Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More on Freezing Jihad

Reading other people's blogs and looking at incoming links, I see that currently I get a lot of kudos for my Freezing Jihad predictions. I don't think they are that close, but the gist of it, that the second expansion is a new continent for levels 70 to 80 certainly describes the actual Wrath of the Lich King well, even if there are no pink orcs. The problem is that this wasn't a prediction, it was a parody. What I really wanted was something completely different. What I got was something resembling my parody far more than it resembles my dream expansion.

But let's not forget that the bar was set very high, maybe it was impossible to make the kind of expansion that would have satisfied everyone. I hear a lot of people being disappointed and saying they won't buy the Wrath of the Lich King. Not me, I'll buy it. Because I'm convinced that the quality of the content in WotLK will be excellent, as usual, at least until you hit the next level cap. I enjoyed leveling to 70 in the Burning Crusade too, there is no reason to assume that this won't be the same in the next expansion. The only problem is one of "too little, too late". As I already stated, I plan to buy it, but I also foresee being through with it after 3 months or so.

The official release date for Wrath of the Lich King is "when it's ready". The unofficial release date is May 29 2008, 16 months after TBC and three-and-a-half years after the initial release. EQ2, which released in the same month as WoW already has three expansions out, with a fourth announced for November 2007. By the time WoW gets out it's second expansion, EQ2 will be close to it's fifth. Blizzard will argue that the quality of their expansions is such that it takes so long to get them out. But I'm argueing that you can't concentrate on quality and totally forget about quantity. The quantity of content in TBC simply wasn't enough for 16 months, and the announcement for WotLK don't sound as if that expansion will be sufficient to keep us occupied until the third expansion comes out end of 2009. For all it's faults, the greater experience of SOE in maintaining their games with expansions really is showing here. Blizzard says that you can't simply hire a bunch of people to create more content, because of management and quality control issues. But I say that then maybe they'll need to streamline their management and quality control systems. If other companies can create enough content for 12 months of the year, I don't see why Blizzard can't do it.

Wrath of the Lich King will be a huge success, and millions of people will buy it. But what kind of a business model is based on resubscriptions, instead of customer retention? If you keep your customers busy only for a part of the year, and let them wander off in the rest of the time, sooner or later the customer is going to find the next big thing and won't be coming back. If this continues we are heading for MMORPG calendar in which clever companies release their games always half a year after the WoW expansions. I haven't got a clue how close Warhammer Online is to completion, but they might want to do their release in Q4 2008 and get double bonus for christmas season and the annual WoW expansion slump.

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