Next Expansion Surprise

In a rather surprising twist, Blizzard announced it’s expansion announcement will be announced during Gamescon on August 6th. That’s a full three months ahead of Blizzcon, which has been the traditional venue for such news. Speculation abounds for the reasoning behind the early reveal, but I feel Wilhelm is on point with this observation:

[…] the date seems set to come in just after we get the Activision-Blizzard quarterly results for the second quarter of 2015 and, most importantly, the WoW subscription numbers that will come with it.  That hits on August 4th according to the investor relations site.

For the first quarter of 2015 the subscription numbers were down to 7.1 million.  Now there is a rush to get the next expansion announced early in August, a slow news month, well before BlizzCon, and just after the quarterly report?

WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

As mentioned in the MMO-Champ comments, what is also amusing is the hypothetical future in which the next expansion is released by the end of the year. Amusing because the “flying patch” still hasn’t came out yet, and thus we might have (inadvertently?) been put into the “unlock flying in Draenor when the expansion launches” scenario.

But how likely is a December 2015 release really? Blizzard has promised quicker launches for ages now, and I don’t think anyone thinks they are capable of doing so. Even if the August reveal is a fully playable beta… would Blizzard only run an expansion beta for 3-4 months? Maybe. I believe Warlords was 5 months from alpha to beta to release. If we see an expansion announcement in August followed by a beta test after Blizzcon in November, that would set them up for a mid-summer expansion release around the time of the WoW movie. That makes more sense to me… and puts the 6.2 raid tier at 10-12 months long. Just like the good ole’ days.

As for predictions over subscriber numbers? I honestly have no idea. I obviously suspect a large subscriber loss in the last quarter, but I have no idea how the numbers will be finessed by the WoW Token. I have eight such tokens sitting in my inventory right now, for example. Am I counted as a subscriber? Will they continue counting me for eight months despite my not redeeming said tokens? Tough to say.

Just to throw out a number though: 6.5 million.

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Posted on July 30, 2015, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. dachengsgravatar

    Next Expansion Surprise

    Not a surprise to me. I predicted this just last week, after Alternative Chat noticed an announcement by mamytwink.

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  2. There were three WoW Vloggers who had a long conversation (essentially a 2 and a half hour “things we are annoyed with the game” podcast primarily driven by the Mamytwink interview of Cory Stockton with odd as hell audio (NSFW)) back on July 3rd and one of them predicted that they could and likely would announce this now, simply because there isn’t a way they can make the current 6.2 content last a whole year.

    As for producing content faster, I pointed out in another comment that with the non-content patch that was 6.1 the “second team” will have had a full 9 months to work on the expansion, so I would hope they could push out a beta right after, but even if they do, it’s not inherently enough to make me happy. If there isn’t more content at expansion drop with this one, there’s no way I am going back. I felt burned by Cata, left for the last 9 months of it, and waited 2 months before I bought MoP. WoD is the first expansion where I haven’t at least engaged with every piece of content as it came on. The feeling of being fleeced is substantially higher this time around and they’ve got a long way to go to make things right.

    As for population, I would estimate closer to 5mil than 7 (no more than 6), but you do have a point, how do they count tokens and subs in quarterly reports. New territory here so they could possibly hide the number of active player numbers simply by presenting the total amount of money made from “subscription-like” resources. I think the change they had a bit back about how many tokens you can buy and hold at one time may very well have been something the lawyers forced them to do if they are going this way.

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  3. I think the speculation on timing is likely to be correct – that it’s a reaction to the fallout from dropping sub counts / Q2 results.

    Prediction: no way do they release an expansion in 2015. They’ve never been even close to 13 months before. I do think it’ll be sooner than we’ve seen in the past. There’s no point to announcing an expansion that won’t hit until Sep 2016 or later, and I think your hunch of timing with the movie is likely to be right. I’d guess April/May of next year – allowing excitement to build just prior to movie release (that’s slated for June, right?).

    As for sub counts, I’d WAG we’re down to 5.5-6.0 million or so.

    I’m guessing they count a sub as a sub – since they get money for the tokens, that extra time IS being paid for – at a premium. No reason not to count token-using folks as subs.

    This does put pressure on the economy, though, which all else equal, means we’re likely to see more gold sinks going forward. I recall seeing some new or upcoming mount listed for sale at 100k (or was it 150k?). Blizz is likely to come up with a bunch of these so that we AH players help them suck coin out of the game.

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