Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WoW Patch Date Prediction.

UPDATE: So um yeah I was completely wrong on this one. On the bright side, we got the patch a month earlier, so: yay, fun!

3.2 will not be released until September.

How do I know this? Well, the true answer is that my real name is Jesus H. Nostradamus III, Esq. and I am in possession of both a crystal ball (witches don't keep a good eye out for shoplifters) and a time machine made out of a purple Dodge Omni. But the fake answer I give to the psychiatrist when I'm trying to trick him into releasing me from the mental hospital so I can protect my son from robots from the future: research, and a little bit of thought.

Here's the evidence:

Length of time 3.1 was on PTR: Feb 25 - April 14, 2009. 2 months.
3.1 had Ulduar, 3.2 has a smaller raid instance, but adds a 5-man and a Battleground.

3.2 hit the PTR on June 23rd. If it took the same amount of time as 3.1, it would go live around August 12.

So many are thinking, "3.2 will probably go live in mid-August, right?"

Au contraire. Let's add some more evidence.

Blizzcon 2009: Aug 21-22

Mark my words: there is no way Blizzard will release a patch with a new raid instance just one week before Blizzcon. For one thing, they know hardcore raiders make up a big chunk of Blizzard attendees, and there is no way they, especially those like Ensidia, are going to risk losing world firsts and rankings to attend Blizzcon. Or even server firsts, on a smaller scale. It would be a giant finger to the community. On top of that, they would be busy that week preparing for Blizzcon, and won't have time to deal with post-patch problems or, god forbid, prepare a minor patch to fix bugs. They won't have time to retune encounters on the fly every other day like they did with Ulduar.

Also, a lineup like that doesn't fit with the marketing department's schedule. Blizzcon is a giant marketing opportunity. A patch is a giant marketing opportunity. Any marketer employed by a company like Blizzard is going to know better than to let those two step on each other's toes. From their perspective, a patch would need at least 2 weeks room between it and Blizzcon. So it's either going to come out in early September, or early August. So why not early August?

Here's a reason: Ensidia v Method: July 31-Aug 2
Do you expect me to believe, for even a second, that these two guilds would agree to travel and do an Ulduar-based competition if they had any worry that the patch would come out that week? Not a chance. I would be shocked if these guilds do not have a direct inside contact at Blizzard who can give them confidential patch date estimates so they can free up their schedules. There's no way the patch comes out before August 7th, and since, as we've seen with Ulduar, guilds will be working on hard mode world firsts for months afterwards, there's no way it comes out only 2 weeks before Blizzcon. Need more evidence?

Blizzcon 2005: October 28-29
Surrounding patches:
1.8 Dragons of Nightmare (no new raid instance): October 10
1.7 Rise of the Blood God (ZG released): September 13

So there is a precedent for a patch release 2-3 weeks before a Blizzcon: a patch with no new raid instance. A patch that was so minor it came out less than a month after it's predecessor.

Blizzcon 2007: Aug 3-4
Surrounding patches:
Patch 2.1 The Black Temple: May 22
Patch 2.2 Voice Chat!: September 25 (yes, it took 4 months to do voice chat)

Here we see 2-month windows on either side of Blizzcon.

Blizzcon 2008: October 10-11
Surrounding patches:
Patch 2.4 Fury of the Sunwell: Mar 25
Wrath of the Lich King: November 13

And this one speaks for itself.

But maybe you are thinking to yourself that precedent hardly proves the future. You'd be right. So let's look at more evidence.

How about this official post regarding the removal of the 310% speed mount rewards from Ulduar:

"The rusted and ironbound proto-drake rewards for the normal and heroic Glory of the Ulduar Raider meta achievements will be removed at a future date. We currently do not have an exact date they will be taken out, but it is possible they will be removed when patch 3.2 comes out or at some point after that. When we do decide to remove these mounts we will provide about 1 month of warning so players will have time to make some final attempts."
They promised one month of warning. Warning hasn't been given yet. August 15 is one month from today. Furthermore, I'm betting when they give 1 month warning, they'll time it so they actually estimate we'll have more than that, just so they don't risk a backlash. Expect the warning in the first week of August.


In summary, the evidence points very strongly to an early September release date for patch 3.2.

Plus, I'm part of a psychic hive-mind from the Planet Zargon. HEED ME OR I SHALL DEVOUR YOU, PUNY HUMANS!!!

UPDATE: The two biggest MMO releases of this year, Champions and Aion, are both going on sale in mid-September. If you owned the MMO market, which of the following scenarios would you prefer?

1) New patch releases 2 months before the competitors. By the time the new MMOs hit, your players have done all of your new content and are looking for something new. Your next dose of content is at least two months away in the pipeline. That's long enough for all those people who try to new games to finish their month trial and pay for a subscription.

2) New patch releases 1-2 weeks before the competitors. Your addicted fanbase has to choose between your new content and the new games. Whispers of "sry cant play CO, gotta do my tournament dailies" ring out across the land.

I think the choice is pretty obvious here.

BTW, fun fact:

Warhammer Online release date: September 18, 2008
WoW patch 3.0 release date: October 14, 2008, juuust under 4 weeks later (the better to keep you from subscribing, my dear!). And it bears noting that Blizzard was trying to get this one out earlier, but it was so big that it was delayed.

UPDATE 2: I have to admit this doesn't bode well for my theory. I'm sticking to it until the patch is up, though.


LarĂ­sa said...

I hope SO much that you're right! Want to eat the slimy brain before the new instance arrives...

Hatch said...

Mmmm slimy brain....

That's another reason I think the patch will take a while...there are lots of good guilds out there who haven't gotten around to clearing Ulduar, especially given all the turmoil that summer brings to the raiding scene. The percentage of good raiders who have killed Yogg is shockingly low, and they should get more time. IMO this is due to a whole mix of factors, including the jarring transition from EZ moad naxx to a "real" instance in Ulduar, the summer raiding duldrums, the fracturing of goals between clearing the instance and doing hard modes (how many weeks has your group failed to reach Yogg because you spent hours on FL+X or some other hard mode instead?), and the raw size of the place.

Andrew Gordon said...

It's still not confirmed that the new Proto-Drakes will be removed with 3.2, only that we'll get a month's warning. I think, anyways.

Hatch said...

Definitely true. There has been no confirmation that the drakes will be removed with 3.2, they could be removed later, perhaps even months later.

Far from conclusive on its own, but at least a suggestive piece of evidence.

Molsan said...

Nice analysis! Was fun to read and speculate. I'm guessing the patch will hit us on August 25th.

Kheldul said...

I liked the hypothesis. However, it's Aug 4th.