Thursday, October 19, 2006

Will We Be Seeing You Before Christmas?

It's not the first time I've pondered the release date of World of Warcraft's most recent expansion, The Burning Crusade. It's also not the first time I've gotten frustrated at the general lack of information provided on the game as a whole (despite the NDA [non-disclosure agreement] being lifted at the beta's conception). Blizzard is doing a fine job keeping us on our toes with this one, but one must ask: what's with the lack of information? Does this impact the release date, or is it just some crafty marketing scheme?

These past few weeks, besides the Looking For Group upheaval announcement and some new screenshots, very little has been released about the game. Okay, we have some definitive system specs. Oh, racial traits and a few talent upgrades too. Toss in a few more screenshots, and everything's peachy, right?

From my perspective as a customer, everything does not seem so controlled. This whole lack-of-a-release-date stuff is, for lack of a better term, stalling. Blizzard keeps to its guns about "we can't give a release date until the product is ready", but I feel it's more of a lack of confidence in their final product. Why stall? Well, go wander over to the beta forums, where those testing The Burning Crusade are praising and complaining up pages of threads. The bugs forum looks plenty packed with genuine bugs (quest- and world-related), not subjective ones (such as "Waah, X class sucks with the new change!"). There's still much to be improved with the classes we'll be playing on the way to level 70. All this, and it's about a month from "projected" release.

There's more reasons surrounding release date concerns than the ones stated above, but by now it should be somewhat obvious why I worry. Blizzard is like any other company- they have deadlines they do and don't meet, imperfect products, a horrid customer service department in-game and out- so to a degree, this is expected. At the same time, this has to be the first game I've come across in a while that is packing in a full-fledged addition to a game without a release date... 30 days or so from the predicted release.

So, Blizzard, will you have your expansion pack under my Christmas tree come December 25th? This is effectively the only thing I care about with the upcoming expansion (Rogue talents and spells be damned!), so I await your answer. So do the other millions of players.

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