The release date for the next expansion in the popular World of Warcraft MMO, Warlords of Draenor, was hinted at by Activision Blizzard today. After many months of speculation, Blizzard began taking digital preorders for the expansion today. The standard version will cost $50 and the “digital deluxe” edition, which includes perks such as a special mount and companion pet, will cost $70. Another feature that became available today was the ability to purchase “character boosts.” This function will automatically raise a character to the current maximum level in the game, which is level 90. This feature has been highly controversial within the World of Warcraft (WoW) community and could easily be the subject of many articles of its own.
However there was one line on the ordering page for the expansion that attracted a great deal of attention today. Listed among the many features of Warlords of Draenor (WoD) was this line, “Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014.” While this is not a hard and fast confirmation that WoD will not be available until December, it does give an idea of the timeline that Blizzard has in mind for the release of the expansion. If this date turns out to be correct, it would indicate a change in thinking on the part of Blizzard in terms of releasing new content for their flagship MMO.
The most recent content addition to the game, called patch 5.4, was released in September of 2013. This patch included the final raid dungeon for the Mists of Pandaria (MoP) expansion, the Siege of Ogrimmar, which ended the storyline that had been playing out during MoP. Should it prove to be the case that WoD is not released until December 2014, which means that WoW will have gone over one full year, close to fifteen months, without an addition of any new content. That is a very significant period of time. This potential release date for Warlords of Draenor may not be confirmed, but it does hint at the future for World of Warcraft.
Blizzard has been criticized in the past for the speed at which it adds content to its games, or even releases those games. It has become a “meme” on the Internet to mock Blizzard’s tendency to say that a game will be released “when it’s done.” The strategy has proven successful for the company however, as its games are very well received by both critics and players alike, regardless of the speed of their release. However over the course of the MoP expansion, Blizzard had stated their desire to increase the speed at which they add content to WoW. They agreed that the pace was too slow and that players could be left without things to do. There is also the monetary aspect to this in that WoW is a subscription based game. Players pay a monthly fee to access it. Bored players are more a risk to unsubscribe, leaving the game and reducing Blizzard’s revenue.
It remains to be seen whether the December 2014 date seen today will be the final release date of WoD. It would be in keeping with the pace Blizzard has set in the past; however it would be contrary to more recent statements by the company regarding content releases. In either date, the release date for the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft may have been confirmed today.
By Christopher V. Spencer
On Twitter @CVSpencer79