Nearly eight years after launching World of Warcraft, Blizzard today shipped the fourth expansion to its mega money making MMO, Mists of Pandaria. As is the case with any Blizzard product release, there were midnight launch events all over.
I do wonder if, in the age of digital distribution, how long retailers will be willing to expand their hours for something that seems to be moving away from brick and mortar.
Mists of Pandaria continues the pattern set previously of WoW expansions coming out about every two years.
- WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
- The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
- Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
- Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
Making the average time between releases just shy of 716 days.
I strongly suspect that Blizzard’s ability to get away with an expansion every two years with, at times, a seeming modest investment in additional content in between, while continuing to grow until recently, was a big influence on SOE who, up to that point, seemed to feel that cranking out an expansion every six months, finished or not, was necessary to stay afloat. They have flailed about significantly less in the last few years.
Mists of Pandaria will likely stem the tide of subscription losses for now. WoW has gone from over 12 million subscribers just after the launch of Cataclysm to 9.1 million at the last quarterly report. We will know in a year or so if Pandas are a magic elixir or just a plateau on the way down. Mike Morhaime wisely declined to make predictions on that topic.
Unlike past WoW expansions, I will not be picking up Mists of Pandaria today. Our regular group grew bored of Cataclysm and moved on to other games. We are currently playing Rift.
But a lot of people have been waiting for this day. How about you?
Oh, and Ultima Online turned 15 today. Imagine that. [Link fixed]