We are just over a week in, but considering Blizzard is STILL opening new servers and now offering server transfers, I think its safe to say that Classic has been a hit beyond what Blizzard originally projected. How big of a hit we will likely find out during financial reporting (where good news is always celebrated, and bad news is ignored and/or spun), and there is always the question of retention. But let’s assume retention is good and the success of Classic results in Blizzard investing further in the product, what could that mean?
The seemingly obvious choice is to plan for the release of the original expansions, starting with The Burning Crusade. I say seemingly because I don’t think this is as obvious as people initially think. For starters, I fully believe Classic is as big a deal in large part because Retail WoW is so different (read: bad), and so moving Classic towards the bad version of WoW, even one expansion towards it, wouldn’t be great. I’ve argued in the past that WotLK, the second expansion, is when Blizzard really lost it and WoW started to decline (it did decline in terms of subs, and IMO declined in terms of design with things like welfare epics), but even TBC isn’t a ‘great’ expansion, with its 10/25 man raid setup, and the overall zone design being worse than the better zones of Vanilla.
What Blizzard really can’t do is do nothing. People would eventually leave the game, and Blizzard does not want to let a hit just die on the vine, especially when that hit is what originally pushed the company from a nice studio that made hits into a mega-corp. A second helping of $15 a month-fueled WoW success? You’d have to be SOE-dumb to ignore that.
Which leads us to the most interesting possibility, a new expansion for Classic. Take the lessons learned from 15 years of mostly ruining WoW, actually analyze why Classic is a hit, and then do what an expansion should do; give people more of what they like.
Keep the level cap at 60, but introduce something similar to EQ’s AA system, where you still earn XP and ‘ding’, but the power increase is more minor. This would allow those who are currently struggling with Classic-era raids a better chance for success (Nax40 isn’t going to be beaten by the vast majority of raiding guilds in Classic, you can bet on that), without all of the usual ‘reset’ problems of a level increase.
Add more content. Duh right? Fill in the world map with the missing zones, and they don’t all have to be level 60 zones. There is plenty of room for ‘filler’ content in Vanilla, and seeing it actually filled would be great. Same goes for new dungeons. Give people a real reason to level an alt in addition to working on a main. It’s already something that Vanilla was great at, so improve that strength. Give me a fitting ending to the Defias storyline with a level 30ish dungeon!
Adding new races, classes, and crafting professions is all fine, so long as it’s not space goats and Horde Paladins. Worgen, goblins, ogres, etc all already exist, use those. Death Knight and Demon Hunters? I guess, so long as they have that same ‘feel’ as Classic classes, and aren’t played like a fighting game simulator or Dance Dance Revolution. Don’t make all classes good at all things either, ala Retail. Rogues don’t heal!
Of course add more raids, and scale them as needed to keep everyone entertained. Nax40 works so well, even in its too-short lifespan, because it was so goddamn hard initially. Do more of that, and then adjust everything as needed as time goes on so the bleeding edge raids eventually become mid-tier and so on. If new raids are actually hard and progression guilds struggle, I could even see WoW become a big thing on streaming platforms should progression raiders allow it. How many views would a Method stream get for their first attempt at the final boss of the final current raid?
Finally, get some of the good ideas from future expansions into Classic, like a guild bank. Yes Vanilla didn’t have one, but its pretty hard to come up with a good argument against them. Dungeon finder? No, of course not, but again, we KNOW plenty of good reasons against that. Multi-spec? Yes, maybe, if handled correctly.
Sell me that expansion already Blizzard, my $80 for the collectors edition is waiting.