I've been thinking a lot lately about the future of WoW and how a game company will need to adapt to continue to grow an eight-year old game. This is entirely new territory for a blockbuster franchise, and Blizzard needs to be its stewards. A large part of this stewardship is how the game's major updates will get rolled out. Now I'm not talking about the pomp and circumstance that comes with a BlizzCon, but the actual content of the updates and how it relates to the event of BlizzCon.
A good example of a lot of pageantry but little (end-game, at least) content was what happened with Cataclysm. There was gigantic roll out of the expansion -- probably Blizzard's best. Designers had their ideas lined up, artists had the major artwork done, and the story was known from the outset. There wasn't much to be left to the imagination after BlizzCon, and that's okay. But then the title released and the end game didn't live up to expectations. So while BlizzCon was epic, the good feelings didn't last.
What's important for Blizzard at this year's BlizzCon is to make those good feeling last. The community needs to be reinvigorated about the game. There needs to be substantial reasons why we should continue stomping around Azeroth, fighting and working our way towards the end goal (whatever that is in an MMO). A new expansion will do this, of course, but it can't just be another run of the mill expansion. It needs to be something cataclysmic (little c).
So what does Blizzard need to do to make this expansion and the announcement happen? What do they need to do to translate the excitement and the interest of BlizzCon to the game's long term stewardship? How will Blizzard make BlizzCon epic?