gamescom 2011

Blizzard Seeking "Meaningful Difference" In World Of Warcraft Expansion Timing

by Phil Kollar on Aug 19, 2011 at 06:30 AM

Earlier this week, Blizzard announced that the Deathwing battle is coming to World of Warcraft in the next patch. If that seems like it signals the end of the Cataclysm expansion pack to you, it should. The developer is hoping to be much more timely with the release of its next expansion.

I spoke to World of Warcraft game designer Tom Chilton today at Gamescom and asked him if Blizzard had reached its goal of speeding up the pace of content patches, an issue Chilton had brought up in a previous interview as one of the problems they faced with Wrath of the Lich King. His response revealed that we can probably expect the next WoW expansion much faster than the publisher's usual schedule of one every couple years:

"We've been able to do it in one sense, but not as much as I would like to in another sense. I would like for all patches to reliably have raid bosses. Our first Cataclysm patch didn't have raid bosses. From a raider's persepctive, it probably doesn't feel any faster than it did before. For us, where the biggest improvement is going to be in this cycle is in the actual expansion release. Traditionally we've only been able to do an expansion about every two years. We're really hoping to make a meaningful difference in that."

With Wrath of the Lich King's final content patch, the final raid was released in segments, leaving the Lich King encounter itself locked away for over a month after the patch had been released. Chilton told me that the current plan with the Deathwing raid is to have it all available immediately upon release, so they will not be dragging the lifespan of this patch out. That means the developer will be motivated to get the expansion out relatively quickly to avoid players losing interest.

"Hopefully it will feel noticable," Chilton said. "It's hard to say for sure, because I could be off, and we could end up taking longer than what we hope."

Chilton was not ready to confirm anything yet, but he strongly hinted that the new World of Warcraft expansion will be announced and shown for the first time at Blizzcon, which is happening in October. I'll be there to report on the news and grill Chilton and company about whatever is next for World of Warcraft, so stay tuned.