WoW What May Come

World of Warcraft, those three words will either inspire admiration for a genre-defining MMO of 2004 or just insult your intelligence. Either way, you are reading this article because you are wondering how long before they stop beating this dead horse with a stick? Well even after a “dramatic decline” in subscribers, Blizzard is still sitting pretty at 11.4 Million subscribers. I guess the answer would then be, not anytime soon. We all know that World of Warcraft’s servers will remain live for as long as the game makes more money than it costs.

This however, doesn’t mean there will forever be new expansions. The end of the World of Warcraft is in some ways, closer than you think. Although this bit of information may have remained under the radar for some gamers, in December last year we saw a ‘Product Slate’ allegedly leaked from what seemed to be a Blizzard Investors/Shareholders Meeting. This slate portrays the development timeline for all of Blizzard’s current IP’s, and the reception of this information was at first a bit skeptical.

As time has passed though, we are starting to see that this information is becoming more credible and might in fact be a legitimate leak of solid information. If we take this at face value, we can see there are two more expansions left for World of Warcraft. What makes us even pay attention to this? Well there are a few factors that could in a sense provide a little credit to this product slate.
• The 4th expansion was confirmed by Greg Street, a System Designer at Blizzard.

• Greg also states that Blizzard is considering moving to an 18 month development cycle for future expansions. The product slate places the 4th expansion in Q2 2012, exactly within range of 18 months from the release of Cataclysm. The 5th expansion is once again 18 months from the 4th.

• Titan is allegedly released in the same Quarter as the 5th expansion, a great period for the development team for WoW to finalize their migration over to the new MMO, and to help capture the players once the final expansion is released.

• WoW is running low on untouched Lore (that is worthy of an entire expansion anyways) that it realistically makes sense to wrap it up in two final expansion packs.

While this isn’t nearly enough to outright claim legitimacy on the product slate, it does provide at least a good general insight to what will most likely be the future. If this slate is correct, Titan will be released in the same quarter as the final expansion pack. This makes sense, as to be expected most of Blizzards existing and previous player base will migrate over to their new MMO. Others will remain stubborn though, and of course continue to play WoW. This however, will see the point in which that 11.4 Million figure begins to make its inevitable decline, and most likely at record levels. The game however would still receive content updates, and things are most likely pointing towards the last content patch for WoW will be in November 2014, the 10 year anniversary of World of Warcraft.

At this point it is entirely up to the community how long the game will stay live, and this truly depends on the quality of project Titan. If it turns out to be a high quality MMO, there will be no reason for most WoW players to remain in the game. On the other hand though, it could turn out to be a disappointment and lead to extra longevity in WoW’s lifetime. On a side note, the 10th Anniversary will be a great time for players to get their hands on what might be the last batch of Warcraft Swag. Blizzard will go big on their last squeeze of the cow’s teat, and this will probably be your last chance to get your hands on collectibles and such. So it might be a good idea to save up some cash ahead of time, if you’re someone like me and like the idea of having a box of Warcraft junk in your cupboard to reminisce over fond vanilla memories.
It appears to be general consensus that the last two expansions of World of Warcraft will be revolving around the decease of the Old Gods and then finally into an expansion based around the the effects on Azeroth after losing the Old Gods, with the possibility of Sargeras being the final boss. It is likely at some point in the next two expansions we will finally get to see a finished version of the Emerald Dream in which players managed to access some time ago. It was bare, and had just a few unique plants here and there, some basic terrain and a sickly green ground texture. It was merely a place holder for a future continent, and it was massive. What part this will play, and how Blizzard will manage to bend the lore to allow non-druid classes to enter it are still unknown. It will be interesting though to see if it even plays any part at all in the future expansions.
None of this of course is confirmed, and while a lot of the information about other IP’s does line up with information provided in the chart, you should still take this as a “what may come” type situation. The only thing I am concerned about is the release date of project Titan. It does seem a little too close, but at the same time could be very reasonable. Those of you who enjoy WoW can rejoice in these final years, at what has been for the most part a great run. The rest of you can relax knowing that the end of that insulting game is almost at its end.