If it lasts a whole year then something has gone seriously wrong at Blizzard. The period that has hurt the game the most is the year+ downtime after the final raid.
There's no reason for Blizzard to maintain a 2-year interval between expansions, other than a lack of sufficient creative staff. My impression is that they have had better productivity in creating content during (and leading up to) MoP and I think they are shooting for 6 or at most 8 months following the release of the final raid before the next expansion is released.
It's much healthier (both financially for Blizzard and psychologically for players) to take a break at the end of the expansion. Refreshes people's minds making them more likely to buy the new expansion.
You honestly think they'll release a whole new expansion on the back of 3 months of beta testing? Dreamland. MoP was in Beta from what, February? March? That's a 6 - 7 month beta. Hell patch 5.4 is probably going to have been on beta for 2 - 3 months ish before it launches - the big raid content patches almost always are.
You honestly think they will launch an expack, a whole expack, with a new tier of raid content, 5 new levels so probably 4-5 new zones + all the quests, the inevitably large quantities of class changes + probably ~7 new 5 man dungeons, not including all the additional stuff they may add like they did with MoP - pet battling etc, all that with 3 months of testing? Dreamland. 6.0 will hit next summer, with the expansion next September... Just like MoP.
Don't forget SoO is MUCH bigger than DS...
Which is worse, a tier that lasts too long, or a rushed expansion? Which ultimately costs the game more subscribers? A long tier might drive people away temporarily, but a good number of them always come back for a new expansion. A rushed expansion can drive people away permanently though.
Hopefully, we don't have to deal with either.
My Guess is:
July to September -- Blizzard trademarks a title and MMOC speculation explodes in full force
Mid August -- 5.4 release
Early to mid October -- 5.5 announced
Early November -- Blizzcon, next expansion announced, annual pass maybe announced
Early December -- 5.5 release
Mid December -- Expansion Beta Begins, honestly if the beta is open to masses again it will keep people subbed without new retail content.
Mid to late January -- 6.0 coming to PTR
Late February -- 6.0 released
Late March -- Next Expansion released
If this is right then there will be a decently steady stream of content, albeit maybe not raid content, between 5.4 and the next expansion. My plan has about a 6 month gap from 5.4 to the next expansion. I think if Blizzard does anything longer than this it will be a big failure, I honestly hope they skip 5.5 and start the beta in October so we can really get it rolling instead of having to wait for Blizzcon to announce it.
If they decide to add another Halion, I think to save development time it should just be a dps race boss. One that on heroic difficulty would require all 25 members to be in full heroic Thunderforged to stand a chance
It won't last a year, they said they are focusing on releasing content quicker now. Based on this expansion, I think they've so far held up their end of the deal. Tiers have seem just about right to me.
I think SoO will be the longest tier this expansion, but I don't think it will be anywhere close to as long as ICC or DS was. I seriously hope not, that's ridiculous to have the same major patch for a year in a sub-based game. GW2 is a prime example.
I honestly hope it does take a year like DS. It'll give me enough time to get everything done in Pandaria that I wanted to before the next expansion.
I honestly hope SoO is out for 8 months at the absolute max. I don't want another Dragon Soul, ICC was 100 times better at the end of its year long run than DS was even halfway in.
I want my Burning sanctum patch!
"Ubi sementem feceris, ita mettes."
LOL... c'mon guys... as if they would make you wait a year for new content just to save money! have they ever done that in the past? nope, I reckon they wont give you one raid for an entire year, my guess would be 10-11 months... so sit back and relax because we all know deep down in our heart of hearts that Blizzard loves their fans more than that green paper stuff.
Lets all go to the Blizz-store, Lets all go to the Blizz-store, Lets all go to the Blizz-store to buy ourselves some treats. Delicious things for geeks, the Pixels can't be beat. The Achievement points are just dandy, them sparkling mounts are quite handy. So Lets all go to the Blizz-store and buy ourselves a treat.
I honestly think a year would be crippling. With lfr people dont even need to raid proper to see a version of the fights and the story and cutscenes. If you kill a version of every boss and call it will the timeless isle style stuff keep you in?
For some yes, for others they will dust their hands and say "well i've seen all the story and since this is the last raid its all going to be replaced by greens in 6.0, not much point paying like £140 just to do these fights on repeat for the next 9 months, think ill go play some free to play games and be back when theres new content" and drop the game like a stone.
That and we are nearing the end of the legendary questline, another incentive to keep playing and running the treadmill gone.
Personally im expecting an august release of the first 'wing' of SoO and for it to all be out by mid september. Then by blizzcon they will talk about none progression raiders clearing maybe half the bosses and announce the 6.0 beta, which i assume will be their holiday season advertising vehicle for customers to tell other former and potential customers whats on the horizon. But the tier will keep going till januarys 3rd or 4th week and maybe a feb launch for the next expansion.
I think the only thing we can be certain of is numbers will decline. SoO is not exactly generating the hype compared to "the next ulduar" throne of thunder was. I see more people talking about whos the next warchief or even "will zaela survive to have garrosh babbies" than actually talking about the fights. The buzz isnt there to pull people in and if thats not happening i can only see people getting bored and leaving.