Warlords of Draenor’s release is a long way off

All we see in the near future is Pandaria. Many are disappoint.

All we see in the near future is Pandaria. Many are disappoint.

Hello, everyone.

It’s been a month since I announced on these humble pages that I am taking a break from World of Warcraft.

My time away – an admittedly short one, at this early point – has been good. Things have been busy at work; the new blog has been fun to work on; I’ve gotten plenty of Fable-playing time logged; and I’m just getting started on a virtual stack of books that need reading. Because I had become thoroughly exhausted with the game in the months before my break started, my playing time had been steadily withering, so making the transition from “very little WoW” to “no WoW” has been fairly pain-free.

One thing has not changed throughout all of this: I still love the flippin’ game, and there have been times when I’ve missed it and wished for a moment that I could log in. But I quickly realized that what I’m missing is not the game as it stands today, but rather as it was in the past, and how it will be again later this year. Specifically: expansion time. Leveling time. The time when everything is new again.

As part of my effort to not completely lose touch during these next few months, I’ve determined to read the WoW section of my blog feed once per week, and to periodically check up on the news. Usually, this happens on a Sunday.

This week, I decided to make an exception, because of speculation that the beta – the arrival of which is already late in the minds of many – could be happening. I’m curious about the beta start date, because it has been written about so intensely since Blizzcon, and because it was expected as early as December, then January, then February…

In catching up on last week’s blog posts this past Sunday, I noticed that anticipation for a beta was particularly high. It was this excitement that I remembered as I casually opened up MMO-Champion this morning, and swiftly found myself in a fierce battle to keep the orange juice in my mouth from destroying my keyboard and monitor when I read the following:

Once I had managed to get said orange juice flowing safely in the correct direction, I read on. There was little other information of interest to me, since the level 90 boost has little appeal for me at this point, and I will “only” be purchasing the regular edition of WoD. There was also no mention of a beta launch, which was the information that I came to the site for in the first place.

At any rate, given that the xpac will likely see a fall release, that puts the earliest launch date at September 23rd (if we take “fall release” literally). September 23rd is a hair short of two years since the launch of MoP, while September 30th is just a hair longer. Of course, “fall” is probably an approximation, so it’s possible that if everything goes awesomely in Irvine, CA, we could see a release on the 9th or 16th. However, if we get much later into the fall – October 21st or later, to be specific – Warlords will have both A) taken the longest time-after-previous-expansion to release of any expansion in the game’s history and B) given players the greatest amount of down-time after the previous expansion’s final content patch in the game’s history.

And if we do get into December before it’s released? Well, then we’re talking about what I would already categorize as a giant misstep on the part of Blizzard.

It turns out that I picked a good time to take a significant break from the game. When a company provides fairly regular content updates for a game – some would say they came too fast, and I have to agree with that sentiment – and then gives players little more than a new PvP season in an extended final patch, there is little to keep my interest. Late 2012 and the first three quarters of 2013 consisted of “content content content.” 2014 is doomed to consist of “waiting waiting waiting” for much of the year, until this thing (WoD) happens.

So… what happened? Over the past couple of years, we’ve gotten a lot of talk from Blizz-folk about faster content, and we saw some evidence that that was a priority. Mists arrived chock-full of things to do at 90 – repetitive, grindy-as-hell things, to be sure – and with “move the story forward” patches in between raid patches, there certainly was plenty of content for about a year…

And now we have this Nothing. We’ve been told that there are different teams that work on expansions… so did the Mists team significantly outpace the Warlords team? Did the Warlords team bite off more than it could chew, like they supposedly did when they remade the world for Cataclysm?

Somewhere – dev team to dev team, or Blizzard to players, or whatever – the message went off the path. And I think that, at this point, Blizzard does itself and its players a disservice when it says that it would like to release expansions on a yearly basis, because then players believe that the company – this great company, which has made such a great game and done so many wonderful things – was actually working hard toward making that actually happen. All evidence at this juncture shows that it either is not doing so, or is just wildly failing to make that happen.

I was skeptical at the time, because those comments at and around the time of Blizzcon were comments that many players took and ran with, in spite of Blizzard’s history and lack of actual promise. Those stated best intentions were believed by many to be modus operandi, and they are proving not to be so. I, like everyone else, wanted Blizzard to be what they said they intended to be. I was skeptical, but if they had dropped a beta on December 10th or January 8th, I would have been happy. If they had announced that WoD was arriving on May 20th or June 17th, I would have been happy. I also would have been surprised.

This doesn’t surprise me. At this point in the history of WoW, this has become the norm, and it seems that Blizzard – as much as they purportedly intend to change for the faster – has become entrenched in this two-year cycle.

As such, I believe that they should just stop talking about it. They should just stick with “It’ll be Soon(TM),” and “It’ll be out when it’s finished,” and stop talking up what has become a pipe dream for everyone. I’ll be finished playing WoW for a while before yearly expansions become a thing.

I was skeptical, but that does not mean that I’m not disappointed by this news. What do I want? I want to play through some new content. Of course. I find myself daydreaming about past new-xpac leveling experiences from time to time, and that is what I want to be doing again, sooner than later.

It looks like it will be later.

I’m already mentally extending my break. Originally, I was thinking about taking three months or so. However, with this news – and barring extremely unlikely “let’s get the band (raid team) back together” overtures from my absent friends – four-to-six months or more is looking more likely. There are good things about this: no WoW means more time for other adventures elsewhere, both in and out of gaming worlds. But ultimately, I am disappointed… although I’m glad that Blizzard finally came out and confirmed that my skepticism wasn’t unfounded.

Yes, I could still be playing. But right now, Blizzard has no new product for me. I’m not paying $15 per month to wait for half a year or more. I can do that for free.

* * *

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

7 Comments on “Warlords of Draenor’s release is a long way off”

  1. Jaeger says:

    I never believed any of the statements about annual expansions or faster content releases. They had very little information at Blizzcon and hsve released very little information since then. Everything made it sound like they were far from release, so I always expected a late summer to fall release at the earliest. Looks like the old pattern is still holding true.

    I haven’t unsubbed yet, but I may depending on how much I enjoy ESO.

    • Mushan says:

      Yeah, I didn’t either. A little piece of my heart wanted to believe them, but common sense (and lack of finished features) gave me cause for skepticism. What blows is that it seems that from patch to patch, their desire to move faster seemed to bear fruit, but from xpac to xpac nothing has changed. Thus, a whole lot of nothin’ is going on.

      I’m not playing ESO, although it looks awesome. I’m taking a break from all MMOs for the time being. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. Frankly I find it very questionable business ethics. To charge players a monthly fee– and not provide ANY new content for more than a year is disgraceful. Not to mention selling level 90 characters.

    Blizzard is a complete cash-whore now, just look at how much they are charging for Diablo III’s expansion.

    I really hope they sink like a certain early 20th century ship beginning with ‘T’ and ending in ‘C’ in the intervening time between now and ‘Fall’, or Autumn as I know it; in respect to their products.

    They do it, well, because they can get away with it being the most popular MMO. Why wouldn’t they put the absolute minimum effort and capital in if they can get away with it? People just accept it and others even DEFEND it.

    • Mushan says:

      I don’t share your desire to see Blizzard implode. I just wish that – on this issue – they would truly show some growth: consistently improved turnaround time from patch to patch AND expansion to expansion.

      Regarding the subscription fee, there is (on the most basic level) a choice that players can make. I’ve simply chosen to vote “nay” on this Lack Of New Content by taking my dollars elsewhere for the time being. I’ve made the opposite choice in similar situations in the past, but I’ve gotten some value from doing so at those times. This combination of “especially long Nothing” and “where I am in my life” means that I currently value taking a break more than I value paying to hang around.

      Perhaps, if too many people make similar choices, Blizzard will have to respond (in future expac development planning, etc.). However, with so many people jumping in to get their free 90 and deluxe edition mount, that probably won’t happen; it’s The Power Of Marketing…

      I’m disappointed, but nowhere disappointed enough that I want one of my favorite games ever (and indeed, its developer) to fail. I’ll just hang onto my sub money until I feel like going back, refreshed.

  3. […] Mushan, Etc.: Warlords of Draenor’s release is a long way off […]

  4. Laeleiweyn says:

    You always* say what I’m thinking, in a much better way than I could ever write it myself. :) I can name 8 people in my small guild that will take a break until next expansion. The real number is probably doubled. It’s sad times I think. :'( And it’s never been quite like this before, for us…

    *Probably not -always-, but I like to exaggerate.

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