Patch 5.4: Over before it arrived?

With Blizzcon drawing nigh, there is a lot of excitement and buzz about the unveiling of a new expansion to come. And with the announcement that the new MOBA – formerly Blizzard All-Stars – will be called Heroes of the Storm, which was trademarked in September, there are no actual titles out there…

…taunting us with their “I’ve been trademarked, so I could be the title, but nothing’s official” statuses at this point.

I’m personally having a hard time getting excited about all the speculation. In fact, I’m fighting this feeling inside – the feeling that the current expansion is already done. And I’ve been fighting it for a couple of months now.

Don’t get me wrong: I do certainly think about the next expansion. I’ve variously referred to it as “BC2,” “6.0.Whatever,” and “World of Warcraft: 100” in previous posts that have touched on a smattering of topics that relate to what’s coming in the future. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels like Patch 5.4 came out and was “over with” in a week.

  • August: Blizzcon buzz starts to really pick up steam, along with “when is 5.4 coming?”
  • September 10: Patch 5.4 released. Lots of commentary over the next week or so about Siege of Orgrimmar, Flex, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle…
  • September 17: LFR wing 1 and Heroic SoO released. The race to world first becomes almost secondary to the rapidly-ongoing transition from Timeless Isle and LFR to the next expansion amongst the community.
  • As weeks pass, most of what I read becomes about the next expansion. I’ve never seen a major raid patch swept under the rug as fast as this one…

Obviously, this is just a general impression, not hard numbers. Nonetheless, it’s the impression I’ve gotten.

This contrasts to where I am in-game. In Siege of Orgrimmar, we’re 8/14 and making our typical “march to the end-boss” – and we’ve still only done the first eight bosses in Flex. And so on. At any rate, there’s a lot more raiding to be done before we complete the tier/expansion.

So for me, the story is still going on. We’re going at our own pace. And since we’re less than two months into the patch, it feels like we’re in a fairly normal place.

But it seems like all of that is moot in the big picture. More than with Dragon Soul, and even more than that compared with Icecrown Citadel, it seems like this particular “final raid patch” has happened under the cloud of future content.

I’m not criticizing the community, by the way. Rather, I think that this probably stems from two basic circumstances:

1) The calendar vs. the game. Blizzard released 5.4 two months before Blizzcon – the first Blizzcon in two years, by the way – and the several months before Blizzcon are usually abuzz with speculation about what they’re going to announce, quite understandably. As a result, Blizzard has somewhat drowned their own content by releasing it under the cloud of anticipation about the announcement of more new content – content, by the way, that more people are interested in than what is happening in the game right now.

This is a consequence of pushing content out at this pace after taking forever to release patches/expansions in the past. This year, the calendar has lined up unfavorably for Patch 5.4.

2) More than ever, it seems that people are looking to the next expansion as something of a “make or break” expansion. Fairly or not, since MoP continues the downward trend in subscription numbers since Wrath and has had it’s share of problems, people are looking to the new xpac to cure those ills. If too many problem-aspects of the current game remain, people will leave. If the theme and/or story and/or raids aren’t awesome, people will be disappointed.

There are legitimate problems with the game, and many players are anxious to see how Blizzard is going to fix them. And to look at it from another view, people love the game and are simply excited to see where the story will take them. I am definitely in both of those camps.

Speculation is a natural part of this whole experience, and I am no exception. As I said, this post is not intended as any type of criticism of current community discussion. Speculate on! I know I will, to some extent. However, I can’t help feeling like 5.4 was over before it started – like Mists of Pandaria is already over, already on the back burner in the minds of many – and that feels like a shame to me. Perhaps it’s just the calendar/release schedule, or perhaps it speaks to the flaws in the game and things like the Timeless Isle, but this feels different than it felt in the past for me.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

3 Comments on “Patch 5.4: Over before it arrived?”

  1. Jaeger says:

    You make a good point. Let’s look at the timeline (thanks Wowpedia!)

    Blizzcon 2013 2013-11-08 Two months after final raid tier of MoP and ??? months before new expansion
    5.4.0 2013-09-10 T16 (6 months after T15)
    5.3.0 2013-05-21 Barrens
    5.2.0 2013-03-05 T15 (6 months after T14)
    5.1.0 2012-11-27 Krasarang dailies
    5.0.5 2012-09-11 MoP T14 (almost 10 months after DS)
    5.0.4 2012-08-28 Talent revamp
    4.3.0 2011-11-29 T13 (5 months after T12)
    Blizzcon 2011 2011-10-21 A month before final raid tier of Cata
    4.2.0 2011-06-28 T12 (7 months after T11)
    4.1.0 2011-04-26 Zuls
    4.0.3 2010-12-07 Cata T11
    Blizzcon 2010 2010-10-22 6 weeks before new expansion

    One thing I noticed is that we haven’t actually gotten new raid tiers faster, even though it has somehow seemed that way. I think the inbetween patches have helped a lot and there has been more stuff other than raids (although a serious lack of dungeons…).

    As you mentioned, T16 is definitely poorly timed with Blizzcon 2013. The last two Blizzcons have been just before something big (Cata and DS), but this one is just after something big (SoO). So everyone is looking towards the next expansion since there’s nothing else big coming until then, which makes SoO over before it really got going. Makes sense.

    Also, even if they start beta testing of the new expansion after Blizzcon, it’ll be 6 months before we get it. That will have been 8 months of SoO, which is still close to the 10 months of DS.

    • Mushan says:

      Yep. And that’s what I was thinking – DS dropped in Nov. 2011. ICC dropped Dec. 8th, 2009. Here we are two years later, with about three-months difference between the date of the ‘final raid tier’ and those of the the past two expansions, and it does make a difference. It’s left me feeling that if I’m not all super-excited about “6.0.Whatever” already, I’m behind the curve. I guess I’ll have to be behind the curve.

      Thanks for your awesome comment, Jaeger!

  2. […] Muschan, Etc.: Patch 5.4: Over before it arrived? […]

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