Final Tier Lengths: Still a WiP?
Are Blizzard doing any better at shortening the lengthy raid tiers at the end of every expansion? The evidence is damning…
Have a look at that header graphic. I’ve reproduced it below, along with a bar chart for your edification, courtesy of @elvinelol on Twitter:
435 days for Hellfire Citadel, by the time Legion launches, 6 days longer than the 429 days of Siege of Orgrimmar.
Since Vanilla, and with the exception of Dragon Soul, expansion end raids have consistently increased in duration, from 209 days (7 months) to the now 14+ months of recent expansions:
- Vanilla: Naxxramas – 209 days (7 months)
- Burning Crusade: Sunwell – 230 (8)
- Wrath: ICC – 364 (12)
- Cata: Dragon Soul – 301 (10)
- Mists: Siege of Orgrimmar – 429 (~14)
- Warlords: Hellfire Citadel – 435 (>14)
Blizzard, as we all know, have been promising to increase the production speed of expansions since at least Wrath. However it appears that promises like this are putting more pressure on the devs, which, ironically, ends with results contrary to the initial promises.
Personally, I much prefer a 2 year expansion cycle, with 3 raid tiers:
- x.0: Launch Day – Raid Tier 1.
- x.1: Three months later – 1st Minor Patch for features & systems
- x.2: Eight months in – Raid Tier 2.
- x.3: Three months later – 2nd Minor Patch for features & systems
- x.4: Sixteen months in – Raid Tier 3.
That leaves a final raid tier as current content for 8 months, 2 of which would be pre-patch for the following expansion.
I think that would work perfectly fine. The clamour from players for faster expansions I think is actually more of a desire for regular content both across and between expansions, not faster expansions per se.
If end tiers were 6-8 months long, including pre-patches for following expansions to give players a then familiar raid tier to bed class changes in with, then I think players as a whole would be pretty damned happy with that.
2 years is a solid time to spend in an expansion. It doesn’t rush raid tiers, it allows the lore of the expansion time to develop more naturally, whilst giving plenty of time for minor patches to bed in with additional system changes or features.
Most importantly it means we’re not stuck with final raid tiers that last 14 months or longer.
With World of Warcraft aging and getting towards that final expansion, it’s high time for Blizzard to throw in the towel and settle on a rational release schedule, such as the one I’ve suggested above.
It would serve Blizzard as a developer better in the long-term with regards to player retention and income stability, and would hopefully minimise the sort of population crash that Warlords saw over the course of 2015, falling as it did from 10m+ players to less than 4m.