Blizzard Announces Shadowlands Expansion Is Delayed

 

             So chances are if you are a World of Warcraft player you have heard about the recent announcement from the development team to delay Shadowlands. This is big news, even for people outside the more die-hard circles since Blizzard delaying an expansion post the announcement of the release date is not something that is generally done. But why the delay? And what does this mean for the game as a whole?

            According to a post from the executive producer of WoW, John Hight, much of Shadowlands has reached a satisfactory stage of development. The delay is a direct result of the feedback they have been receiving from the test players. World of Warcraft fans are dedicated to their game, spending hundreds of dollars on the game, microtransactions and even accounts and World ofWarcraft gold.  The scores that Shadowlands received were by far the lowest in the franchise’s history.

Shadowlands has been running the beta for a little while now, which is actually where we are getting most of the information about the upcoming release. And the feedback Blizzard has been getting from these players, and to a lesser extent, the rumors circulating the internet is that the late game of Shadowlands is not as polished they would like it. A delay of about two months so that they can get everything smoothed out and make sure they are delivering a product that will be fun to play and worthwhile addition. Hight also notes that the pandemic did alter expectations when it came to the developers working from home, which isn’t surprising considering many people’s everyday lives have been altered in some way or another.

            This is a surprise from a historical standpoint, delays post-announcement being extremely rare, but not a huge surprise if you have been following the information coming out about and around Shadowlands. Many players express concerns about the extreme unbalancing that will result from the post-campaign covenant content and what that will do to many of the existing viable builds. Further, the beta players talking about the unbalancing on a visible level comes to no surprise to people who have been reading about the upcoming changes and crunching the numbers. Custom powers for each class covenant combination plus a covenant specific additional power meant that many builds could become obsolete and/or covenants becoming very specifically class flooded. This, in turn, makes parties a lot more difficult to form and the changes ripple even more into the balance of gameplay from there. Many people speculated that some serious retooling to how the Shadowlands’ covenants operate was going to become extremely necessary post-launch when these issues became more exploitable and a much bigger problem to other players.

            But the retooling didn’t happen after, it came before, much to many people’s surprise. Players pointed out their concerns and the development team responded and delayed the launch to fix the problem. What a genuine breath of fresh air in gaming media. And the consensus seems to be just that. We aren’t seeing anger or sadness at the delay, but instead gratitude for the developers taking their time to deliver a finished and polished product. That is also a bit surprising, knowing the fickleness of the internet gaming community, but hey we won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

            Now, this good spirit may also coincide with the announcement that, as a result of the expansions delay, the pre-expansion patch will actually be released sooner. This means that the level and experience retooling, as well as the Halloween special content, will be dropping at the same time. And while the take on the level squish might be a bit more mixed, many are happy to hear about the special holiday content coming early to tide them over until the new launch date. It is likely that there won’t be enough content in the patch to satisfy voracious players for the two months of additional time, but silver linings are important when receiving bad news, right?

            One point of concern, though, is that the only date of release we are given for the delay is “later this year”. Many people have been speculating that this means a couple of months, since, well, this isn’t much left in the year. But considering that this delay was announced less than a month before the release date, many people don’t necessarily trust the vagueness of the announcement or the word of Blizzard in general.

            Not everyone is necessarily thrilled about the announcement, despite the majority being generally positive about the choice. Many players are frustrated by the continuation of the current content, which had a lukewarm reception from fans at best. Some people are pretty upset as they scheduled around the release, using their vacation hours so they would have time to immerse themselves in the new expansion. Some players who chose to buy World of Warcraft accounts in anticipation of this release were left hanging.  Blizzard seems to be trying to curb the negative backlash from the announcement early. Emails were sent out to anyone who pre-ordered Shadowlands after the announcement was made and they contained instructions on processing a refund if the buyer desired.

             Nipping this one in the bud seems like a safe mood for Blizzard considering an earlier fiasco involving the Warcraft franchise and the all-time lowest score ever obtained on meta-critic. No publicity is bad publicity doesn’t apply to a score of .6 out of 10 (no, that period is not a typo.)

            Maybe these criticisms are earned just as well. Most of the positive comments acknowledge that Blizzard made the right call with the delay but is that worthy of praise. Maybe it says more about the current climate of game production where a triple-A game producer and key figures of the industry can be lauded for simply doing something relatively sensible and considerate of their customer base. It is a fairly low bar that we are allowing Blizzard to reach and while they might not deserve condemnation for making this choice it is also fair to say that what they are doing isn’t praiseworthy either. It’s just good business, which should be what is expected.

            For now, WoW players have more time to get used to the new level system before launch as well as some zombie-centric bonus plot to enjoy and we hope that is fun for everyone while we wait just a little longer to see what Shadowlands has in store for us.  Despite this delay, we are still buying WoW accounts.  To sell your World of Warcraft account, simply fill out one of our sell forms to receive our offer. 



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