Blizzard 'anticipates' World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will attract new players
World of Warcraft is slated to get its fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, since its original release in 2004. Mists of Pandaria adds a slew of new features for current players to enjoy including a Monk class, revamped pet system, the Pandaren race, the Pandaria continent packed with all-new dungeons and challenges, and an talent system overhaul.
It's quite the change from the current WoW that players are so accustomed to, but it's also one that newer, potential players may be intimidated by. At this stage of the game, World of Warcraft has amassed so much lore that it could be a challenge to attract new players.
Blizzard says that's just not the case, however, and fully expects Mists of Pandaria to attract new players.
"There are the new players; historically, when we put out these expansions, it nets us new players who haven't tried it before," said Paul Sams, Chief Operations Officer at Blizzard. "Mists of Pandaria is so beautiful and so accessible that I anticipate we'll see new players. It's a lot brighter and lighter than say, Cataclysm, which was a little darker."
In fact, Sams says it's the age - not lore - of the game that makes it harder to attract new players, but that they have worked hard to make sure World of Warcraft remains "easy to learn but hard to master".
"I don't know if the lore is what makes it challenging. I think it's more that it's been out for a long time and they make assumptions that it's hard and it might be not for them because they might not be a hardcore gamer. But we've worked really really hard to make sure that we have instituted our longstanding design principle of it being easy to learn but hard to master," he explained. "We worked hard to provide an incredible experience for the core folks, but it starts really easy for the newbies to come in, so they can slowly ramp their way to a place of bigger difficulty."
"I think Mists of Pandaria packs three punches in one. You're going to get a lot of content that will provide for a lot of wonderful new experiences on a high level of engagement. The players that are already there are going to really enjoy it. There are also a lot of players, who for whatever reason, have left and I think they'll be drawn back in by the new stuff we have in there like the new class, the new pet system, the new world, which as you alluded to, looks amazing."
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria doesn't yet have a release date, but Blizzard announced last week that beta testing for the latest expansion has begun, with the initial wave of invites going to Annual Pass holders, press, fansites, friends and family.
The first phase of the Mists of Pandaria beta primarily focuses on the 1-10 starting experience for new Pandaren. High-level content and template characters will become available in future beta updates.