World of Warcraft is without a doubt the biggest AAA success of the whole gaming industry. Blizzard's golden goose launched in November 2004 and is still going strong, with a total lifetime revenue that has been estimated to have surpassed the $9.23 billion mark in 2016.
Even after all these years, World of Warcraft remains the world's most subscribed MMORPG while the others had to resort to alternative business models like B2P (Buy-to-Play) and F2P (Free-to-Play) to be profitable.
That's obviously thanks to Blizzard's continued support, which produced six expansions so far. The last one, Legion, was revealed at Gamescom 2015 and launched a year later, so it's likely that we'll get the next expansion's announcement at some point this year with a release coming in 2018.
PC Gamer spoke with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas to learn a bit of the developer's approach while developing expansions and what we can generally expect in future ones.
It's a mix of identifying and maintaining key pillars and fundamentals of the game, while being willing to innovate and take risks and try new things. The core of the open world questing gameplay, exploring, completing quests, killing creatures—all of those things have been mainstays of the game that we see as the bread and butter. It's the first part of every expansion we plan out and they're essential.
Five years from now, they'll be five-player groups crawling through dungeons, learning and killing new bosses, and getting sweet loot, people will be exploring new continents, I don't see those things changing. We're going to continue to innovate on endgame structures in particular, continuing to focus on the replayability and dynamic feeling of our outdoor world.
There's still large chunks of Azeroth that we have yet to visit. If you look in the chronicle books, there's all sorts of landmasses, all sorts of cultures and foes we have yet to deal with. There's no lack of ideas on that front. Story-wise, we try to think two expansions ahead at this point. We'll see what the end of Legion brings, but we're trying to make it a cohesive narrative that flows and segues from one expansion into the next.
Are you still playing World of Warcraft and if so, are you eager to learn about the next chapter of this seemingly endless adventure?