World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has shed some light on its plans for the MMO following last night's launch of third expansion Cataclysm.
World of Warcraft systems designer Greg Street reiterated earlier comments that a fourth expansion was in the works to CVG. "I think the next expansion will be something more like a new continent approach. More like the Burning Crusade or Nothrend, where we send players somewhere new that they haven't seen before," he said.
"I think the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor are good now, we won't have to mess with them. There might be some small areas that may require polish or changing if things still don't feel quite right."
Street also told Eurogamer that plans for the next pack were "pretty close to locked in. We have a direction now but that's not to say that this is the one true path that we'll eventually deliver on."
Street also claimed that the company was considering a smaller expansion, released more quickly, rather than its strategy to date of large add-ons every two years. "We're so early, still, on what the feature set means and what the content would mean... We kind of talk about it in two directions, if it's a quick expansion what we would put in, and and if it's the full-blown Cataclysm style, what the feature set would be.
Blizzard was at least considering moving to 18 month release schedules. "We can't generate content fast enough for a lot of our players... If we delivered on expansions more often, I think players would love that."
However, not currently on the slate was new game in the Warcraft RTS series that World of Warcraft was adapted from. "Well, the World of Warcraft team is busy on World of Warcraft, and we have an RTS team but they are busy with Starcraft II," Street told Strategy Informer. "We don't right now have enough bandwidth to tackle something like that."
On the other side of the pond, Blizzard EVP Frank Pearce told Gamasutra that the company wasn't planning to abandon retail releases any time soon. "Retail has things to offer that we can't offer digitally - like the collector's edition, which is always popular with our very passionate fans.
"We're also planning midnight launches for the game at retail around the globe with our developers in attendance and signing autographs. You can't get that experience through the digital purchase."
Pearce also claimed that Blizzard was being exceptionally cautious about moving to hardware other than PC and Mac. "We've got to make sure the experience we're delivering on those platforms makes sense for those platforms.
"We have, in the past, tried to port some of our games over to consoles - and I don't think anyone would agree that was an entirely successful approach."