In a recent interview with World of Warcraft’s lead quest writer Dave Kosak, VideoGamer.com asked him some questions about the end of Cataclysm and beginning of Mists of Pandaria. What does Blizzard have in store for their massive MMO between now and then?
Patch 4.3 is in fact that last planed patch for Cataclysm. “There is no more Cataclysm content. Traditionally we've had a grace period where we patch the game before the expansion comes out and you get sort of mechanical changes before you get the new expansion content. So we'll have a world event prior to Mists of Pandaria, but that's mostly a part of Mists of Pandaria's launch and it's not really more Cataclysm content.”
I remember when Wrath of the Lich King came out and the Plague Lands were invaded by floating necropolises. This sort of world event is what Kosak is revering too. Without a confirmed release date for Mists of Pandaria, dedicated WoW players will need to wait from 4.3 to 5.0 for new major content. This could be a while.
So what will keep WoW players… playing? What will keep subscribers from, unsubscribing? This is a crucial time for WoW and not a good time to have massive downtimes. While 4.3 should keep players happy for a while, eventually the content will be covered. This is the period where players will unsubscribe – for a few months if not forever. Other games and other MMO’s will draw the subscribers away if they decide that product is better, WoW could lose even more players.
What we do is we always look at what's best for the game. You know, we're not tracking subscription numbers obsessively, we're just trying to make the best game we can. We've definitely said publicly that we're trying to roll out content at a faster pace, with a better schedule so players have more to do and it's certainly something we're looking at. And we think that's just good for the game, that's not a "Oh no we have to do this to keep subscribers!". It's a better game, it's the game we want to play and should have more frequent updates.
Cataclysm already had lots of unsubscribes. The model of revamping what already existed was not as effective as hoped. Despite that, Kosak says that Blizzard is still happy how it all turned out. While the model of doing what they think is best for the game seems noble; if you are losing massive subscribers, are you doing what is best for the players?