Blizzard has prided itself on being a company that doesn’t release a product until it’s ready. I’ve always been respectful of that, and I think it has a lot to do with their success. If you release a product on time but unfinished, you lose some credibility.
But have they taken simply too much time preparing for the release of Cataclysm?
I’ve been a pretty big fan of the Wrath of the Lich King philosophy of 10/25 mans and hard modes, a clever way to allow everyone a chance to see all of the story-driven content, while still giving the more hardcore players a chance to feel special. I would have loved to be able to see all the content in The Burning Crusade, but that was not in the cards for someone with a relaxed play style like me. Now I’ve been able to kill the Lich King, even if it was only with 9 other people on regular mode. Unfortunately, a downside to this mechanism is that you don’t get the same epic feeling when killing an old boss in a new way.
I look back on my post about Anticipation for WotLK, and my view was almost completely the opposite. I didn’t want Wrath to come out because The Burning Crusade was still keeping me quite occupied! Now, I feel like this expansion has let my interests wander.
It’s been so long since Icecrown Citadel was released that pretty much everyone who was going to kill the Lich King has killed the Lich King, in one way or another. There are plenty of people who are still working on hard modes, but a lot of us have decided that instead of seeing the same old bosses several nights a week for 9 months straight, it’s a good time to play some other games. And while there is no harm in that, the longer Blizzard leaves us to play other games, the less chance there is for us to be brought back in for Cataclysm. By letting us realize, “Hey, there’s a whole other world out here!” and “Quitting WoW isn’t that bad, actually.” They’ve lost a lot of loyalty. I have no doubt that a lot of people will return to the game for Cataclysm, but I think the longer Blizzard waits to release it, the less committed the players will be to sticking around.
I never had any intention of not playing World of Warcraft this summer, it just happened. I’d realize I just hadn’t logged in in weeks; I’d actually forgotten about the game. And in a way, that kind of “quitting” is much worse for Blizzard than a forced quit, when someone still wants to play but has to stop. My list of other games to play is growing so much that I almost dread having to commit my gaming time to playing Cataclysm when it’s released.
What I’m trying to say is: Blizzard better knock this expansion out of the park if they hope to regain the devotion they had during the prime of Wrath of the Lich King.