Activision Blizzard (ABK) just announced dates for their upcoming releases, including the release date for a new mobile game set in the Warcraft universe and expansions for Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. And while this is Hearthstone’s first expansion ever, World of Warcraft is getting its ninth expansion sometime this year. As reported by Polygon, Blizzard announced further details would be revealed over the next three months, with more information about Hearthstone’s first expansion coming as soon as March 15. In addition, details about the previously announced Warcraft mobile game will be revealed sometime in May, and information on the next World of Warcraft expansion will be revealed on April 19.
World of Warcraft is the world’s best-known and quite possibly the longest-running MMO since it was released in 2004 to critical acclaim. This would be the game’s ninth expansion that would continue its narrative and enrich its already bountiful content. How bountiful is World of Warcraft currently? The game offers more than nine expansions worth of material provided through over 24,000 quests that the game uses to convey its narrative. The game’s current expansion, Shadowlands, is at the end of its unusually short life cycle — as described by the fandom. However, that’s not entirely true; since the game’s second expansion, called Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard took a biennial (occurring twice a year) approach to its releases, at least when it comes to World of Warcraft. Considering that Shadowlands was released in 2020, the time for new expansion is now.
However, Shadowlands was short in content since the highly-anticipated narrative turned out to be quite uninspiring for the fans. In addition, it brought either overly complicated or utterly useless systems to the already troubled game and that significantly hindered the gameplay. Unfortunately, the fandom’s cries regarding the game’s shortcomings fell on Activision Blizzard’s deaf ears, and the game and its players suffered because of ABK’s negligence. Until the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for alleged rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination that plagued the company for decades.
The lawsuit had massive repercussions, and both the company’s employees and players protested against Activision Blizzard. Walkouts, lawsuits, and court-issued hearings revealed more dirt, which eventually incurred government inspections. As a result of these events and Blizzard’s negligence towards World of Warcraft‘s player base, a massive number of players quit the game. How massive? Well, some realms suffered a 50% “population loss,” as gamers were fed up with Blizzard’s overall behavior.
As a response, the company implemented the long-sought changes within a month, making gameplay more enjoyable. Still, the turmoil that the company experienced in the months following the lawsuit affected development teams who couldn’t work on new content — leaving Shadowlands somewhat bland. World of Warcraft fandom and data miners have already data mined several things from the upcoming expansion. Still, most are trying to predict where exactly the game’s narrative could head next.
Blizzard is being pretty tight-lipped about their next expansion for World of Warcraft, as they’ve already scheduled a reveal for April 19. Unfortunately, they haven’t offered any release date yet, but following the trend of their previous releases, we’re looking at an August-December release window.