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Friday, August 25, 2006

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WoW: An Expansion Every Year
7:52 AM | Cord Kruse | 4 comments

In an interview with Games Industry Blizzard Entertainment's Chief Operating Officer Paul Sams revealed the company's plan to release a new expansion for World of Warcraft every twelve months. The Burning Crusade, the first expansion for the game, is on target for a winter release according to Sams, with a specific release date and details on the beta to be announced in the near future.

So will all this extra content mean the game costs Blizzard more to run? "What costs us more to run it is people," he says - as the number of subscribers ramps up, so must the technology.

"We need more firepower on the server side, so we're upgrading the entire global network and we'll be adding new data-centres as well. When you add more players, you also have to increase the number of game-masters and staffers to support all of those players, as well as you have to increase the bandwidth in sizable costs."

But it won't be down to WOW fans to pick up the bill - "We'll be keeping the subscription fee flat," Sams confirms. Though, of course, players will have to pay a one-time fee for the expansion pack itself. Blizzard is considering a releasing bundle pack which include the original game, and perhaps a collector's edition - but nothing's been confirmed so far.

Even with the arrival of The Burning Crusade, though, can Blizzard really sustain such a rapid rise in subscriber numbers? It's a question that Sams is careful to answer cautiously.

"Will we have the same number of subscribers in two years? I don't know. I certainly hope so, but being realistic, that's a tall order."

Sams believes the key to keeping subscribers, and attracting new ones, is to continuously offer new content. "So, starting with The Burning Crusade, every year thereafter we plan on bringing out out a new expansion set every 12 months."

According to a Gamespy report The Burning Crusade has reached Alpha and is being tested by friends and family of Blizzard employees.

To read the rest of the interview with Sams, which discusses Blizzard's reluctance to bring WoW to consoles, click on the link below.

GamesIndustry: Paul Sams Interview
GamesIndustry: WoW Winter Release
Gamespot: Burning Crusade Reaches Alpha
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Buy World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

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