When is the World of Warcraft Dragonflight release date?
Dragonflight preorders are now live, and it was a little surprising to see that the plan is to release the expansion before the end of the year, leaving only six months before its latest possible release date (assuming they wouldn’t release it the final two holiday weeks of the year). So when should we expect to be journeying to the Dragon Isles and rolling a new Dracthyr Evoker?
Since global releases are now the standard operating procedure for World of Warcraft expansion go-lives, they’re not locked into the normal Tuesday patch release in North America — both Shadowlands and Battle for Azeroth went live in the western hemisphere on a Monday. While I’m expecting a similar release schedule (it’s beneficial to the development team if they can have scheduled downtime the following day to deal with launch issues), any day of the week is really a candidate.
Of course, Dragonflight‘s release isn’t just the expansion go-live; patch 10.0 will be released beforehand, probably by two calendar weeks. Adding to the complexity of a prediction is the fact that the beta has not started yet — it’s even possible that alpha hasn’t started yet, although there are some hints that the internal version has.
What has happened before probably won’t happen again
Normally, the easiest way to predict the future would be to look at the past, but the disruption in the Shadowlands release caused by the pandemic — as well as Legion starting alpha significantly earlier because the developers were trying to move on from Warlords of Draenor — makes those expansions unreliable, leaving only Battle for Azeroth as a potential guide. Throw in the fact that the definitions of “alpha” and “beta” have grown malleable in the industry the past few years and I’m hesitant to use older timetables.
The final factor that causes me to spurn older expansion testing is that Dragonflight is the first expansion in years that will not have a borrowed power system at endgame; while the talent revamp will surely consume some development and testing time, it’s only one system compared to the multitudes we saw in Shadowlands and Battle for Azeroth. Even the Mission Table gets a break for the first time since Warlords of Draenor.
So with all those factors considered or rejected, the biggest guidepost to the release date is the end of the year. Working backwards the weeks of December 19th and 26th seem highly unlikely due to the aforementioned holidays, making December 12th both the last likely Monday for Dragonflight to release as well as the likely release day since the public testing has not yet started. This will also give Blizzard the maximum amount time to work on the talent revamp, as that will come with patch 10.0 likely two weeks prior on November 29th. It’s also possible the development team will aim for December 5th/November 22nd — Thanksgiving week in the US has never been a deterrent to expansion or prepatch releases — but the safest plan at this juncture is to give the teams as much time as they can use.
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