Updated Thu, Jan 05, 2012 by Saia
2012 is here and with it a new expansion. Yes, we know how this works and, if previous years are to go by, the beta should hit by July and release around December. Except, I hope it’s not like other years and this is not the case.
Yes, I do feel that there will come a day that Blizzard will have to re-evaluate its current business model. It won’t be in the next year, perhaps, as they just started offering the Annual Pass but I think it’s inevitable. We’re already seeing the push though: the Guardian Cub, the Blizzard Pet Store and the real money-based Auction House in Diablo III. The signs are there, we just have to take off our rose-tinted glasses and pay attention to them.
I'm pretty certain 2012 will mean a bigger push on micro transactions but, as the last year has shown, players are a fickle bunch but we are prepared to pay real money for digital items. Even then, we want some bang for our buck and, as the drop in subscribers has demonstrated, many felt they just weren’t getting it. But, you know what? I’m convinced that, on that inevitable day when Blizzard announce they’re making WoW free to play, that it will actually be the best thing they’ve ever done.
I predict we'll be in Pandaria by December but hope it will be much sooner.
I also think it might alter how and when we get expansions, making the whole process much faster, especially in the wake of the shift from physical media to digital downloads and virtual collector’s editions.
As much as I love the feel of the physical collector’s edition, so much of it - barring the artbook - could be made available digitally for free or, alternatively, a much cheaper amount. I do think times are changing; WoW has been around for seven years and that’s a heck of a long time. It not only shows the durability of the franchise but also the devotion of us, the players.
I do hope WoW has a better year in 2012; to be honest, I don’t think it can have a worse one. That said I do have a concern that we’re going to have nothing major to be excited about until Mists hits beta.
Why do I think this? Well Deathwing’s now officially dead. I know because his head is hanging by the portals in Stormwind but I can’t help but wonder how Blizzard is planning to deal with the minimum 12 months before the next expansion. That’s a long time to go without major content patches, especially when Hour of Twilight wasn’t actually that big. Or, at least, it didn’t feel like that.
While I’m sure Blizzard is going to give us some more, smaller patches before we head off to Pandaria but I do wonder what we’re going to be doing. Will it be enough to sustain us when Deathwing was killed on heroic in less than a month?
I suppose the uptake of Cataclysm, even though it’ll be the expansion everyone wants to forget about in a few years, is that it did teach Blizzard harsh lessons which we can but hope they won’t repeat in Mists of Pandaria. 2011 has been a lesson and 2012 should be a fresh start, indeed, it could be Blizzard’s best year yet if they give us good content regularly and really inspire excitement about the next expansion.