The World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor release date is fast approaching, or at least that seems like a safe guess, since we just caught our first major glimpses of the expansion pack in action. And I must admit, what we've seen so far looks pretty cool, especially player housing. But it brings up an important question: is Warlords of Draenor going to be, after all these many years, the last expansion for WoW?
First off, there's no official WoW: Warlords of Draenor release date yet, but we can take a pretty good guess. First, the base game and every single expansion pack except The Burning Crusade came out in North America in the fall. So it's safe to say that the Warlords of Draenor release date will also be in the fall. Moreover, this fall is World of Warcraft's tenth anniversary. Crazy, isn't it? Considering the huge importance of that date, I think it's safe to venture that the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor release date will, in fact, be November 23, 2014, the game's tenth anniversary. It's too perfect to pass up.
Regardless of the exact Warlords of Draenor release date, there are some telling signs that this could potentially be the last full-featured World of Warcraft expansion pack. The two most significant: the expansion pack is raising the cap from level 90 to a nice, round level 100. And it's not introducing any new races (probably a good idea - the Pandaren worked out fine, but they're very silly). What's more, the game's subscriber base has been slowly and generally declining, with many bumps up and down along the way. Warlords of Draenor will obviously provide an influx of millions of sales and subscribers for a while, but it's not enough to stem the inevitable tide of decline of a ten year old game.
Right now, World of Warcraft is still pretty strong, with subscriber numbers still not that far from ten million. It may even jump past that numer again when Warlords of Draenor comes out. But that's not really the question. Another expansion pack, if there is one, wouldn't come out until 2016. In two more years, how many more subscribers will WoW lose? And how much more contact can Blizzard come out with? They're already running out of races. They're running out of continents - heck, this one is taking place off-world again - and now they're at a convenient stopping point for levels. I think this could very well be the end of formal, full expansion packs.
Now, I'm not saying WoW is ending - or even that WoW free-to-play will happen anytime even close to soon. Just that Warlords of Draenor will probably be the final expansion pack. New content will come out, sure - probably lots of it. But Warlords of Draenor will have to sell much better than its predecessor to win World of Warcraft a few more years of full support.
It's a sad thought, in some ways. What other game from 2004 do millions of people still play? We both know the answer. There is no other game. It's just World of Warcraft, and if it ever comes to an end, truly that will be the end of an era.