Rumours sprang up earlier that the next WoW expansion will be centred on the fluffy race of panda people and their mysterious homeland (which cunningly doesn’t seem to fit on regular maps of Azeroth so that’s some clever island hiding right there.) This was based in Blizzard having taken out a trademark for the name, “Mists of Pandaria.”
Far be it from me to doubt Boub’s research but I won’t be surprised if this turns out to be either a hoax or Blizzard are moving away from the large 2-yearly expansion model. Two reasons for this:
- Pandaren are pretty much a joke race. That’s not a showstopper in itself, lore can be written. But there doesn’t seem enough meat there to justify a whole expansion even if they throw in an entire east asian fantasy themed continent.
- WoW is going to face some stiff competition in the AAA MMO field over the next year, with SWTOR, GW2, Diablo 3 (we might as well call it a quasi-MMO now), and smaller MMOs like Prime, not to mention whatever Blizzard has up its sleeve with Titan. Wrath and Cataclysm were both fairly epic; are they really going to go with the fluffy pandas for their next outing?
A couple of fairly major rumours have been doing the rounds over the last day or so.
1. Based on the fact that EA is recruiting one (1) MMO programmer for an unannounced project, there’s a rumour that they’re planning a remake/ sequel to Ultima Online. If it’s true and sticks with the strong worldbuilding focus of the original game, this could be very interesting indeed.
But chances are that any updates will neuter whatever made UO fascinating to players at the time.
And incidentally if you want to try the original Ultima Online, there’s a 14 day free trial. I would also like to give Mythic props because this is the first official newbie guide I’ve seen that offers advice on how to choose a shard/server.
2. And the other, less happy rumour is that Sony Online Entertainment is closing studios and laying off a third (!) of their staff. That’s a lot of staff. Wish them all well if it’s true.
We haven’t had a story in awhile about how SWTOR is inevitably doomed, but fortunately an analyst has stepped into the breath with a breathtaking report that “EA investors are wary.”
But how does he know? Maybe he’s spoken to a few in the games industry, but we don’t know how he knows. So he’s probably just guessing based on the fact that everyone knows SWTOR has cost a lot of money and is a risky endeavour. In fact, anyone who knows anything about the game, even staunch fans who are looking forwards to paying for long subscriptions, are nervous about how well it will do.
I do sometimes wish people would pay me for stating the obvious.
In more upbeat news, MCV (which is a reputable trade mag) got the tip from “development sources” that SWTOR is due for release this September. If that is the case, expect to see official announcements about beta in a month or two. I’m assuming there’s some kind of beta testing going on at the moment.
I think that assuming it’s reasonably polished, September is a good timeframe. It may clash with a Blizzard patch but crucially, it would get in before the October/ November release rush and catch college students after the summer holiday. I am wavering now on my desire to play a smuggler, on the grounds that everyone else probably will too. Plus the last trailer for the trooper showed a female character in heavy armour, and any regular readers will know I’m a sucker for that!