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An expansion is additional software (usually made available for retail sale) that adds new content and features to a game.

The content of an expansion is usually not available to anyone who does not own the expansion. Most expansions will not install or run as stand-alone products.

For example, the Frozen Throne expansion for Warcraft III added new campaigns, units, maps, and other content to the game.

Timeframe

It was stated in an interview prior to the first expansion, that concepts for that expansion had been made, and that Blizzard already had enough ideas for 5-6 more. As of 2021, eight have been released.

Blizzard tend to plan expansions far in advance of the current content; in February 2014 (prior to the Warlords of Draenor alpha) the team had already begun planning the next two expansions.[1]

Following the release of World of Warcraft's first expansion in 2007, Blizzard announced plans to release expansions once per year. However, this rate of production was never delivered, with subsequent expansions arriving roughly every 2 years.

Activision Blizzard CFO Thomas Tippl stated at the Citi 2011 Technology Conference that 6 expansions for its most popular titles are planned by 2014, of which 2 of them are to be for World of Warcraft following Cataclysm.[2]

Process

The process of brainstorming a new expansion generally happens 2 expansions ahead which allows for story plot point-making. Typically this happens with a large group and weekly sessions where the developers think of cool things, throw away others. It's a mix of things. They generally think about The World - the world is the main character that you explore and fill with your own story. The first question is "Where do we want to go next?" The story sometimes has to twist and turn to get there (such as Warlords of Draenor). Then they can add features that make sense alongside that world.[3]

Expansions

Warcraft II

Warcraft III

World of Warcraft

How long until the next expansion?

Questionmark-medium.png
This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Blizzard develops everything on Blizzard Time, which is more specifically "Soon". As a player, we want to know now. That being said, you can always look at the past expansion timelines to get a very rough idea.

Expansion Previous Patch Announced Released Announce to Release Patch to Release
Dragonflight Dragonflight February 2022 (9.2.0) April 2022
Shadowlands Shadowlands January 2020 (8.3.0) November 2019 November 2020 12 10
Battle for Azeroth Battle for Azeroth October 2017 (7.3.0) November 2017 August 2018 9 10
Legion Legion June 2015 (6.2.0) August 2015 August 2016 12 14
Warlords of Draenor Warlords of Draenor September 2013 (5.4.0) November 2013 November 2014 12 14
Mists of Pandaria Mists of Pandaria November 2011 (4.3.0) October 2011 September 2012 11 10
Cataclysm Cataclysm December 2009 (3.3.0) August 2009 December 2010 16 12
Wrath of the Lich King Wrath of the Lich King March 2008 (2.4.0) August 2007 November 2008 15 8
Bc icon.gif The Burning Crusade June 2006 (1.11.0)[k 1] October 2005 January 2007 15 7
 
  1. ^ Patch 1.12.0 wasn't a major content patch.

Amount of time since previous expansion

Expansions have lasted roughly 2 years.

  • WoW Icon update.pngBc icon.gif: 26 months (2004-11-23 — 2007-01-16)
  • Bc icon.gifWrath of the Lich King: 22 months (2007-01-16 — 2008-11-13)
  • Wrath of the Lich KingCataclysm: 25 months (2008-11-13 — 2010-12-07)
  • CataclysmMists of Pandaria: 22 months (2010-12-07 — 2012-09-25)
  • Mists of PandariaWarlords of Draenor: 25 months (2012-09-25 — 2014-11-13)
  • Warlords of DraenorLegion: 21 months (2014-11-13 — 2016-08-30)
  • LegionBattle for Azeroth: 23 months (2016-08-30 — 2018-08-14)
  • Battle for Azeroth - Shadowlands: 27 months (2018-08-14 — 2020-11-23)

Announcement

Blizzard usually announces new expansions at BlizzCon, which occurs in the fall. In 2015, they broke from tradition and announced the expansion at Gamescom. The expansion has typically been released a year or so later.

  • Bc icon.gif: 15 months (2005-10-28 — 2007-01-16)
  • Wrath of the Lich King: 15 months (2007-08-03 — 2008-11-13)
  • Cataclysm: 16 months (2009-08-21 — 2010-12-07)
  • Mists of Pandaria: 11 months (2011-10-21 — 2012-09-25)
  • Warlords of Draenor: 12 months (2013-11-08 — 2014-11-13)
  • Legion: 12 months (2015-08-06 — 2016-08-30)
  • Battle for Azeroth: 9 months (2017-11-03 — 2018-08-14)
  • Shadowlands: 12 months (2019-11-01 — 2020-11-23)

Alpha/Beta testing

Beta testing happens several months before release, when some lucky players get to taste the expansion for free.

  • Bc icon.gif: 3 months (2006-10-12 — 2007-01-16)
  • Wrath of the Lich King: 4 months (2008-07-17 — 2008-11-13)
  • Cataclysm: 5 months (2010-06-30 — 2010-12-07)
  • Mists of Pandaria: 6 months (2012-03-21 — 2012-09-25)
  • Warlords of Draenor: 7 months (2014-04-03 — 2014-11-13)
  • Legion: 9 months (2015-11-23 — 2016-08-30)
  • Battle for Azeroth: 6 months (2018-02-07 — 2018-08-14)
  • Shadowlands: 7 months (2020-04-09 — 2020-11-23)

Release date announced

The release date is announced a few months before release:

  • Bc icon.gif: 2 months (2006-11-09 — 2007-01-16)
  • Wrath of the Lich King: 2 months (2008-09-15 — 2008-11-13)
  • Cataclysm: 2 months (2010-10-04 — 2010-12-07)
  • Mists of Pandaria: 2 months (2012-07-25 — 2012-09-25)
  • Warlords of Draenor: 3 months (2014-08-14 — 2014-11-13)
  • Legion: 4 months (2016-04-18 — 2016-08-30)
  • Battle for Azeroth: 4 months (2018-04-05 — 2018-08-14)
  • Shadowlands: 0 months (2020-10-29 — 2020-11-23), originally 2020-08-27 — 2020-10-26 prior to being pushed back, which is about 2 months; it would have been 3 months from the original release date announcement to the push back release date

Amount of time between last raid patch and release

A substantial part of a year has taken place between the last raid patch release from the previous expansion and the launch of the next expansion:

  • Patch 1.11Bc icon.gif: 7 months (2006-06-20 — 2007-01-16)
  • Patch 2.4Wrath of the Lich King: 7.5 months (2008-03-25 — 2008-11-13)
  • Patch 3.3Cataclysm: 12 months (2009-12-08 — 2010-12-07)
  • Patch 4.3Mists of Pandaria: 10 months (2011-11-29 — 2012-09-25)
  • Patch 5.4Warlords of Draenor: 14 months (2013-09-10 — 2014-11-13)
  • Patch 6.2 - Legion: 14 months (2015-06-23 — 2016-08-30)
  • Patch 7.3 - Battle for Azeroth: 11 months (2017-08-29 — 2018-08-14)
  • Patch 8.3 - Shadowlands: 10 months (2020-01-14 — 2020-11-23)

Release

Almost all releases have been between September and December, two reckoning of autumn.

  • Bc icon.gif: January 2007
  • Wrath of the Lich King: November 2008
  • Cataclysm: December 2010
  • Mists of Pandaria: September 2012
  • Warlords of Draenor: November 2014
  • Legion: August 2016
  • Battle for Azeroth: August 2018
  • Shadowlands: November 2020

Conclusion

According to the past releases we know, we will typically learn about new expansions at BlizzCon, and have an 11-16 month wait for their releases. Previously, it was possible to learn about new expansions at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational until being merged with BlizzCon.

There have been some occasions where an expansion was announced elsewhere:

At release time

  • The rush of players into brand new, highly-anticipated content can be huge, if you try to play at the moment it is opened up expect some server burps and issues. Blizzard tries to make sure capacity is up before launch, but understand they have no control over how many of the playerbase take off work/school and dive in immediately.
  • You may want to log onto any characters at the former level cap and make sure they are in inns to make sure they start to accrue rested bonus.
  • While not a part of the expansion, the release of an expansion is usually a gold rush for the savvy player. Many wealthy (in-game) players and guilds try to level up their characters as quickly as possibly and will pay any price for profession materials in the auction house. If you can part with the raw materials for your profession for a week or so, you can make a tidy profit until the prices come down.

See also

References

 
  1. ^ chaud 2014-02-26. Warlords of Draenor Dev Interview, Season 15 Begins, Season 14 Titles, Blue Tweets. MMO-Champion.
  2. ^ Blizzard three-year plan includes two World of Warcraft, Starcraft II add-ons. Gamespot.
  3. ^ Error on call to Template:ref web: Parameters url and title must be specifiedperculia 2019-11-02. . Wowhead.
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