The Long Road to Draenor

Back in September, a few of us returning to World of Warcraft felt like returning home to the comfortable, familiar game we had enjoyed for so long.  It was a happy time and we were happy to be back.  Happy. Happy. Happy.

A little later, after the BlizzCon announcement for Warlords of Draenor, the full instance group jumped back in to the game and picked up where it left off with the main group, way back at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, where we left off back before Cataclysm.  That was back in late 2009.

Victory over King Ymiron

At the throne of King Ymiron

And it was good.  And it remains good.

The instance group has moved along at a leisurely pace, knowing full well that we had to get to at least summer on Cataclysm and Pandaria content.  Not because we thought we might see WoD during the summer… I, rather optimistically in hindsight, figured September would be the drop date for the expansion based on some vague napkin math… but because we tend to go on hiatus during the summer as travel and other real life events take over.

Outside of instance nights, we have all been busy little beavers.  We have been leveling up alts, collecting mounts, going after achievements, running old content, getting the guild up to level 25 (finally there!), and generally immersing ourselves in Azeroth.  Fun, fun!

Or fun for a while.

Now more than six months back, with the guild taken care of, three level 90s at my disposal, having run all the level 90 LFR content at least once, and being exalted with all but two factions in Pandaria, I am starting to feel sympathy for those who really had their hearts set on a much earlier release for WoD.

My enthusiasm for logging in to work on yet another set of dailies or to get another mount towards my goal of 150 (I am at 132) has begun to wane some.

I still log in daily.  I tend my farm at Sunsong Ranch, though mostly for items I can sell at the auction house in order to build up my gold account.  I am working on a couple of low level alts, including a Panda monk with full heirlooms, just to see how ridiculously fast I get levels in a given play session.   He leveled three times doing Shadowfang Keep at one point.

But the fires have faded some.  I have joined the ranks of those who are starting to feel that Azeroth might need a little something to carry us through to the expansion at the end of the rainbow.

That feeling was enhanced this week with the Noblegarden holiday, for which I got all the achievements back in 2009.  I do not have the mount that was added in 2012, but I am not sure I can bring myself to run the holiday events even for that.  We’ll see.  And then next week is Children’s Week, the one holiday event keeping me from the holiday meta achievement because I refuse to do the battleground achievements.  Clearly some bitterness on my part there, and certainly not something that is going to raise my enthusiasm for WoW at the moment.

On top of that, we had what was effectively a narrowing of the gap as to when WoD will ship.

Previously Blizzard had said “Fall 2014,” conspicuously pointing out that “Fall” lasts until December 20th.  But the optimists in the crowd could at least console themselves with the thought that Fall stars in late September, so WoD wouldn’t necessarily have to be a “week before Christmas” launch.

Well, Blizzard has rained on those hopes, at least in my opinion, with the announcement of the dates for BlizzCon.

BlizzCon2014

BlizzCon will be November 7th and 8th of this year.  And, as Liore pointed out the other day, you really have to be a cross your fingers and toes optimist to think that Blizzard is going to launch their big expansion of the season BEFORE BlizzCon.  Who would let their thunder roar before the big convention?

It seems likely that we’ll get the pre-WoD patch before BlizzCon, which will give some people plenty to chew on as they work through the changes in order to be ready for expansion to drop.  But that is still likely to be out in October at the earliest, and that still leaves us with the window for actual new content somewhere between November 7th and December 20th.

Which is probably going to leave a fair number of people in the odd position of having purchased Warlords of Draenor in advance, yet considering unsubscribing until it actually launches.    How strange is that?

I suspect that, unless Blizzard has something up their sleeve, it is going to be a long summer of declining subscriptions.

That whole Azeroth Choppers thing… that isn’t going to be enough.

 

14 thoughts on “The Long Road to Draenor

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Hemvar – I realize you’re making a joke here (you are, right?) because Blizzard steals everything. But if I recall right, Draenor was the Orc home planet even back in the original Warcraft, from which they invade Azeroth. So they might have stolen Draenor, but it wasn’t ffrom RuneScape.

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  2. wowstorylines

    I’m still plodding along, leveling alts and getting my plethora of 90s up to speed with everything – I haven’t had time to get bored with it yet, however, I do see the warning signs of it hitting later in the Summer when I have other things to do in RL.

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  3. bhagpuss

    Sounds like good news for Carbine, who certainly seem keen to make the most of what’s now looking like a particularly well-judged launch window. I am as certain as I can be (which is less than 100%) that I never completed a WildStar beta application but they still sent me an invite yesterday, just in time for the extra weekend they slotted in. Whether that suggests diligence or panic I can’t quite decide.

    Of course when WoD finally appears enough time will have passed for the jumpers to have become disillusioned with the color of the grass on the WildStar side of the fence and be eying up the grass back where they used to be and thinking how very lush and green it’s looking.

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  4. R

    Check the AH for that holiday mount, it’s BoE and I’ve seen it surprisingly cheap at times. Might be worth just buying since you’re collecting mounts.

    I don’t think it’s weird at all that people would have pre-ordered but may let their subscriptions lapse until the game comes out. I suspect hundreds of thousands or millions of players have historically done exactly that (or at least intended to order when they didn’t offer pre-orders). Playing an MMO doesn’t necessarily imply that you have to always be subscribed.

    I haven’t seen a ton of reaction to the timing of Blizzcon but I’m seeing only two possible scenarios that I think are likely. First, the optimistic one, that Blizzard is confident enough that they’ll hit a Sept timeframe and that it’s going to be a home run of an expansion that they want to get their biggest fans into one place and have a big ol’ love-in for 2 days a month or two after it releases once the shine has come off a bit and people aren’t rushing to level cap or get a toon geared up to raid.

    Second, the pessimistic one, where they aren’t even sure they can hit the Dec 20 timeframe, have done the math and believe that it’s better for them to have a Blizzcon and endure 2 days of non-stop shouting about WoD not being out yet rather than allowing interest to simply wane even further. Basically, Blizzcon as PR for Blizzard and therapy for attendees.

    I think the former is more likely of the two (the latter would involve a bit more masochism than I think even Blizzard would want to have to stickhandle through) but I don’t see a release at or around Blizzcon being likely… most of the folks spending significant amount of time prepping for Blizzcon aren’t the ones who are determining when the game comes out but if the game released shortly before Blizzcon then people would have to choose between playing and attending (Blizz wouldn’t want to put them in that position), planning to release it at Blizzcon would be risky as hell and hoping to release it shortly afterward isn’t much better than scenario 2 above, you’re still in a situation where people very invested in the brand are congregated when the primary game everyone will be talking about isn’t actually out yet, even if they’ve released a date.

    We’ll see, though!

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Yes, if Carbine or SOE or some other dev can get a nice little MMO option out in front of the soon-to-be-officially-bored crowd of WoW players, it could go well for them. I wouldn’t mind giving Landmark another go once they hit open beta, and WildStar certainly seems primed to benefit.

    @R – I cannot come up with a past MMO precedent where people have paid the full-boat price for an expansion, gotten some initial benefits, and then had been expected to wait potentially 9 months before they got any actual content from the expansion with they own.

    LOTRO has done the first two bits a number of times, but that long long wait… that might be something new. And while MMOs don’t necessarily expect you to be subscribed at all times, “I bought the expansion then unsubscribed before it came out” might be a new situation for some people this summer. I’ve certainly never been in that situation. Generally if I am keen enough to pre-purchase the expansion, I an keen enough to stay subscribed until it goes live.

    As for BlizzCon, there is a certain amount of “You take the venue when it is available.” I am not suggesting they picked the BlizzCon date based on any sort of release time table. But it is hard to come up with a plausible “best case scenario” out of the situation. Betting on Blizzard doing anything earlier than expected has historically been a bad move.

    We shall see as the whole spectacle unfolds this fall.

    But first, the long summer drought.

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  6. zaphod6502

    @Wilhelm
    Your WoW group should definitely try WildStar when it is released. It is a very good MMO both in terms of play mechanics and humor.

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @zaphod6502 – While I won’t say, “Never,” I haven’t seen anything so far about WildStar that has made me enthusiastic for the title. If somebody else in the Saturday night group was dying to play, I’d go. But I haven’t heard a peep about it from anybody.

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  8. zaphod6502

    @Wilhelm
    Well it is a really fun MMO. I am sure your kid(s) will love it. I can see this as a great MMO to play together with friends and family. Love the player housing and they have even made the crafting interesting. I have some 7 day guest passes as part of my pack so when the game is released I will throw one your way. I will contact you then. :)

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Felt I had to remove a series of comments polluting this thread as the author felt he was entitled to the final word on things on my blog, literally telling me to stop commenting. Given that his comments were nothing beyond elitist “LFR is shit,” they will not be missed.

    There were other things I would rather discuss about the expansion Blizzard situation beyond one person’s opinion about LFR.

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  10. R

    @WA

    I hear what you’re saying but Blizzard is a market leader, what others do isn’t particularly important in the big picture.

    Besides, who among us doesn’t have a backlog of games that we’ve bought for various reasons but haven’t played yet? I have enough games to last me a couple of years… games I paid for and got NOTHING out of immediately except perhaps saving some money if it was on sale and even then, chances are it’d be on sale a year or two later for even more. Blizzard offered the instant 90 with pre-orders and wanted us to have those 90s in our hands… the alternative, based on actual pricing, would have been NOT to introduce the pre-order and instead just sell the instants for $60, more than the expansion price… of the two, isn’t the pre-release for $5 including the boost the better thing for them to offer 9 months before game release? Also, look at it from the perspective of a new player… they can buy up to MoP and buy the pre-order to have a max-level toon to play around on. There’s more than a nil market for that.

    (I’m willing to accept that those aren’t the only two possible things they could have done but based on what they did decide to do, I expect those were the two BEST options for them and they picked the better option by any measure)

    Also, not to re-open the deleted thread wound and I went into this a bit more in a response on his blog but I think you’re both right in that argument, you’re just not talking about the same thing. You’re right, doing LFR means you’ve done the raid content… but he’s right, doing LFR doesn’t mean you’ve raided by any traditional definition. If your only goal was to see the instance, you’re done. I think he was just trying to encourage you to step up to flex, which is actual legitimate raiding at the same general difficulty as Wrath-era normal raiding, if you’re looking for something more to do.

    Bringing this over to my sphere, I’ve PvPed very occasionally over the years, most notably for the legendary questline in MoP… I’ve done it, I think, on 5 toons for the questline. It’s fair to say that I’ve won PvP matches in MoP but I’d never claim that I’ve actually PvPed… I was just there when it happened and it’s not like I was being carried, it was mostly just disorganized chaos that my side occasionally won.

    Which I think is a decent description of LFR… disorganized chaos that occasionally ends up in a positive result. Raiding, true raiding, is an organized group of dedicated players (dedicated in that they want to be there and want to succeed and, more often than that, want to excel personally) who work together to overcome difficult challenges and who are held accountable if they don’t. LFR… isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with LFR, it’s there for the audience it’s intended for, but it’s intended more for the usually-does-5-mans crowd, not the raiding crowd, and most of the complaints you see about LFR are from raiders who are running it and are wanting/expecting the same experience. That’s not how it works, though. Blizzard themselves went into more detail on how LFR was originally SUPPOSED to fill the low-end raiding void but didn’t for many reasons, all of which I agree with fully. Maybe I’m an elitist too but I really don’t think so, I’ll jump in on a flex run anytime someone asks… but LFR is a different beastie altogether, that’s something that requires amounts of patience and alcohol that I’m not often up for.

    (mind you, I haven’t seen his original comments here so I’m working off very partial info… feel free to delete any or all of this with no offense taken)

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  11. Xyd

    You may (or may not) have noticed that I suspended my WoW account. Again. Warlords of Draenor is just too far off for the existing WoW to keep my attention. I played religiously for a solid 10 days and I started to pre-order several times — actually re-enabled my account explicitly to do so — and never did end up placing the order. If my interest gets piqued I will venture forth without the pre-order goodies I reckon.

    I’ll keep watching out for something to happen, though, and the frequency of my son requesting an introduction to WoW has increased to more than once a week. We fired up World of Tanks on Xbox last night and that’ll pacify him for a couple weeks, but it may be a long summer of waiting!

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  12. zaphod6502

    @R
    I would argue 5-man requires a lot more coordination than LFR. I personally don’t mind LFR. It allows me to see content that I otherwise would not see without an organised guild. The determination mechanic also allows completion of the instance even with poor raid groups. I also used LFR to learn how to play my mistweaver monk.

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