Blizzard is showing that they are perfectly capable of creating 12 month content gaps, even in a 18-month expansion cycle.

I have a gut feeling in another direction, however.  My hope is that Blizzard still has an ace up it's sleeve and has already finished a final activity zone that they are going to release in January.                                                                                      

2 comments:

  1. "Content droughts are bad for players"?

    What players are you talking about? You know, I am tired of blog writers lumping everyone into the same fold. You mean for raiders or folks who go into dungeons?

    That's not me.

    However there are tons of places and things I have not found or seen that a year or so is really not long enough. heck I am still finding things in Outlands. :)

    -roo

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  2. It's a very good point that not all players are the same, and each person plays at their own pace and with their own style. Each player has a different point at which they reach the drought stage. Whether that is a shorter or longer time, doesn't really change the fact that when the available content is used up, the player is likely to find the game less fun if they continue to play.

    The longer the game goes on without any new content being introduced, the more players there are that will slip into that drought condition. We saw what that looked like with the Siege of Orgrimmar patch. That's not to say that everyone had exhausted all content. I think it's great that you have found a good pace for playing this game, so that it continues to inspire and entertain you.

    Also, thank you for taking the time to comment.

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