Oct 25th 2011 2:30PM @Malagarr - I think some WoW players enjoy the silly and some players tolerate the silly. Hello Panda Island Adventure may be too much silly for some to tolerate. :)
That is an interesting idea - is Blizzard deliberately trying to skew their demographic away from "mature" gamers to give themselves a better strategic niche in an increasing competitive market?
Oct 25th 2011 2:24PM @(Unverified) - I don't think the D3 giveaway is about this expansion, in spite of the timing of the promotion. It's about a subscription pattern they've been seeing for years. People re-sub for an expansion, stay long enough to complete the core content, and then un-sub for months at a time until the next xpac. They're trying to give people an incentive to stay for the whole year instead of coming and going and coming and going.
Oct 25th 2011 2:02PM @mikejr - I know one person IRL who likes the pandas, and he is a serious Blizzard fanboy.
One of the community managers (I think it was Zarhym) posted about the xpac over the weekend and mentioned that Pandaren have been the most-requested addition to WoW by a wide margin according to some Blizzcon poll. I think part of the mistake here is a failure to realize that Blizzcon attendees are not necessarily representative of the broader player base. Who attends Blizzcon? The biggest fanboys. Sometimes what they want will also appeal to the wider player base, but sometimes it won't.
I don't think Blizz will lose half their subs or anything (obviously), but what about the portion of the player base that's already only lukewarm about WoW and looking at SWtOR with a high level of interest? Might they lose another 10 or 15 percent from the outer edge of their subscriber circle? We'll see, I guess. Seems like the worst possible time for them to bring a weak xpac concept to market.
Oct 25th 2011 1:38PM @Utakata - Exactly. The problem isn't the pandas themselves. It's the fact that pandas are the concept they're trying to use to sell this. Every previous expansion had a strong epic hook - enter the Dark Portal and fight the Burning Legion, stop the Lich's King's undead army from overwhelming Azeroth, Deathwing is back and he's broken the world.
There's a potential epic hook in MoP - the escalation of the Horde/Alliance conflict to all-out war - and that's the idea that should be front and center in the name, art and marketing of the expansion. Instead, the hook they're using is "come explore Panda Island - did we mention there are pandas?"
The content of this expansion will no doubt be comparable to the quality of content in previous expansions. But the way they're presenting it is weak, and I think they know that on some level. Hence the reason Metzen took the time to pump the Horde/Alliance war angle before showing the MoP intro video at the opening ceremony. They know Hello Panda Island Adventure isn't the best way to sell it, yet that's what they've decided to do anyway for some crazy reason.
Jul 11th 2011 1:52PM @(Unverified) - It's also not even close in price to a WoW expansion. Smaller scope, smaller price to match. But I get your point. Scaling down to a mini-expansion does make one wonder where exactly the line between free update and paid expansion is.
That's true for a lot of games, though, especially in the F2P arena (and I expect DCUO to go F2P before long too). Some new content is free, some is purchaseable. Where's the line? Wherever the publisher draws it, I guess.
Jul 11th 2011 1:41PM @bobfish - Except they never said that. The plan was always to do free monthly updates as well as paid-for expansions, just like other MMOs. They never hit their monthly update goal, and have now abandoned it — the monthly updates are now periodic updates.
This is the first expansion, a mini-expansion really, from the sounds of it. It's been assumed for a while that the first paid expansion would be Green Lantern content with a new Light powerset, so this is pretty much what most of us were expecting.