New Evidence Narrows the Window for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Release Date

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Rumors about the release date for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm abound, mostly from Amazon.com, which keeps hedging its pre-order bets.  But some information from a more solid source has surfaced, or rather, been laboriously uncovered by data miners.

Evidence hidden in the files of the latest patch to the Cataclysm beta servers indicates that Arena Season 9 will begin on December 14th, which indicates that Cataclysm will launch around December 7th.

Update: WoW: Cataclysm will officially be released on December 7th.

Does that sound insidery as hell?  Don’t worry, it is.  Allow us to explain.

One of the kinds of player vs player play that World of Warcraft offers to its users is Arena combat.  It’s exactly what it sounds like: get a group of 2 to 5 players (but not four, for some reason) and play matches against other teams.  Wins and losses are ranked, a better ranking allows access to better gear, the best team of the season receives special rewards.

Seasons are based in real world time, because players need time to recruit a team and prepare in advance of each one, and to step up their game when the season is nearing its conclusion.  Three days ago, Community Manager Zarhym clarified the timing of the current arena season, and the relationship of the next one (Season 9) to the launch of Cataclysm.  (Season 9 needs to wait on Cataclysm‘s release for a few reasons, not least because players must be at the level cap to run arenas, and Cataclysm will be adding five levels to the cap.)

We are currently planning to end Arena Season 8 as early as October 12… The next Arena Season will begin for level-85 players approximately one week after the official launch of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

At roughly the same time a new version of the beta client hit servers.  The data miners at both WoWHead and MMO-Champion found that it contained a little snippet of text that Arena Master NPCs are supposed to say to you when you try to queue for an arena when the season is not currently live yet:

Arena battles and Rated Battlegrounds are only available during an active player versus player combat season. Season nine will begin on December 14th, so be prepared at that time to take your shot at glory!

In Conclusion

From Zarhym’s statement and the patch files, we can extrapolate that if Arena Season 9 will begin on December 14th, then Cataclysm will be released on “approximately” December 7th.  Possibly earlier, to give players a chance to level up. This time frame gives Blizzard time to do the obvious hook: announce the firm release date of Cataclysm during Blizzcon, when the opening cinematic of the game will undoubtedly be revealed.

Hopefully they’ll also say something about Diablo III, I mean come on.  That’s right, Blizzard.  There will never come a time when players are not impatient for your game.  I’m sure that’s a reality that you can deal with just fine.

(via WoW Insider.)


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