For the last few years, while World of Warcraft subscribers slowly declined outside of the months surrounding expansions, Blizzard fans began to expect an announcement about when Project Titan would arrive to replace the decade old MMO. All that changed earlier this year when Blizzard revealed that Project Titan was dead and World of Warcraft once again became the studio’s only MMO option for the foreseeable future. As the game approaches its 10-year anniversary this month, Blizzard is comfortable saying that the world of Azeroth isn’t going offline anytime soon.
In just a few weeks, Blizzard will release the Warlords of Draenor expansion and take Azeroth citizen’s back in time to battle some of the baddest Orcs that ever were. Although we were unimpressed with our first Warlords experience, Blizzard has seen a recent spike in subscribers in anticipation of the expansion’s launch. The studio doesn’t intend to ever reach the kind of subscription totals it saw at the game’s peak, but Blizzard has no doubt that we’ll be celebrating the game’s 20th anniversary ten years from today.
Lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas discussed the game’s future with CNET…
“I definitely can’t tell you what our 20th anniversary is going to be. I can tell you there is definitely going to be one. I have no doubt saying that. We’re definitely planning into the future, talking about what the next expansion is going to be, and what the one after that is going to be, just in terms of big picture storylines, how can we start setting things up now, where do we want the game to go. Ultimately it’s all one step at a time.”
Earlier this year, Blizzard suggested it was interested in replacing WoW’s annual big patches with more frequent expansions, so we will be interested to see if that is part of the company’s ten-year plan. If Blizz plans to release the Warlords followup in 2015, then it seems likely that the company would want to announce that project at BlizzCon 2014, which is right around the corner.
Although the game has received some very impressive improvements to textures and character models for the Warlords expansion, it is still always going to feel dated compared to newer MMOs being released. That said, unlike most new MMOs, WoW still has a loyal enough subscription base to remain profitable while requiring a $15 per month fee. Even if the player base remains the same and sees no more growth, that revenue is enough to keep the servers alive and well for at least a decade.
Although the Lich King story has been fully explored, there is still plenty of Warcraft lore to mine for more story ideas for future expansions. If Warlords is the start of a new arc, we will be interested to see how much further WoW explores the events and characters of Warcraft 2 and other past events before starting to create new characters and move in a different direction.
If WoW really does stick around until 2024, what could the game do to keep you interested? New classes? A new faction? Additional races? Let us know in the comments.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13, 2014.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.