Besides the positive experience going on with the expansion, there's a couple other reasons for this:
First, there is no other AAA MMORPG out there, nor one on the horizon. Star Wars is having a crisis of it's own (one that I really hope gets fixed), and Guild Wars 2 seems to be having the typical problem Cataclysm had -- lack of end game and reason to continue heavily beyond leveling. The Secret World, which was great, has somehow failed to attract the critical mass of players it needs to become a viral hit. So we're left with WoW again as the only major player in this sphere, and that in itself will lead many people back with the realization that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Second, as I just alluded to, the strong end game component of Mists is going to make keeping the subscription active longer an attractive idea for many people. This is going to correlate to higher numbers overall when such benchmarks are taken. If more people keep playing longer, and more people are signing on because of the word of mouth and the lack of options, then total subscription numbers will go up at a high rate.
Finally, there is nothing major being released that will draw WoW player's attention away. There is no Skyrim or Star Wars this year (as there was last year when the subscription numbers dropped). There is no Diablo III, and there isn't a major genre busting release on the scale of WoW that we're expecting. Quite simply, the time is ripe for WoW's engagement to go up.
So at the end of the day, or rather at the end of the year ... if Blizzard has done the end game right (for the masses) ... then I fully expect WoW's numbers to jump.
And if I can go out on a limb: I wouldn't be surprised if they jump big.
I'm enjoying the new quest rewards that ONLY apply to my class (no more strength plate for this druid!), but it seems the system only gives me gear for my active specialization. That's nice, but I level feral and dungeon/raid resto. How does Blizzard envision us gearing up our non-leveling specs for dungeons without letting a lot of players die as we *slowly* get dungeon gear?
Hit up the "Adventuring Supplies" NPCs near a major quest hub. They've got all the off spec gear you'll need.
I also want to be sure that I mention people shouldn't place major emphasis on gear right now. It's important, for sure, but skill plays a larger factor in dungeon running than gear does. Good players in offset greens and blues are going to rock the heroics like no one's business.
Q4tQ: what's the loot reset timer on the MoP world bosses? We downed the Sha 2x in one day and only got loot (cache or gear) for the first down. Is it a daily reset or a weekly one? Or were we bugged?
Once a week, just like raid bosses and LFR.
With the dailies limit removed and there being so much to do at 90, are there any addons, prefer that over Alt-Tabbing, that give a list of all the dailies (at least the currently available ones) in Pandaria?
The dailies are set by the server, so there's no way to tell what dailies are available until you hit up the quest givers and find out. It'd be nice though if Blizzard exposed this, but I kind of doubt it ... it's part of the way they're getting you out into the world more (which I love, by the way).
Davy gave some snark:
Such hyperboles. Do you ever play any other game than WoW, Mr. Matthew Rossi? My guess is no.
Reality is yes.
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