Bargain Bin Posts Week: What If World of Warcraft was Delayed Until Late 2005?

I never did get this speculation column off the ground, but I’ve chewed on this particular topic quite a bit over the years.  What if Guild Wars and EQ2 didn’t have to compete with WoW in 2004, but had more time to establish themselves — not that they did poorly in the first place?  What if the industry didn’t have to react to WoW for another year — what games might have come out in that time period, and what older systems might have seen continued life?

Today I’m kicking off a new, somewhat irregular column here at Bio Break entitled “What If?”  In it, I’ll be engaging in speculation of the highest order to conjecture how MMO history might be different if something went a different way.  Consider it alternate gaming history, if you will.  It’s just for fun anyway.

So today’s What If? is one I’ve really wondered: What if World of Warcraft didn’t launch in 2004, but instead was delayed until late 2005?

It’s not terribly hard to imagine how and why this may have occurred.  After all, Blizzard was and is the king of “when it’s done” releases, and the development for WoW took years and years.  After spending $60 million on the project, they may have gotten jitters at some point in 2004, worried that they were lacking suitable end game content, and a bit jittery at the upcoming release of EverQuest 2.  So, after a long and heated board meeting, the powers that be at Blizzard decide to delay for one more year, to add more of that distinctive Blizzard polish and work on adding more end game locales and dungeons.

5 thoughts on “Bargain Bin Posts Week: What If World of Warcraft was Delayed Until Late 2005?

  1. An extra year of work? Well, Mauradon and Dire Maul would have been out before release, as probably would have been Blackwing Lair.

    As for other stuff, I think we’d have gotten more fleshed out and consistent class quests for all levels. You’re kind of hit-and-miss with quests for different classes. Warriors had the Fray and the armour quests which ended about level 30, Shamans had their totem quests from 1 to 30. Whereas warlocks had Pet quests up till the late 50s.
    Hunters got sod all in the way of quests once you got your pet, Druids had their last form quest at level 16.
    I mean, I know I levelled both a Druid and a Hunter in vanilla, it’s not like I’m jealous or anything 😛

  2. I avoided Everquest 2 because of it’s high computer requirements, and I already knew that it was fracturing it’s community from Everquest 1. So I don’t think it would have dominated from that sense that initially, not many people could run it.

    I’m not sure if Guild Wars would have been any bigger, they’re aiming at the fantasy market, but their pricing model appeals to a very different community. I met many GW people who didn’t play WoW simply because of the subscription model. At the time a subscription on top a full price game was still outrageous.

  3. This is quite interesting, without WoW would SWG have brought out the NGE as it was heavily based on the WoW interface at the time. Without the NGE SWG may have kept a lot of its audience, I know it was the final straw for me and a lot of my PA.

  4. If GW had some time to make some more inroads in the market, we might have seen more games with that business model earlier, and the F2P renaissance earlier. WoW itself might have pulled back from subs; I understand that it wasn’t a very clear decision in the early days to run that way.

  5. Perhaps if there had been another year of development the Barrens would be alot more fun to play (as I understand they will be in Cataclysm but that is only hearsay). Now, sad to say, the once active barrens are barren. I even had to tell my own Chuck Norris joke last time I rode through them.

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