|2012's Top Holiday Destination. OFFICIAL.|
I have already said (in certain places) that I predict a July release date for the Expansion, at which many people have scoffed. Last Thursday night this included my Husband, who challenged me outright to explain my reasoning, and so I did. When I was done he leaned back in his PC chair, looked at me, and gave me a look that I don't see that often. It was the 'yes actually you might have a point there' look. If he thinks I might have a point, I'm confident enough to share with the group.
Here's what I told him.
The Loading Screen music is done. This means, by extension, that the Official Soundtrack is written and recorded, as that initial eight minutes is a 'mash up' of all the main themes we'll hear in zones. This indicates that the 'atmospheric' side of the game is pretty well advanced.
I also mentioned that as soon as we start seeing Panda voices, then I'd say things are really moving along. I notice the two Racial Leaders have their voice emotes in game as of Friday morning... :D
Recipes are normally some of the last items to be added to the game files. Friday's beta push sees them in droves, and although not all of the items to make them actually exist, this give a clear indicator Blizzard is working to ensure that the crafting side of the game is ready to go.
However, we've seen no Raid Content, and this is normally a fairly major part of the testing process... or at least it used to be. Firelands and Dragon Soul however underwent an awful lot of internal testing and relatively little 'live' testing before we saw either of those. I am going to guess that Blizzard intends to keep a lot of this closer to their chests than they have before and we will see as little if not less testing than has been previously offered. This is how I outlined what I'd consider the progress will be up to my theoretical release date:
MAY: Diablo 3 releases on the 15th and as everyone who had a Free Pass to beta also gets a copy of this game, I'd expect to see a significant drop of in testers, with only those committed to levelling and participating remaining, which means that Blizzard will want to get as much feedback as possible prior to that point. I'd also expect to see the game in a shippable working state by the end of May.
JUNE: Raid testing, further tweaking, with the event to link Cata and Pandas starting at the end of June.
JULY. Hype. Buildup. Blizzard work out what will be in the post expansion patch. BANG.
However, there is one question that remains: why launch in the middle of the Summer? Summer's normally an awful time for the game, with no-one around to play or fill raids. However, if Blizzard chose to release in July, with the Pet Battles alone as an incentive, I think people would play. In fact, I think they'd do it in their droves, and I think this may be a key that Blizzard is counting on. I think Blizzard are one of the few companies that could release a game when they wanted and not have to worry about people not buying it. Take up is never going to be an issue when you have given a million people the chance to beta, when you know all those people have already paid subs for a year to your existing franchise to have a chance to see your new ideas first.
I'm staying with this, and if I'm wrong I may well be forfeiting something as a result. We will see. For now, I say that Mists of Pandaria releases July 24th 2012.
You'll get to book your own release date starting tomorrow.