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With World of Warcraft: Shadowlands launching in a couple of days, November 23, 2020 to be precise, you may want to check out the latest “Survival Guide” video that goes over the expansion’s key features and introduces some of its challenges. Here it is:
Then, you may also want to read this Eurogamer interview that revolves around Blizzard’s attempts to revamp WoW’s endgame. Here’s an excerpt:
Going into Shadowlands, the WOW team knew these endgame progression systems had a place in the game and that there was a real appetite for them among players. But they also knew that they hadn't nailed them yet. In fact, as Hight acknowledges, they realised they had temporarily forgotten a vital principle of player motivation in implementing these systems in the first place.
"I think part of what we learn - or we relearn, I guess - is players want a sense of achievement, a sense of accomplishment. And so, having kind of infinite progression in the Artifact system, they didn't have that sense of fulfillment, right? It's sort of just chasing this number that gets bigger and bigger. And so we want to move away from that in Shadowlands."
There’s also this GamesIndustry.biz interview that sheds some light on Blizzard's future plans:
"I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see more games heading towards a subscription service," he says. "Things like Battle Pass are kind of a hybrid form of a subscription. And look at streaming services now, Netflix and Amazon Prime, Disney Plus -- they're all moving to a subscription model. So I think we're ready to welcome the gaming industry to this innovative, new-angled way of monetizing games."
That said, Blizzard did recently make one major change to its subscription offering: last year it added World of Warcraft: Classic to that subscription without adding an extra charge.
Hight says that while Classic was far more popular than anyone at Blizzard expected, they also have found that one version of World of Warcraft is not cannibalizing the other -- rather, there's not much of overlap at all between people swapping between the two, and both communities are healthy enough he feels comfortable releasing major content updates (such as upcoming raids) in both games around the same time.
It's also not something that's putting a strain on the World of Warcraft team to support. Though both games share the same server technology, each game is now run by a separate team, and Hight says Blizzard is currently hiring more developers in an effort to better smooth gaps between content releases and have more consistent launches.