WoW: Warlords of Draenor and subscription games in 2014

While thinking over a comment for Wilhelm’s list of 2014 MMOs, I began thinking about World of Warcraft and the Warlords of Draenor expansion. In  a separate post he’d predicted that Draenor will ship in September of this year. That seems entirely reasonable as Blizzard has favoured an autumn or winter release date for all of WoW’s expansions to date.

In thinking about the games I’ll play this year, I also am certain I will not be subscribed to World of Warcraft the entire year. Ghostcrawler stated  in interview that the Timeless Isle patch (5.4) was the last content patch except for the customary pre-expansion patch near to the launch:

Patch 5.4 is the last content patch, but we will release bug fixes and balancing patches after that as usual. A preview content patch will also be released pre-expansion. Blizzcon is a good time to tell something about that.

That’s pretty crazy given the current overcrowded MMO market, it’s nothing new for Blizzard, but in previous expansion cycles they didn’t have so many competing MMOs with faster update cycles. The main point here is not the specific month interval between patches but that World of Warcraft is a bit of an anomaly in that the playerbase are essentially told to “stick it” at the end of a patch cycle and to wait ages for new content of the expansion. For example the gap between September 2011 (Cataclysm) and August 2012 (launch of Pandaria) was a very long time for players to be repeating the same content. Likewise now we’re faced with potentially a year between the launch of patch 5.4 (September 2013) and the as-yet-unannounced launch date for Draenor (Wilhelm speculated Sept 2014 in the linked post above).

I have some more stuff to do in Pandaria before I’m done with the expansion, such as the legendary cloak grind and finishing off the last few bits of cooking mastery. I can’t see that taking me much past February or March though. The inevitable gear reset from Draenor’s quest rewards also deadens any desire to ‘gear up’ my characters beyond the bare minimum to see the current tier of content. If it weren’t for the requirement to grind various raiding tokens for the cloak I would have been happy with one complete run of each raid just to see the story elements contained in each.

In my recent post about games for 2014, I mentioned that the subscription model is an impediment to my wanting to try certain upcoming games. I think this applies equally to older games though. Buying game time in blocks of months doesn’t seem that sensible anymore as I’m not likely to get my “money’s worth”. It’s no issue with hybrid games (like LOTRO or EQ2) since I can drop the sub as desired and still play sporadically as a free-to-play player. But the holdouts of subscription-only access (WoW, FFXIV, upcoming Wildstar and Elder Scrolls) do not seem attractive anymore. There’s been some suggestions on the blogosphere that 2014 will herald a “return of the sub” – given that several high-profile games are launching sub-only. I remain skeptical that such games will prosper under that model beyond the rush of the launch-day zerg. I suspect we’ll see more free to play conversions coming in the year ahead.

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3 Responses to WoW: Warlords of Draenor and subscription games in 2014

  1. Jonny 5iVe says:

    “The inevitable gear reset from Draenor’s quest rewards also deadens any desire to ‘gear up’ my characters beyond the bare minimum to see the current tier of content.”

    Did you forget about the item squish?

    The whole point about it is to deaden the sudden jump that’s experienced between expansions and some patches, so gear progression continues in a much more linear fashion.

    Obviously better gear is still better, but ultimately, you’re level 575 epics are likely to see you through a lot of the expansions content. At the very least not being immediately replaced by level 91 greens.

    I can’t find the source of this, but I read a dev blog about the legendary cloaks, and that they’re not really “legendary” if they’re immediately replaced by the first green that pops up. So they wanted to totally smooth out the gear treadmill.

    So yeah… I think gearing up in MoP will serve you much better in the next expansion(s) compared to those previously encountered.

    As an aside, I imagine that they also noticed that their subscription figures always took a dive about 3 months before an expansion dropped (thus why they leave it as late as possible to announce such details)… Not necessarily because people were bored, or weren’t having a good time, but because the very essence of WoW is about running the gear treadmill. If you know that all the gear you’re about to have showered upon you is twice as good as an epic you spent months attempting to obtain, then people don’t bother. This change is set to remedy that.

    • Telwyn says:

      So one in my guild has mentioned it should last longer than purple gear has with past expansions, if so that’s a good thing. As for the legendary cloak, I’ve hit the PVP stage and I truly abhor PVP, it’s just something I find 100% unenjoyable so I may be at a roadblock now, I can grind different tokens for weeks but having to win two PVP battlegrounds with no PVP gear and no experience at playing my class in that environment is just a horrible design decision from Blizzard :-/

      • Jonny 5iVe says:

        Word to the wise. Tol Barad and Wintergrasp. Both can be queued for as soon as you login. Both will allow you to remain in the queue whilst you do BG’s, LFR, etc., and both provide instant teleportation to and from the venue.

        The best part about it?

        No one is usually there. Victory takes about 15 minutes each, SOLO, and the reward is around 500 honor for every event. They’re on a c.2 and a half hour timer, and can be repeated as many times as you want.

        What that means?

        In a 5 hour play session, you can make around 2,000 honor for less than an hours “work”.

        On my server I gather a couple of guildies to do it with me to make it go muuuch faster. We can be done in about 7 mins with 5 people. That’s less than 30 minutes work for 2,000 honor. By far the easiest way to gear up for pvp.

        A piece of season 14 gear is about 2,000 honor. So you can get all 5 pieces of the set for about 150 minutes of work.

        I’m surprised that more people don’t know/do this. On my server at least (Silvermoon-EU – Alliance), I’m normally the only person there. I managed to gear up my rogue in the full season 14 set in a day and a half, without ever stepping foot in a battleground.

        As season 14 gear is item level 522, it’s also a really simple way to gear up for SoO LFR. You won’t be anywhere near optimum, but at least you can queue and start getting some much better PvE gear.

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