Since the 4.1 patch has been announced over a week ago, many people have made their opinions known about what Blizzard has decided to do with this patch and future patches. I understand people feeling a bit disappointed in the lack of raid content with 4.1. My initial reaction to the announcement on 4.1 was in line with the "tin foil hat" theory on Blizzard releases. I found it interesting that Blizzard announced the 4.1 release on the PTR the same day the pre-launch of Trion's new MMO, RIFT. Blizzard has a history of making announcements to take attention away from competing titles.
Since the announcement of 4.1, we have come to find out that it will not have a new raid tier, as Blizzard had originally announced at Blizzcon. Bashiok has posted what Blizzard decided to do with their patching going forward. Basically, Blizzard plans to release content on a more regular basis, rather than jamming a large amount of content into monolithic patches. Now that I have heard several people's analysis of the shifting Blizzard philosophy of patch content, it begins to make more sense to me. Lissana of Restokin has posted a great listing of all patches in WoW since its release on 2004. Along with the dates of the releases and its content, I was particularly drawn to the "average time between patches" noted at the bottom of each game release. Starting in Burning Crusade, the patches grew larger in content at the same time as they grew further apart in release time.
Blizzard had set a precedent over the last 2 expansions that every patch must include some form of major raid tier. This limits Blizzard's creativity in content since they are expected to design raid content first and additional content as an afterthought. This Troll admits that he was disappointed in the lack of a new raid being released, but I now think that this is a good thing for Blizzard to do. I am not too surprised that Blizzard has decided to go in this direction of more patches with smaller content updates. Cataclysm has seen Blizzard shift its philosophy on Heroic and raid design to make them more challenging with Cata's release. It seems to me that Blizzard has been taking Cataclysm as an opportunity to clean the World of Warcraft and begin anew. The change in patching philosophy is another step towards changing how Blizzard approaches WoW.
It is up to Blizzard to decide how it will handle its products, but I think they are well aware of what direction they need to take this game. I picture a huge white board full of ideas on what Blizzard developers want to accomplish with the game. I am sure on that board was something about changing patch content to allow them to release varying content, not just raids. The community is torn on what this change in patching philosophy means, but I think this is a good change for WoW. Once the community gets over the association of patches with raid content, it will come to grips with a more evolving MMO experience that is delivered on a more consistent basis. In the end, it is up to Blizzard to fulfill its promise of more regular content updates. We shall see what will happen thoughout this year.
Thank you for following this long 4.1 patch opinion.
Time to enjoy another live show of Group Quest at Dawnforge Productions...