Thursday, February 06, 2014

Crystal Ball

Favourite Shirt. Without exception.

Right then. About Season 14 ending...

The future's difficult, you see. Once you tie yourself to a timescale and don't deliver, people get grumpy and wander off muttering about commitment and take their hard earned money elsewhere. Not committing is an artform, the craft of Soon [TM] only successfully achieved by the most accomplished of organisations. In the case of Season 14 coming to an end and the potentials it creates... well, let's imagine Warcraft as a giant, complex puzzle of possibilities and outcomes at this particular moment in time, shall we?

Your gaming experience. May not be this well organised.

The end of Season 14 has a number of knock-on possibilities, which we can extrapolate from previous historical data. Normally, once a PvP Season concludes an associated patch is deployed, in which the new information for said event resides. This patch, 5.4.7, is notable not simply for the Season 15 items, but includes the much-anticipated data to allow players to create 'out of the box' L90's, which is one of the major selling points associated with the pre-purchase of Warlords of Draenor. It is, of course, quite simple to 'switch off' data so it can't be seen by players until required, but many people are quietly muttering into their faction-specific hoodies that Soon [TM] really cannot afford to be that long in coming. Blizzard made a huge deal of quicker expansions and patched Pandaria with that mindset. There are many, many other things to distract players right now: Wildstar, The Elder Scrolls, Everquest Landmark, and if Blizzard want to maintain their Status of #1 Toy in the Box... well, nothing says 'I Love You' like a massively grand gesture. Nothing says 'we're still here' than Parking the Beta in the middle of the park and making Jose Mourinho accuse you of playing 19th Century Videogames.

If Season 14 ends in two weeks (and I think we can safely assume that it will), the clock is ticking.

Couple more bumps and we're hauling the mail...

Brian Holinka made some news out of his assertion of how long a PvP Season should be when the end of S14 was initially announced, with good reason: because when S15 ends, we get Warlords, and so those timings become considerably more significant in keeping the Jenga Tower of Possibilities standing right until the end. Whether we only get 20 weeks or as many as 30 for the season, we can at least assert some kind of control on the future. Before we could only assume that we'd see it THIS YEAR. Now we have a better idea of when, assuming some basic principles using historical data is not beyond the realm of possibility.

With thanks to @Sivation on Twitter for number crunching :D

I'll leave you to get out the slide rules and postulate your own hypotheses from this, because that's the great thing about numbers. They can, if you're clever, be made to do all sorts of things they don't appear to be capable of, if you're intelligent enough to manipulate the data. However, often it's not length that counts, but breadth. [*]  Doing stuff properly should take ages, after all...

However, all this postulating and experimenting is for naught without the value and understanding of context.

Today at 1.30pm US Pacific Time (9.30pm GMT if I've done the sums correctly) Activison Blizzard will announce their 4th Quarter 2013 results to anyone listening. My good friend Rho at Realm Podcast has postulated that this may then be the catalyst for some major movement of arses on Blizzard's front. Historically it has also been established that Thursday is a 'good day' to begin Betas, but again we can only see so much in the murky crystal ball that is The Future of Warcraft.

The only people that really know are Blizzard, and they continue to say nothing.

As Mr O. Wilde once said: the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. People will discuss these numbers regardless of the financial implications, because people continue to use Blizzard as a marker, a yardstick, the last bastion of subscription-based consistency. Whether bad figures would prompt a start to a Beta... I'd say good figures could be just as likely to do the same thing. The thing is, it is coming, yes it is. Look, over there in the distance, that cloud of dust and noise, if you put your ear to the ground you can feel the vibration of the earth, you just can't *quite* work out how far away it is. By the time you have it'll be on top of you and all you'll have to show for your trouble is some hoof prints on your shirt and a tumbleweed makeover.

When the Beta arrives, you'll know about it. Until then, go do something worthwhile.


[*] No, that's just your dirty mind. STOP IT.

1 comment:

Joar said...

Rho's speculation about the potential beta release this week as a possible distraction from expected declining subscriber numbers is not a bad one. Folks need to keep in mind that there's a lot more going on at Activision / Blizzard than just WoW. At the moment, the massive popularity of Skylanders has a lot more impact on their bottom line than just about anything that could happen with our favorite game.

Fortunately, there's still a lot more content to be experienced in the game, so I don't think it'll quite be the same as running Dragon Soul over and over and over and over and over..../shudder. I still need to grind out dinosaur bones for my white raptor! And I'm still not exalted with Nat Pagle. OK, maybe Dragon Soul wasn't all that bad.

But I hope you guys are right and the Beta is shortly upon us.