Blizzard Admits that WoW Expansions are Just Going to Take Time

I don’t think yearly expansions would be the best things for our players.

-Ion Hazzikostas, Blizzard Dev Q&A Stream, June 16, 2016

My daughter and I were just discussing the possible timing of our inevitable return to Azeroth this week.  WoW Legion is coming at the end of August, the WoW 7.0 patch and pre-expansion events will drop a bit before that (that just went up on the PTR this week), the Warcraft movie just came out, Blizzard is pushing some new player items on their web site, so the time seemed ripe for that discussion.

My daughter thought this coming weekend, which includes Father’s Day here in the US, might be the time.  We could get back on and play together in Azeroth.  I thought that might be a bit too early for us to re-up.

Experience shows that both of us have something of a limited to how long we can play WoW before we wander off to other things.  I am generally good for something between 12 to 18 months before I need a break, while my daughter tends to clock in at about half that.  So I don’t want to start too early.  Waiting a few weeks, maybe for the US Independence Day holiday next month, seemed appropriate.

It was, as I explained to my daughter, about knowing your limitations, an idea brought home early on in yesterday’s Blizzard WoW Legion Live Developer Q&A stream.  You can find the recording of the stream here, though you need to jump ahead to just past the 17 minute mark before anything happens.  The joy of Twitch stream recording.

The stream, which features Assistant Game Director Ion Hazzikostas and Community Manager Josh Allen, delves into all sort of questions from the community.

Ion and Josh live on Twitch

Ion and Josh live on Twitch

If you’re really into the game… well, you’ve probably watched it.  But if you haven’t, there is a lot of decent information about plans and changes and what not.  They can’t tell you when the WoW 7.0 patch will hit… because they don’t know yet… but other details abound.  There will be flying in WoW Legion, for example.

For me though, the stream gets straight to the meat of the elephant in the room, just to screw up a metaphor, with a question about content droughts, which comes in at just about the 23 minute mark.

Seriously, what is the plan?

Seriously, what is the plan?

With this Ion has to come up with a mea culpa as they admit live, on Twitch, that there was such a post-Warlords of Draenor drought because they thought WoW Legion was going to be out a lot sooner.  They admit that, in hindsight, with five expansions worth of experience behind them, that they probably should of known this wasn’t a viable plan.

There is a philosophical moment in there where Ion says that they could do a drop with some new content much sooner, but what distinguishes a WoW expansions, what we have come to expect, are things like to systems, new races, new classes, and things like that which simply take more time to get right.  An expansion every year wouldn’t be what we we expect out of a WoW expansion.

So the plan is to have a lot more post-launch content drops for the WoW Legion expansion.

I have already seen an assumption about this based on the belief that, with the pressure removed to get expansions out more quickly that the cadence of such releases might thus slow down, leading to fewer expansions.

I guess I could see that, but there is still the economic incentive to get expansions out as they still represent a significant pay day for Blizzard.  I doubt they will be letting expansions slip to, say, one every three to four years for that reason alone.

And that payday is multiplied by the fact that expansions tend to be community revival events that bring lapsed subscribers back to the fold.  Expansions need to stay on their current track.

Of course, all of this will mean different things to different people.  I am not sure I have ever stopped playing WoW because I lacked for content, simply because I am pretty sure I have ever lacked for content.  There has always been something else to do in the game.  The limiting factor has generally been my attention span and my desire for a change of scenery now and again.  But that is just me… well, me and my daughter, chip off the old block head that she is.

Anyway, if you are into it, you should probably go watch the video for the same reason I did, which is the reason Ion would like you to as well.

It can be very different hearing somebody actually talk about something in context than reading a summary of that discussion after the fact.  You often end up with trolling, inexplicable quotes like that one I put up at the top of the post just to make this point.

Addendum: We’ll see who else picks up this topic.  Currently there is:

4 thoughts on “Blizzard Admits that WoW Expansions are Just Going to Take Time

  1. SynCaine

    Given the current state of WoW, to me this sounds like a justification for a smaller team doing less (which still means a huge team doing amazingly little considering the resources compared to other MMOs).

    In other words, the expansions will come slower, but expect basically the same amount of ‘free’ content between expansions (since every expansion Blizz promises more content between expansions, yet every post-expansion period brings less).

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  2. C. T. Murphy

    I just want more post-expansion content that wasn’t originally promised with the expansion itself. Features like selfies and other social media integration should come on their own, independent of the content cycle for that expansion. There needs to be more of a shake-up with the holidays and more regular events scheduled to fill in other gaps too.

    As it stands, waiting forever for an expansion that completely changes the game, then two to three content patches after that, just does not feel fun.

    Like

  3. bhagpuss

    If they can’t supply new product on a timely basis because they have trained their customer base to expect product that surpasses that which they can produce then they really shouldn’t have trained their customers to have such inflated expectations in the first place.

    I find the entire business model of most MMOs weird. Why wouldn’t they want to knock out at least one full, paid-for expansion every year? Yet most of them seem to think we’ll all wait around for them to get it “right” even if that takes two or three years. I’m not sure who’s crazy – them for doing it or us for letting them.

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  4. Jenks

    The game has so much content, they need to reuse it in better ways. Timewalking was a super low effort but decent start. Have current endgame take advantage of the rest of the world, not just the territory of the current expansion. It looks like they are adding daily quests which send you out doing various missions around the legion area, why not all around the world? It’s part of Blizzard’s shitty design philosophies that look at WoW as a video game rather than a world. We’re leveling up to level 7 this summer, not exploring a new corner of Azeroth, which is a shame.

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