Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Taste of Things To Come - Part 1

Hey a video that has a line that's relevant to my article and some kung fu fighting! Excellent!

With the Blizzcon event out of the way and our heads reeling from all the info we've been fed, it's time to make some predictions.
I'm not too good at doing that usually, but I think there are some reasonable assumptions that we can make without hurting ourselves.

*grabs his crystal ball*

Obvious Stuff

First, we'll get the 4.3 Demon Soul patch in November. (All signs are pointing to that so far.)
A patch cycle usually lasts 3 months - the good raiders clear the content by that time at least on Normal mode and are banging their heads on the Heroic encounters.
Then people start losing interest and a general grumble starts to emanate from the masses about not enough content content coming their way and general assumptions about Blizzard's staff.

That cycle will be momentarily interrupted by two events: the release of SWeeTOR (people going to play that game that's about WoW with lightsabers) and the Holidays (people going on a short vacations, visiting relatives - the usual shenanigans...).

So come February, the patch cycle will be close to ending, the wonder and excitement and hype of SWeeTOR will have greatly diminished (just like it did with Rift) and near the end of the month/beginning of March, Blizzard will be melting the winter cold with the unleashing of Diablo III. (My prediction.)

And the competition shall tremble...

Shrouded by Mists

Now this is getting further and further in the future, so my crystal ball is giving me murkier images on what will happen next.
I see the second quarter of 2012 as being the time frame when a Mists of Pandaria Beta is released and a PvP-themed world event will find it's way onto the live realms.
Shortly after, in the third quarter of 2012, we will blow away the ocean mists with many cannonballs and explosions and discover Pandaria.

I would prefer Blizzard to release MoP before the next Blizzcon because that would be a whole year spent in a world of patch 4.3, but they have the excuse of having 3 IPs to release in a single year to scale it back as much as they can.
And I would bet some of my in-game currency that the Blizzard Marketing Department is totally against releasing them back-to-back : that would create confusion in their player bases, knowing fully well that many Blizzard fans (like myself) will want to play all 3 games.
It would not surprise me if they did a Blizzcon release - they'd have managed to keep us occupied with Diablo III and the MoP beta for just long enough, then throw a World Event at the beginning of Fall 2012 just to tide us over until Blizzcon happens.
If they release MoP sooner than that, the better for us all !
One thing is almost 100% sure: the release order will be Diablo III, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, Mists of Pandaria.

Yes, you've noticed that this is the first time I've mentioned SC2 and I did not write it in the timeline.
And that's because we simply don't know what's happening with that game.
We know what they are working on currently because they've just told us, but we have no means to guess a timeframe.
But I think the release of SC2 will have little to no effect on the overall WoW community (I didn't see any significant change on my server when Wings of Liberty came out - did you ?).

The key thing we need to pay attention to for confirmation will be the Activision/Blizzard quarterly financial report conference calls.
(Next one is November 8th.)
With investors probably salivating at the prospect of the release of three long-awaited games in a single year, Mike Morhaime will have to start talking timeframes - and you can bet that the gaming community will analyze his every word to know when they can expect their games to come out.
(Or the conference call will be about financial analysts asking questions on the next cash crop of ''Call of Duty : How Can We Further Milk This Dead Horse''...)

Blizzcon 2012

We can be sure about a few things for the next Blizzcon:
  • They will hint at a Diablo III expansion being in the works.
  • They will hint at the Protoss chapter of SC2 being in the works.
  • If Mists of Pandaria has not been released by then, it will be all about hyping the expansion without giving too many details (see Blizzcon 2010 lackluster as Cataclysm was about to come out)
  • If Mists of Pandaria has been released, it will be detailing of future patches and discussing what we love/hate about the expansion.
  • Someone from Blizzard will mention the Titan Project in other terms than ''We're not ready to talk about it yet''.
So if you plan to go to Blizzcon once in your life, you might want to skip next year...

That timeline again

If my fake psychic powers don't fail me, that should be what's in store for us in our next Blizzard-themed year.
Hey, let's compare all of this with that leaked Blizzard timeline !

According to this, the SC2 expansion is slated for Q4 2011, Diablo III is slated for that same time slot but we know that's been pushed into Q1 2012, and WoW's 4th expansion is planned for Q2 2012 but that can be pushed further in the future.
So what I wrote sounds at least reasonable if the company is still sticking to their development plans (which might have been totally updated and doesn't look anymore like this at all).

What's the point of all this ?

This is a sort of heads-up of things to come.
Even if my schedule is completely wrong, you have a general idea of what to expect.
Heck, my WoW time will be limited by the 2 other games !
Most importantly, the Cataclysm clock is now officially ticking - which puts even more pressure on me to manage my time in-game and achieve goals that might be difficult to obtain once we jump into Pandaria.
But this is simply a blueprint for gold-makers of the potential behavior of players and therefore Auction House behavior.
If you haven't been able to detect the course of future opportunities in this post, I'll try to spell it out for you in my following post...

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