Blizzard Delays Shadowlands Expansion

I speculated just yesterday that, with the clock running down on the WoW team, the Shadowlands expansion might end up being delayed as rather large changes were still being made late in the beta.

And today we have this from the WoW team:

To the WoW community,

I wanted to let you know that we’re delaying the release of Shadowlands to later this year—and while we’re still in the process of determining the right new date to launch, we felt it was important to let you know about this change in plans as soon as we could. This was an incredibly difficult decision for the team, as we’re as eager to get the expansion into your hands as you are to play it—but ultimately, we feel it’s the right decision for the game—and for our players.

Over the past several months of testing, we’ve made significant progress iterating on and polishing the core features and gameplay of Shadowlands. We’re at a point where the zones, the campaign, the level-up questing experience, and the story we have to tell are essentially ready to share. We’re excited by the Covenants at the heart of the expansion, and it’s been a thrill to see Torghast take shape into a fun new kind of WoW experience, thanks in no small part to your input.

However, as everything started coming together and we’ve been listening to and building upon your feedback, it’s become clear we need a little more time for additional polish, and to balance and iterate on some interlocking pieces—particularly those related to the endgame. Shadowlands is one of the most intricate expansions we’ve yet created, and while we’ve made great progress, the challenge of tuning the endgame was compounded by the team having to work from home.

Blizzard has a commitment to quality. We believe Shadowlands will be something special, and we’ve heard from many of you who feel the same. We need this extra time to ensure that Shadowlands lives up to its full potential.

In the meantime, we’re excited to announce that beginning October 13 we will be releasing the Shadowlands pre-patch, which lays a lot of the groundwork for the expansion and includes our revamped character leveling, new-player experience on Exile’s Reach, and a host of new character customization options. And once we get closer to Shadowlands’ release, you’ll be called upon to defend Azeroth against a resurgence of the Scourge during our pre-launch event.

Thanks for your support and passion, and for your continued help and feedback as we head toward the finish line.

We’ll see you in the Shadowlands soon,

John Hight, Executive Producer of World of Warcraft

The original promise from Blizzard was that we would get the expansion in the fall of this year, a season that runs until December 21st, so they still have enough runway left to make that target.

We shall see how this rolls I suppose.

In the mean time, we did get a date for the pre-patch.  We now have until October 13, 2020 to finish up what we’re doing before that hits.  Then we can start wrestling what the level squish really means.

Addendum: Word is that Blizzard sent out a note to everybody who had already purchased the Shadowlands expansion offering up a refund if they wanted it, no questions asked.  It is nice to see that Blizz has learned some lessons over the years.  Most people won’t take it, but the fact that they offered it is good PR.

I expect that this is also the reason they waited until today, the first day of Q4 2020, to make this announcement.  Q3 is locked in and if they ship before the end of Q4 they will be able to recognize revenue for all the pre-orders and new purchases, which will make the quarter for them.  But there was no point in letting even a few refunds drag down Q3 I guess.

8 thoughts on “Blizzard Delays Shadowlands Expansion

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ula – Ouch, but Blizzard is probably one of the few companies that can delay and get away with it. They won’t suffer financially the way a small company would if they had to push out a release.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Archey

    I mentioned in discord that this is more like the old Blizzard: it’s not done till it’s done. That said, there are a number of Classic players, reportedly, who already resigned their raid spots hoping to start ShadowLands soon. Oops.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anypo8 – They do have some experience with some aspects of the squish from past moves, like making content scale when the expanded the level ranges of old expansions previously, which included making gear rewards from quests and drops go with your current level. (Something the said was “impossible” previously, when they really meant “we don’t have the time to do it right now.”)

    On the other hand, there are so many more things that can go wrong. All the old content, sliced up and laid out in parallel 10-50 tracks. That is going to be interesting to watch. I will no doubt roll up a couple new characters just to take a peek.

    I am most looking forward to somebody discovering the optimum 10-50 path through a particular expansion that gives the best rewards.

    @Archey – Yeah, like I said, it is nice that they have the luxury of pulling back the date, though I remain a bit surprised that they committed to a date. Blizz has generally be very reluctant to commit until they were damn sure. I pointed out the ad they ran in the December 2004 edition of CGW magazine still had copy that said people could apply to join the beta, which meant they were not sure in September that they would release before the end of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bhagpuss

    Delays like this are clearly in the interest of the game but not being able to make a date you’ve announced never looks good. To turn it into a real win you need to do what Amazon did withNew World this summer and show people something that shows huge potential that looks as though a little more time could fulfill. Then you have to actually complete on that potential. If Shadowlands comes out late and is great, the delay will be seen as Blizzard taking the time to get it right, which is part of their myth. If Shadowlands ends up being no more loved than BFA, though…

    I’m just happy the pre-patch is coming in two weeks. Everything I want to see is in that and the timing’s pretty good for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Telwyn

    I’m cautiously optimistic about this, it sounds like the expansion really needed some more dev time. For once they’ve not rushed it out the door (unlike Draenor and BfA). We have several guidlies who are not happy as they’d booked time off for the release, I’d much rather this be a ‘good’ expansion than have access to a buggy-mess earlier.

    I hope the level squish/new levelling by expansion system does work. Level-syncing as it is now has some quirks, certain boss mechanics are brutal (e.g. the totem boss in remade RFK) for even a relatively high level/geared group. Also there’s an issue with experience gain. Our friend brought along a level 110 priest to heal for our dungeon leveling group (our characters being the lowest level) to Legion dungeons and said priest wasn’t getting any meaningful experience. Maybe that’s by design to force all characters to “experience” BfA but honestly that’s nonsense. Let us play how we want. The player has leveled several characters through BfA already, why should every alt be forced to do the same content when the game has a level-sync system implemented?

    Liked by 1 person

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