Yesterday, Blizzard had to make the difficult call to delay the highly-anticipated World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion. The primary reason for this is simple: the expansion simply isn’t finished.
But throwing a metaphorical bone to the audience, Blizzard decided to announce the prepatch for the title. Now, players can expect to see prepatch released eleven days from now on October 13th.
With everything swirling around and seeming so unsure, the question buzzing around now is wondering when players will get their hand on the expansion itself. Unfortunately, Blizzard wasn’t able to give us a concrete answer.
As of now, the only thing that Blizzard has said towards the expansion is that it’s still expected to come out this year. Given that it’s release was set for late October, the delay means we’ll undoubtedly not see it this month.
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) October 1, 2020
So, let’s dip our toes into some speculation! Remember, moving forward, that nothing that Blizzard (or any other outlet) has said confirms a new release date for Shadowlands.
One of the most important things to look at is the prepatch release date on the 13th. Blizzard uses the prepatch as a natural transition into the next expansion, bringing changes and often events for the game.
It also means that they likely are rather confident with what work they do have complete on the expansion. If the developers are willing to drop the lead-up to the expansion, then the expansion itself must not need a great amount more polishing.
In his announcement, executive producer John Hight mentions that they’ll be releasing the event that goes along with prepatch – the return of the mindless Scourge – at a later date as the expansion comes closer, as well.
There’s a rather high chance that we’ll still be seeing the expansion this year, barring any sort of disaster or emergency on the developer’s parts. Hight himself makes the same assertion, so they are likely confident in not needing too much more time.
While Hight specifically mentions later this year, the drop of prepatch is the main detail that keeps things interesting. The longest prepatch was Cataclysm at eight weeks. By the same logic, we should see the expansion dropping around early December (December 8th, to be precise).
But the situation surrounding the two is extremely different, and the delay makes things a bit more fluid. We may not see it an exact number of weeks away, with the prepatch dropping mostly as a peace offering.
One way or another, the developers seem certain they can still get the expansion out within the remainder of 2020. The best we can do now is hope for a smooth release and be thankful the developers didn’t release it as a broken, buggy mess.