I'm on the fence about the schedule for WoW's upcoming expansion and 10th Anniversary celebrations. I've long since ceased to make purchasing decisions a matter of principle, but I am concerned and a bit puzzled by the rushed pace that the calendar seems to be dictating.
WoW's fifth expansion has taken so long to produce that it has bumped into the game's 10th anniversary. An announcement this week clarified how the schedule will work - the expansion launches on November 13th, the anniversary window begins on November 21st, and the last opportunity to get the goodies will be on January 6th.
The centerpiece of the festivities is a revamped level 100 version of the classic Molten Core raid from WoW's launch. Getting there will require that players purchase the expansion box - at an increased price of $50 compared to past $40 boxes - and gain the ten new levels in just under eight weeks. (The preceding 90 levels are a moot point, as the new box includes one instant level 90 character upgrade credit.) On a shallow level, this is a way to sell boxes and game time, but I wonder if this was a missed opportunity.
I sat out Pandaria's launch due to newborn, and thus incidentally got the expansion box for half off on Black Friday and got to experience the game with the 5.0 jitters polished out. While I'm not opposed on principle to paying full price and showing up at launch, I probably won't enjoy the journey nearly as much with the deadline. I also don't understand why it's in Blizzard's best interest to rush players to the new max level before month two of the new expansion cycle when they have yet to release an expansion in under 22 months.
Finally, there's the nostalgia factor. The 10th anniversary should have been an opportunity to bring back millions of former players to see what Blizzard has done with the game in their absence. Perhaps the cynical math says that $65 for the box and a month of game time is the best outcome Blizzard can expect from these customers. Otherwise it would seem like slapping a large upfront purchase and a deadline is not the best on-ramp for people who may be one or more expansions behind the times. Does it really make sense to take players who last saw their characters three talent overhauls ago, catapult them past all the current expansions, and rush them through the new one, landing them right back at the endgame that may have driven them from the game in the first place?
If anything, I'm thinking I might enjoy resubscribing for a month or two now with no particular pressure to do anything but play around in Azeroth since everything meaningful will be reset in two short months anyway. There are pets to battle, stories to finish, mounts and achievements to collect, and any number of other things that I'll be rushing past if I do take part in the expansion rush.