Blizzard wants yearly World of Warcraft expansions

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Blizzard wants yearly World of Warcraft expansions

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, World of Warcraft's Lead Systems Designer, dropped a key hint into the inner workings of Blizzard's mindset concerning the future of WoW. In an interview with DigitalSpy published this morning, Ghostcrawler said:

We really want to get to a cadence where we can release expansions more quickly. Once a year I think would be a good rate. I think the best thing we can do for new players is to keep coming out with regular content updates.

That's quite the interesting tidbit. Previously Blizzard has produced about one expansion every other year, and it seems that they want to double the rate. Ghostcrawler also reiterates in the article something that he's said before: patches don't bring back players, expansions do.

This push for more expansions isn't completely surprising given a few facts:
  • Blizzard has increased the size of the WoW team substantially after diverting resources away from its next generation MMO Titan.
  • Subscription numbers continue to drop, despite the recent apparent leveling off
  • Activision-Blizzard has taken on a lot of debt from their split with Vivendi (and while such debt is normal, it still needs to be dealt with)
  • The MMO market is going to be shaken up a bit with the release of the Elder Scrolls MMO, one of the few universes that has the depth and fanbase to rival WoW
If Blizzard can continue to push out new expansion-level content and changes, it will be good for business and their bottom line. Further, it will help insulate them from changes in the MMO market and the short attention span of the MMO playerbase that jumps around from one game to the next. Blizzard needs to be careful, however, to not just turn what should be patches into expansions. It won't do them any good to release content as an expansion that should be released as a major patch.

Of course, we need to keep in mind that this is just what Ghostcrawler/Blizzard thinks is a good rate. There is no guarantee this will actually happen. However such statements to the public are also not made lightly.
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