In Which I Predict The Next Big World of Warcraft Feature

I felt compelled to write a post making some sort of prediction about what the next World of Warcraft expansion might bring us, a bit of comedy more or less, in before we get real information about what is coming.  A bit of fluff to be laughed at before it is swept away in the storm that follows.

WoWLogoBut to write a post like that you have to start somewhere, and I usually start with what I might want from the game.  And I can certainly pull a few out of where ever it is I store these sorts of things on my person.  My list might include:

  • Real Housing… no, REAL Housing Blizzard!
  • Guild Garrisons
  • Special Rules Servers
  • A New Race
  • A New Class
  • Dual Classing
  • Mounted Combat… no, REAL Mounted Combat Blizzard!
  • Alternate Advancement
  • New Trainable Skills for Battle Pets
  • A Level Cap Squish
  • A Viable Crafting System… no, a REAL Viable Crafting System Blizzard!
  • Mentoring/De-leveling
  • More Freakin’ Storage
  • More Freakin’ Five Person Dungeons
  • Player Made Dungeons
  • Player Made Zeppelins
  • Rip Off Minecraft Somehow

And I could discuss the merits of each and why Blizzard won’t be giving us any of them, because I can come up with damn good reasons why each of those don’t align with Blizzard’s own goals.

Because that is always what it comes down to with Blizzard.  They make slick, best-selling games, and they have succeeded largely by focusing more on works for their goals than for ours.  Sometimes that has worked out fabulously, sometimes less so. (Diablo III Auction House, I’m looking at you.)  But in the long term it has been a good plan.

So rather than asking myself what *I* want from the game, I decided to ask myself what Blizzard wants from the game?

And for me, the big clue came already this week.  The game, having peaked at 12 million subscribers back in the day, has been viewed as “in decline” ever since Cataclysm shipped about five years ago.

What I believe Blizzard thinks it needs is to be freed from that comparison.  It is a millstone around their neck, something that the analysts are going to peck at during every single earnings call.

So I am going to go way, way out on a limb here and predict that the big expansion announcement will include a business model transition.

World of Warcraft will be going free to play.

In one fell swoop they can wave bye-bye to subscription numbers and, as we all know, free to play transitions always see big initial success.  They remove the stigma of decline and revenue soars.

There will still be subscribers in some form.  There always are.  They will get some special benefits and some sort of stipend for the new cash shop currency that will be introduced.  They already have a cash shop in the game, it just uses your credit card currently.  How tough could it be to change that to a new currency they control?

And Blizzard, having seen how all of these other games… and the list is pretty long with Dungeons & Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, The Elder Scrolls Online, and so on and so forth… have done it and fared, might be able to steal this idea and make it their own, imbuing it with that special Anaheim magic (which I am sure they are siphoning off from Disney illicitly) as they have done so often in the past.

Tomorrow we might see the dawn of a shining new free to play utopia, the business model done right, and we will be able to look forward to full servers and special perks and sparkle ponies as far as the eye can see.

Or we’re getting more fucking orcs.

That’s my call, either free to play or more fucking orcs.

We shall see.

15 thoughts on “In Which I Predict The Next Big World of Warcraft Feature

  1. Talarian

    5.6 million subscribers is still a LOT of monthly cash influx. I’m not sure it makes sense to go F2P quite yet. As long as they’re still the biggest elephant in the room–even if that elephant is trumpeting a swan song of sorts–I don’t see them moving off subscriptions.

    Also, props to the tag “More Fucking Orcs” because I hope to the Titans it won’t be.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Talarian – Absolutely, if they have bottomed out at 5.6 million, then it probably wouldn’t make sense. But my gut says the decline isn’t over, and we’re already back into 2005 subscriber levels. If they drop much more SynCaine will be right and FFXIV will have more subscribers, a fate that Blizzard would have a hard time shrugging off.

    I made this prediction on a whim, but there is a certain internal logic to it that keeps me from completely laughing it off. I have at least fooled myself on it.

    And categories are sacred, but tags are made to be abused.


  3. HarbingerZero

    Yeah…that’s what, $80 million+ in monthly revenue they would be rolling the dice on? That would take some big brass orc balls to do. I mean, I would root for it, WoW would be a great casual drop-in-drop-out F2P MMO for me personally, but I can’t quite bring myself to believe that they are ready to make the move yet.


  4. bhagpuss

    It would be just typical if they announce a move to F2P just as I’m thinking, albeit vaguely, about re-subscribing, something I never thought I’d do.


  5. Ysharros

    Anything but more fucking orcs!!

    Personally I want every item on your list yesplz kthxbai. Not fucking likely, of course, when they could give us MFO.


  6. Jarhead

    It seems wrong that the end game content in World of Warcraft is all instanced. If it is for technical reasons about not being able to display enough sprites then lower the damn prettiness and give more fun.

    Every design decision should pass the ‘world’ test. Does this feature add more players to the world? Garrisons – no. arenas – no. nerfs to crafting especially gathering profs – no. Leashing of world bosses, one of the funnest events of vanilla were player created boss raids on cities – no. Timeless isle style zones – yes.

    Get the players out into the world.

    A minecraft style zone where players can affect the world might be near impossible but it would be pretty much perfect. Perhaps make it guild only would stop the inevitable greifing of opening it to a whole server. There are millions of young minecraft players who have been taught they can create their own world. if blizzard wants to grow it needs to attract more new players than it loses.


  7. Dejara Thoris

    I want a @#$%^&* closet of transmog skins, preferably like GW2’s. It would probably save them a boatload of server space too. As to what might really pull me in and come back? A rethink of how they do large group PvP. Currently they are almost schizophrenic about it.


  8. Noizy

    And EVE talking heads are concerned that activity in EVE is down to 2008 levels :)

    Seriously though, what’s with all the orcs? Are elves really worse than pandas? And Blizzard already has 2 flavors of elf, one in each faction.


  9. SynCaine

    WoW going F2P would be so sad at this point, but certainly feels far more inevitable than it did prior to FFXIV really picking up steam and Blizzard continuing to release dumpster expansions. Don’t think it will happen now though, not with the tokens still being so fresh.

    My guess is another swipe at ‘returning to the core’ with a focus on Orcs vs Humans. A smart idea (so it won’t happen, because New Blizzard) would be to expand garrisons to allow your garrison to fight other garrisons, and make the gameplay like Clash of Clans (setup a garrison for defending, use your followers as troops). Hell even allow the player’s actual character to join the battle as a super-hero as well. Give it a ranked mode, and you have a sustainable end-game that will last you, that’s PvP but not direct, and that ties in a lot of your other aspects; craft gear for followers, craft additions to your garrison, run dungeons/raids for certain boosts or fluff (follower skins).


  10. Pingback: I just fixed WoW, you’re welcome Blizzard | Hardcore Casual

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