By now, you’ve probably already read or heard about it. Boubouille has made one of his famous predictions (one might actually say an “educated guess”), and this time it’s about the one thing every World of Warcraft fan is dying to know: when the hell is Cataclysm going to come out? Boub says that, internally, the target date has been November 2nd, citing the timeline of pre-expansion in-game events as a measuring stick to support his hypothesis:
The first part of the Cataclysm prologue started exactly 8 weeks before that and the next part of the pre-Cataclysm event will probably happen in 2 or 4 weeks depending on their schedule.
His terminology is a bit strange, so let me put it this way — we just got access to the Echo Isles/Gnomeregan events last week, and we’ll be experiencing the rest of it very soon. Which, of course, makes perfect sense. When you’re trying to ramp up excitement for an event, you don’t just strap your boxing gloves on and then start pulling punches because you don’t know when the knockout blow is going to land. You want to come out swinging, and get the crowd cheering, so delaying Cataclysm‘s release any further would essentially demoralize an already waning playerbase.
Exhibit Two: Patch 4.0.1 just hit the PTR. That’s right, not the Beta servers, but the Patch Test Realm (and good luck trying to get in, the character copy queue is already way backed up). Before you get your panties in a twist, though, do keep in mind that what’s in testing right now is only comprised of character and class changes. You won’t experience any of the new content or a changed version of Azeroth, a reflection of the fact that 4.0.1 will actually go live sometime before the expansion actually hits shelves (similar to the way 3.0 was released before Wrath).
What this boils down to is that the beginning of the pre-Cataclysm events signifies that Blizzard has enough confidence in their product to release it within a reasonable timeframe. But why November 2nd? Well, allow me to throw a tin full of lighter fluid on this already-raging fire.
I’ve long based my own predictions on the only semi-reliable fact that I have (as someone with absolutely zero connections inside Blizzard), which is something the prez himself, Mike Morhaime, said at last year’s BlizzCon. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of, “By next BlizzCon.” He, at the very least, confirmed that sometime in 2010 was the target date. When BlizzCon 2010 was announced for the end of October, it would’ve become a very easy guess to put Cataclysm towards the end of October (something I, in fact, did myself).
But I should’ve known better. President or not, Blizzard almost never promises a release date for their games that far in advance, so perhaps it was a bit of a mistake for me to put so much stock into Morhaime’s statement. That said, I’ve stuck to my mid-late October prediction and even made a few casual bets on the subject. Now here’s where things get a little funny: November 2nd is a valid date, but I still may be technically correct. BlizzCon 2010 takes places between October 22nd and October 23rd, which is roughly a week-and-a-half before Boubouille’s projected release date, but with the event essentially putting a halt to most internal company development (as most of the principal staff will be in attendance at the convention), I’d bargain that by that point, Cataclysm will be in a near-shippable state.
Aside from last-minute tweaks and other issues that would no doubt be addressed in a release-day patch, Cataclysm will be finished by mid-late October. BlizzCon makes publishing it any earlier a nightmare with the lack of staff, and doing so during the following week won’t give them the time to recover, either (in fact, it may be shipped to retailers during this period). So that leaves us with the soonest available date for the expansion: November 2nd.
It may not be official, but all evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. What say you, Lore Hounds?