As World of Warcraft thrives in its experimental phase – Season of Discovery is performing well above expectations

By admin Apr17,2024

As of writing, phase three of World of Warcraft Season of Discovery is well underway. Thousands of people are rushing into a remixed Sunken Temple raid, wiping to basic boss mechanics, not winning loot rolls, and getting rinsed for all their gold on enchants. It’s all going rather well. In fact, the success of Season of Discover has eclipsed even Blizzards’ expectations.

Speaking to VG247 during a press preview of the upcoming World of Warcraft War Within expansion, executive producer Holly Longdale pulled back the curtain on the reception to Classic Wow’s outball season, as well as the thought process behind the current varied approach to WoW content.

“We thought it would be popular, and it was more popular than we thought,” Longdale stated, when asked how the Season of Discovery was doing. “I can’t give you exact numbers but it’s probably double what we expected. We’re doing so much experimental stuff- this idea of not testing […], it adds a lot of risk. But it’s Season of Discovery so it’s kinda part of the ethos! It’s been great, and a huge learning experience for how we do things in the future and how the later phases go.”

World of Warcraft is currently in the midst of a shotgun approach to new content, in that there are various different types of updates on the horizon. Season of Discovery is one, sure. It’s a very good one at that. But you’ve also got the new battle royale style mode in Plunderstorm, you’ve got Pandaria remixed nearly here, Catalysim Classic on flying towards us, as well as the usual march of modern WoW patches and expansions. Whichever direction you look, there’s something for players to latch onto.

This diverse approach is intentional, as Longdale elaborates, “For quite a long time now WoW has had a pretty reliable formula, and it did work. I think we started to see it wasn’t working as well as it used to, and it was time to start reaching out. You can marry that with being more data informed. We’re able to look how people are playing and can break them into player segments, and we could see the player groups that were being underserved, like casuals.”

The current spread of content appears to have paid off. In the recent Blizzard quarterly report, it was stated that World of Warcraft Dragonflight had the highest play retention from an expansion at this point of its life cycle ever. Typically speaking, you see a sharp decrease in players as an expansion gets older, and while that has certainly happened with Dragonflight, the decrease has been dampened recently. One can only wonder if the upcoming variety of new content like Plunderstorm will show a further improvement when the Q3 report is published.

The question now is whether or not Blizzard can maintain or improve upon this trend. The next update for Season of Discovery will take players to the level cap, a point at which raids and the game’s typical endgame content becomes available. With the season seemingly reaching its conclusion, and World of Warcraft Cataclysm being a bit too modern for Classic diehards, thoughts are circulating around what the future of this 20 year old version of the game actually looks like.

I asked Longdale what the future looks like for this enclave of oldschool players, and with a laugh she expressed that she could not tell me before PR stepped in. Oh well, it’s always worth a try!

By admin

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