As is their bi-annual tradition, Blizzard has announced a new expansion for World of Warcraft, entitled Legion. It’s the sixth full expansion for the game, which is somehow still going relatively strong heading into its twelfth year of existence. Another new continent, the Broken Isles, is the focal point of a new demonic invasion of Azeroth, and it looks like Gul'dan is bringing back Illidan to ensure that everyone's preparations are thoroughly mocked. You can check out the official website for the game here.
The main features:
- Level cap will be raised to 110.
- New Honor System to roll with in PVP.
- Artifact weapons will finally be implemented, with what look like some extensive customization for weapons like Ashbringer.
- New class: The Demon Hunter. Apparently only Night Elves and Blood Elves will be able to choose it.
- We'll finally dig into the Emerald Dream/Emerald Nightmare in some form.
- Each class will get its own headquarters called an Order Hall, only available to members of that class.
it's not a tremendous surprise to see Blizzard going back to one of its most popular and important villains, as the game has been rapidly losing subscribers over the course of Warlords of Draenor. WoW is still a gorilla when it comes to the subscription-based MMO game, with around 5.6 million subscribers as of Blizzard's last earnings call to investors. However, that number is drastically lower than the 10 million subs Blizzard announced shortly after Warlords of Draenor launches last year, and the game looks to have lost around 1.5 million subs since their last public statement on subscription numbers in March. (The chart here gives a good overview of WoW's subscriber base over the last decade.) It’s an odd business to be in when you can lose more subscribers in a financial quarter than most MMOs will ever have in their entire lifespan and still be considered to be doing relatively fine.
Blizzard has said for a while now that they’ve been aiming to reduce the amount of time between expansions, with a former lead designer stating a while back that "once a year I think would be a good rate." They haven’t actually been able to deliver on those promises, though, with most recent expansions seeing three or four content patches in their first year, and then a long lull of a year or so without fresh content until the release of the next expansion. It's natural to see a loss of subscribers during that time, but Draenor's numbers have taken that trend to an extreme that one can assume is a bit disconcerting for Blizzard.
Hopefully the relatively slim pickings in Draenor mean that they’ve been cranking away on the new expansion and we won’t have to wait another year to see its release. It seems likely that it'll be tied into the press run-up for the Warcraft movie that's set to hit theaters in June of next year, though, so current subscribers might just have to face another 8 to 10 months of taking Archimonde down before heading on to new adventures.
Blizzard's press conference is still ongoing, so we'll update this with any other pertinent information when it's concluded.