I know that new expansion hype is bread and butter to most of us, and indeed is a key marketing move to keep us invested in WoW, but what about new players who might be interested in the game?
Lets try to put this into perspective. Back in the day, pre TBC, there was just World of Warcraft. It was big, it was rapidly growing, it was acclaimed by critics, it had solid roots in WC2/3, and- despite the sub requirement, that did put a lot of people off - it was just one game. It was.. how should i say, manageable? Simple. A sub agreement and a one off purchase to play.
Nowadays, it's waaaaaay more than just that. Not only is the sub model still going strong, but now you have to fork out another chunk of cash for four or five expansion packs if you want to get into the game.
Do you think this puts some potential players off? I can't help but feel that this is the problem Everquest faced. As big as it once was, potential players simply jumped ship to other, new MMORPGs when they realized they'd need like 20 expansions to get anywhere in that one. It got to the point where they just stopped trying to attract new players, and their massive back catalogue of expansions instead catered solely to the ones they already had.
But thats the thing- online games - any online game - needs fresh blood to grow. You cant rely completely on existing customer loyalty in a business as fickle as the MMORPG.
And if so, what can Blizzard do to solve this?