My personal feeling is it needs to be much sooner than September of next year. I think maybe much much sooner than that. I am thinking we may need to have at least the pre-expansion event in May. I know a lot of people are probably scoffing right now. I have no basis for picking out a date 5 months from now. But it is a gut feeling.
Whether the game is ready by then or not, I think it has to happen. Lets look at a few things. Ok, we all have anticipated the movie coming out and all these new subscribers subbing to the game. So lets say in July we get a whole bunch of new people, they buy Warlords, maybe even pre-purchase legion for the demon hunter and the 100 boost. They play around awhile, start to get their feet on the ground with how the game is played, start to grasp how to play, and in August they toss the whole system out the window with a pre-expansion event? Hey thanks for buying our product, glad to have you on board, oh by the way, we are changing the whole way you play the game next month with the new expansion, oh and don’t worry about the hot fixes and class balancing going on, we do this every 2 years.
The fastest way to drive away a new customer is to put into place a whole new way of doing things. And if you do it when they have only been with you a month? Yeah, that is a bridge you are going to burn to the ground.
For myself? I honestly don’t think I have 9 more months of Draenor in me. I have written off Hellfire raids. As much as I would love to get that Moose, there is no way I am doing Heroic content. And it will continue to be a nagging wound for me for a long time. Even if I do get the Archaeology one later on, that is a thing that really cut deep to me personally.
As I look at it, if I decided today to jump into the raids, 5 months would be more than enough time to complete Normal, maybe even Heroic on at least one character. At a time where the top raiders are looking to go on break, or are selling their Heroic Mount runs, or Mythic kills for any with deep pockets, yes I am looking at you, the group selling the mount run for 150,000g. I think there is some conflict in design goals. Either you are trying to appease those that consume content as fast as you release it and want to go to an 18 month schedule, or you are designing a game that takes 2 years to develop and implement. If you are going to push the release of content so that after a year people are bored and walk away, you will continue to lose subscribers year after year. Once someone leave and tries something new, the odds of them coming back get slimmer every year.
I have played over 6 years now. I know I am not a target audience, I do not fit into any design, or maybe I do, but just have not found what fits me. Every expansion, more an more comes off my to do list, and even worse, more comes off my WANT to do list. If I leave, then you have lost me. I do certainly hope that the September date was just a place holder, an absolute we cannot exceed this end date. Because I do not believe you will have enough die hard fans left at that point to make an expansion beyond Legion fiscally viable. And that would be a very sad day for so many players, both current and past.