Wednesday, September 08, 2010

One Week from a Release Date Announcement?

"Gosh, this sounds familiar" was a feature of the talk on WoW-Twitter when the Alpha was first announced. It appeared that the start of the Catacysm F&F Alpha closely coincided with the Wrath of the Lich King Alpha leak 2 years earlier - make that 2 years to the week earlier. Speculation then run rampant - "How long will the Alpha Last?", "When will we get the Beta?", "What does this mean for the release date?" etc. but no-one really had much of a clue.

If Cataclysm was following Wrath's development timetable then the Alpha turned into the Beta somewhat earlier than ones expectation. This has been explained away as a rush due to poor Alpha feedback and widespread information leaks, far more widespread than Wrath, which I suppose is a reasonable rationalisation. Beta start dates are small beans to our prospective Nostradamus's though as the real date of contention is the release date, and for those who want to believe that Cataclysm is mirroring Wrath's development schedule the next week or so is a key milestone. The release date of Wrath of the Lich King was announced on the 15th of September (for true obsessives this was the 3rd Monday in September), 2 months prior to the 13th November launch. If the smart money of a mid-November release is correct then a announcement may be imminent.

If Cataclysm is to be mid-November then we may or may not see 4.0 go live about one month before that date. When 3.0 was launched the devs. still had a full month to add to and polish Northrend before anyone would step foot there, whereas the whole of Azeroth is being redeveloped in this latest expansion. Putting unfinished zones which aren't absolutely new (such as Winterspring) off-limits will be much more difficult to justify to the subscriber base, and so its' live date will be much more fluid. Furthermore, holding off on launching 4.0 till new 80+ content is released makes a lot of sense; class balance could well be shot to hell, making top-tier Wrath raiding content nigh-on impossible.

Hey, it could happen :P

And with that rampant speculation out the way, go and enjoy the Battle for Gnomeregan/Fall of Zalazane.

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