The Excitement is Unbearable

Posted by Daeity On Monday, December 6, 2010

So yeah.. Cataclysm is out tonight.

For the past couple weeks, there's been a lot of hype about the game and all the "amazing new changes" to starter leveling zones.

It's funny listening to all of the forum comments. For example, "Wow! There are so many AWESOME changes in the Undead starter area.. this is my first time starting an Undead character, but I can tell that they made a lot of changes! This is great!"

I even noticed that some people were complimenting the massive changes made to the Blood Elf & Draenei zones. /sigh

Based on the amount of time spent working on Cataclysm and all of the features removed, I think people should stop sucking Blizzard's dick for a moment and be a little more critical. Now that I've personally had a chance to see all of the changes done to Azeroth, I have to say that I'm a little disappointed.

Sure, there are some cool areas and some fun new quests but for the most part nothing has changed at all. All of the zones are the exact same, but with new NPCs, grass, trees and textures sprinkled in. I still remember the excitement built up when Cataclysm was first announced. Blizzard promised that the "world would be devoured by rage", "Azeroth would be shook to it's foundations", "the lands torn asunder", "Azeroth re-forged", "classic zones forever changed by the cataclysm", and that the "face of Azeroth will be changed forever by the awakening of Deathwing."

What happened, Blizzard?

I was expecting some pretty exciting and massive changes, but it looks like all of the best parts (ie, the biggest visual changes) were already displayed in the Cataclysm teaser video. It still funny to watch though.. I think everyone was more excited about flying mounts in the Old World then anything else.

Cataclysm File Size

The Cataclysm game isn't as big as some people are expecting. For the most part, you already had Cataclysm installed with those 4.0.1-4.0.3a patches. =]

The Cataclysm retail DVD mostly contains old files and patch data to make sure your version is most up-to-date... to 4.0.0 that is. If you install Cataclysm from the Retail DVD, it will in fact downgrade your entire install to 4.0.0 and you'll have to go through all of the updates from scratch again. There's going to be a lot of pissed off players when they realize this.

Here's a faster way if you purchased the retail copy. You can actually do this too without purchasing Cataclysm, but you'll still need the upgraded key to play Cataclysm.

With your existing 4.0.3a patch, it's also possible to upgrade your game client to the Cataclysm retail with about 327MB of data and even then, some of that data is just replacement information too. The new Cataclysm Digital Download [expansion3.MPQ (632.3MB), expansion3-speech-enUS.MPQ (55.5MB), expansion3-locale-enUS.MPQ (1.0MB)] is a little less than 700MB size, but it contains a lot of replacement information that's about as superfluous as a third nipple.

All of the Cataclysm data files amount to about 1/4 the size of WOTLK, but it should increase as Blizzard Blizzard applies for fixes, patches, and content updates to Cataclysm over the next several months.

Cataclysm Sales Predictions

Surprisingly, there really haven't been a lot of predictions made for Cataclysm.. possibly because they learned their lesson from the last expansion pack (overestimates.) Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia predicts that Cataclysm will sell between 3.5 and 4 million copies in their first month of sales. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter predicted instead that Cataclysm will sell over 6 million copies in December (and 6 million for SC2).

For the sake of comparison, WOTLK sold 2.8 million copies in it's first 24 hours and TBC sold 2.4 million copies.

Even Blizzard themselves made a prediction, which I haven't seen in a really long time! Jay Allen Brack said, "We expect the Cataclysm sales to exceed the levels of the previous versions, but we do not have an exact target."

Very interesting indeed, but it shouldn't surprise me since Blizzard really went ALL OUT for this expansion pack and are trying to push as much revenue as possible this time around.

So, what exactly has Blizzard done?

This year, Blizzard has done quite a number of things to push sales of their new expansion pack while also driving revenue for the quarter across the board. It's quite a big deal too.. maybe they're trying to prove something to their investors. =]

- Cataclysm was designed from the ground up for intro-level players, and is a way for new players to join without fear of too many high-leveled or experienced players. It's sort of a "reset" to bring everyone back to the same level ground. It also encourages veteran players to invite more friends since they will be creating new characters (possibly on new servers too.)
- Cataclysm was also designed to bring back old players who miss the "good ol' days" and want Classic realms to make a return.
- Introduced the new Digital Download system for Cataclysm.
- Paid Faction and Race Changes available on the FIRST DAY for the new race/class combinations.
- New [Moonkin Hatchling] and [Lil Ragnaros] pet sales "for charity".
- Special Christmas (limited time) offers: Blizzard lowered the cost of WoW to $5, TBC to $5 and WOTLK to $10.
- Heavy media and email campaigns to bring back players, friends, and family members.
- Offering 7 days of free game time to all non-active players (right up to the day before Cata - Note: the expiration date was actually extended). These game offers actually concern me sometimes.. whenever Age of Conan, SWG or another failed MMORPG tried to get players to "Come Back!" it just came off as a sign of desperation.
- New forum system - completely cleaned house and made it easier to remove negative comments and old critical posts, while also further crippling search capabilities.
- The new Blizzard Digital Sales system will now obscure true sales numbers (since retails sales are tracked by NPD) and Blizzard is under no requirement to release sales figures to the public. They can pretty much announce anything they want - e.g. "biggest sales yet!" without actual figures or breakdown of Cataclysm vs previous expansions.
- And of course, the game was released right before Christmas during the largest sales period of the year.

All of these activities were planned for years in advance and deployed simultaneously to drive revenue as high as possible for the quarter. It will be very interesting the see the results. Their MMO revenue for this quarter should be at minimum in the $600 million mark based on analyst's predictions. (WoW currently makes about $270-300 million per quarter on average by the way.)