Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cataclysmic Math (Release Date Speculation)

So we’re all on vent discussing our theories on when Cataclysm might drop. I’m looking for a Christmas 2010 release, others in my guild were looking more for a May release.

The logic behind the Christmas release is fairly straightforward. I predicted back in May that the Expansion would be unveiled at Blizzcon.

“Blizzcon is coming up, and I believe there is a good chance Blizzard announces the next Expansion at Blizzcon. Wrath was announced two years ago at Blizzcon 2007.” (

The other prediction I made in that post was not entirely true, but I was darn close. I predicted an Engineer class, but instead we got a Goblin race. Goblin is one of the specialties of Engineering so you might say ‘from a certain point of view’, that I was right on that one as well.

So my logic goes something like this. Burning Crusade drops, the next Blizzcon (2007) they announce Wrath. Wrath drops around Christmas 2008. So following the same pattern, Wrath drops. The next Blizzcon (2009) they announce Cataclysm. Then we conclude Cataclysm will drop Christmas 2010.

Brilliant, eh?

During the course of the conversation, we discussed how long patches were lasting as a predictor of when the Expansion would be upon us. If you look at the first patch, it lasted from mid November to mid April, or about 5 months. The Ulduar patch lasted from mid April to early August. Again, that’s about 5 months. Now if Crusade lasts about 5 months that puts Ice Crown out around January. That perfectly positions it near the time when people playing Aion will be done with their free month they get for buying the game. And just as they will be making a decision on getting their Aion subscription or not, here comes Arthas, in the....err..flesh? Blizzard is not unaware of these kind of things. You can’t be as successful as Blizzard is and not have some really smart people working for you.

That scenario would require IceCrown to last almost an entire year if my guess of November is right.

If Icecrown were to last only about the same time as the other patches have, that is about 5 months, then that would put the Expansion out around July which is much closer to my guildmates guess. That would also put it out before the next Blizzcon. Which would make sense given that while discussing the new Goblin race, Tom Chilton (a lead designer for World of Warcraft) voiced a thought something along the lines of “I’m sure Alliance will be complaining about Goblin rogues at the next BlizzCon.”

But I was thinking, what if Blizzard’s goal was actually that each major patch lasts about 4 months, and the reason it looks like 5 months is a week here and week there on delays. If you remember not too long after Burning Crusade came out, Blizzard stated their goal was 1 expansion per year. Obviously, that turned out to be a little ambitious. So instead of a full 10 level expansion, which took 2 years to get out, why not cut that in half, to say 5 levels. Now, maybe that’s something you can get done in a year.

Then recently, when answering the question if there was more beyond Ice Crown in Wrath, the Community Managers responded that they plan on having 3 major patches each Expansion. Ice Crown is it.

Now you do the math. 3 major patches per Expansion. Each patch should run about 4 months. That’s 12 months, or 1 year worth of the content, and boom! you are ready for the next Xpac.


Argent said...

It's 16 months per expansion, because the initial content is another "patch" worth of time-length. Overall, you'd expect with delays and so forth to see an expansion every 18 months or so:

3.0 - 5-ish months
3.1 - 4 months
3.2 - 5-ish months
3.3 - 4 months

Would be my guess. Given that, I'm expecting a May target for Cataclysm. Given Cataclysm's focus on new lower-level content, it's probably okay if it launches in June or July (typically low times for raiding), as lots of people will be excited about the new content for alts.

My guess is that we'll see Onyxia (3.2.2) around mid-September, and then Icecrown around mid-late October, and then about 5 months before the expansion, with another 1-month event leading up to the launch.

But my crystal ball could be way off.

Anonymous said...

I think 3.2.2 drops late Sept to early Oct...possibly late October. There is a fall harvest patch that needs to go in for the last two weeks of November. So, I'd imagine that blizzard will wait til a later time to put this in.

3.3.0 drops in early-November at the earliest.

4.0 should drop late April-early May to meet second quarter earnings reporting, if they are doing it this way. However, I think if they want it to look good on the 3rd quarterly returns, you can expect a July 7th or 8th release date(which I am betting more on). If they want to go into the next quarter, look for an October 12th or 13th release.

Just some crystal-ballin'

Great blog!

Anonymous said...

" ‘from a certain point of view’ "

This holds for many of the truths we cling to.



Anonymous said...

I think that blizzard will definitely try to release Patch 3.3 before or at the beginning of this years holiday season.
Gamers need something to do in their free time, and letting a big chunk of their playerbase try out a new major MMO in the holiday is just way to dangerous for them.

Maybe 3.3 will last a little longer than the average Patch to let more people fight off the badass of the expansion, my estimate for the next expansion is April to June next year.

Anonymous said...

During one of the panels at blizzcon, one of the people from blizz said that we would be complaining about the op'ness of the new classes at the next blizzcon (or something close to that effect).

Steven said...

"so you might say ‘from a certain point of view’, that I was right on that one as well."

Nice Obi-Wan reset there.
Love the blog, my bet is actually splitting the difference and saying September.

Tolecnal and Co.

What's my main Again? said...

I don't believe they honestly expect ToC to last a full 5 months. Heck I have a feeling people would already be sick of it if not for the month long gating they have in place.

I'm thinking 3.2.2 mid sept and 3.3 late nov. I could see them giving 2-3 months for ToC and then 6 for Icecrown.

The gear reset that came with 3.2 leads me to believe that this expansion cycle is intended to be shorter then BC.

Then again... the new gear takes a huge number of emblems to gather... I hope that isn't an indication of how long it will be till Icecrown.

Anonymous said...

As an investor in Activision Blizzard, I definitely see this being a shorter cycle than BC was. The company has moved now towards two things with warcraft. #1 A shift in focus from acquiring a player base to maintaining it. #2 efficiency with their code. If you look at what blizzard does programming wise, you will see that they have in all honesty, smoothed out their code and their ability to program the WoW engine. I think these two components make it likely we will see a late spring/early summer release.

Also if it is released at this time. Focus will then shift to the sequels for starcraft and diablo for the holiday sales.

Refractor said...

It has been previously stated by GC that the "Deep Prot Healing" PvP spec for paladins would be fixed before next arena season starts. The fixes are in 3.2.2. If the next arena season start date is out there (I personally have no idea), THAT is latest that 3.2.2 would drop.

Although the content life cycle for each major patch is generally 4-5 months, will this hold true for 3.3 and 31 (perhaps more?) bosses? (I'm sure I saw GC leak that number a few weeks ago) That is a metric ton of raid content and bosses to clear (and not just by the Stars/Ensidias/Methods of the world) in only 4-5 months.

Honors Code said...

GC was being facetious when he mentinoed the 31 bosses. There won't be that many.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that is different on this expansion compared to Wrath is the comment made by one of the developers that work on Cataclysm started before Wrath was released. They are really farther ahead on this than most of think they are. I would be surprised if this is not out late Spring to early Summer 2010.