With Microsoft seeking to buy Activision Blizzard in the largest gaming acquisition in history, fans of Warcraft are keeping a wary eye on what the future may hold. It hasn’t been a fantastic year for Blizzard or the MMORPG World of Warcraft, with many players abandoning the long-running title to start a new virtual life in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV. In June 2021, the recreation of the first expansion of the original World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade Classic, was released, stirring the nostalgia pot. But will 2022 be able to breathe any new life into the franchise? Activision Blizzard says yes.
2021 proved to be a disappointing year for the company’s fans, with new entries in the Overwatch and Diablo series seeing substantial delays. In the most recent quarterly earnings report, a section dedicated exclusively to Blizzard titles is almost entirely composed of Warcraft news, with the publisher promising “substantial new content” for Warcraft franchises. This includes “new experiences” in World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, with the former recently seeing the end of the Shadowlands expansion. While a modern expansion may be coming in 2022, no official confirmation has come to light quite yet.
A Warcraft mobile title is due to be released this year, with company CEO Bobby Kotick stating that “multiple, mobile, free-to-play Warcraft experiences” have been in development since last year. Details are scarce, but rumors point towards something utilizing AR much like Pokemon GO.
In the past two years, WoW players have criticized the game’s slip in quality, with two unpopular expansions launching back to back and unpopular time gating mechanics resulting in a fall in player numbers. While the game was the undisputed king of MMOs in recent years, World of Warcraft currently sees an estimated 1.2 million daily players. Compared to Final Fantasy XIV‘s over 3 million daily players, the team at Blizzard has been trying to find a way to climb back to the top. Maybe they’ll find the secret over the next year.