First off, a disclaimer: This post is not strictly gold-making related, although there are some reasons it can be useful, which I'll talk about. This post is rampant speculation on my part, laying out my predictions for Mists of Pandaria's release and the reasoning behind them. I apologize that my first post after a bit of an absence is so random, but I wanted to write about this. I should be back to gold-making with a weekly update post on Tuesday or so.
Tonight, I'd like to beg your indulgence as I engage in some release date speculation. It seems to be all the rage these days. How is this related to gold making? Directly, not at all. Indirectly, though, there's a good bit of the gold making game that involves using historical data to make predictions about what will happen in the future. I also think that as we see more and more release information coming out, we'll see sales of everything Cataclysm level slow way down. Once people have absolute confirmation that their gear is going to be obsolete in X number of weeks, they tend to stop investing in it.
Personally, my prediction is for a September release, September 4th if I absolutely had to guess an exact date. Why? To explain, here's a summary of important dates from past betas:
Burning Crusade Beta:
Collector's Edition Revealed: 10/04/2006
Beta Begins: 10/12/2006
Release Date Announced: 11/09/2006
2.0.1 PTR: 11/16/2006
2.0.1 Live: 12/05/2006
2.0.3/Dark Portal Opens Event: 01/09/2007
Wrath of the Lich King Beta
Beta Begins: 06/17/2008
Level Cap Unlocked: 08/14/2008
3.0 on PTR/Raid Testing begins: 09/13/2008
Release Date Announced/CE Revealed: 09/15/2008
3.0.2/Scourge Invasion Live/Arena Season 4 Ends: 10/14/2008
Beta begins: 06/30/2010
Box Art/Collector's Edition revealed: 08/17/2010
Add-ons enable in beta: 08/31/2010?
Level Cap Unlocked: 09/01/2010
Zalazane's Fall/Operation Gnomeregan live: 09/07/2010
Patch 4.0.1 on PTR: 09/12/2010
Twilight Cultists World Events on PTR: 09/21/2010
Heroic Dungeons Unlocked: 09/22/2010
Elemental Invasion on PTR: 09/23/2010
Release date announced: 10/04/2010
4.0.1 Live/Arena Season 8 Ends: 10/12/2010
Raid Testing Begins: 10/14/2010
Login Screen Updated: 10/27/2010
4.0.3 on PTR: 10/29/2010
Elemental Invasion on Live: 11/01/2010
4.0.3 Live: 11/16/2010
Beta Ends: 11/22/2010
4.0.3a (The Shattering) Live: 11/23/2010
These dates should be more or less accurate, but if anyone has any corrections, or if anyone's found any other dates that I couldn't, let me know. Level cap and raid testing dates for TBC would be especially helpful. Given what dates I have, I can present why I believe the date I've predicted (or earlier) is correct, as well as why I could be wrong.
Level cap unlocking: In both the Wrath and Cata betas, the max level was unlocked in beta roughly three months before release. Level 90 was unlocked on June 1st, which would make three months from then September 1st.
Raid testing: Raid testing for both Wrath and Cataclysm began roughly 2 months before release. Raid testing for Mists began June 22nd, which would make two months August 22nd.
Length of beta: Burning Crusade, Wrath, and Cata took 3, 4, and 5 months, respectively, from the start of their betas to their releases. Cata was understandably the longest because of the level 1-60 revamp. MoP doesn't have that massive chunk of content to test, but they did skip the traditional "Friends and Family Alpha" stage of testing. Five and a half to six months would therefore seem reasonable, which would again put it at September.
No Collector's Edition yet: With the other beta tests, Collector's Edition details were released fairly early into the testing. As of yet, we've heard nothing about the Mists of Pandaria Collector's Edition. However, I highly doubt this means we have another four months of beta. That said, I also don't know why we haven't seen CE details yet. My somewhat hopeful guess is that maybe we're getting a digital option for the Collector's Edition this year, and that's taking longer to prepare.
Pet Battles untested: Other than mistakenly being thrown in during an early build, pet battles have yet to be beta tested at all. This is a bit troubling, but at the same time, the system also seems relatively simple compared to most of the rest of the game, so it could be that Blizzard is relying mostly on internal testing for this feature. The same argument could potentially be made for challenge modes and scenarios. Challenge modes are just a matter of tuning, and scenarios look to be much less complex than even 5-mans.
Pre-expansion patch/events not on PTR yet: It's not necessarily quite time for that yet, assuming my timetable is correct. Yes, Cataclysm had 4.0.1 on PTR three months before release, but Cataclysm was admittedly strange when it came to pre-expansion patches. You can see by the dates above that 4.0.1 hit PTR a good bit before other pre-expansion patches, but 4.0.3 got on there a fair bit later.
Getting down to numbers, I'd say this means we can likely expect to see 5.0 on the PTR and.or a release date announcement within the next week or two. If we don't see either of those things in that time period, we're in for quite a long beta indeed, and I suppose I'll...write you all a haiku to make it up to you.
Personally, I think that means now is the time to start taking a good look at how much you're restocking Cata-level goods and likely slowing it down a bit. If in doubt, keep the raw mats and just make one of something on an as-needed basis as things sell. The raw materials will likely go up in value (at least eventually). The items you craft will likely only go down. (The only exception being Blackfallow Ink. I would make sure most or all of this is converted to lower inks while you still have that option.)
Now is also likely the time to start taking a good look at what, if anything, you want to stockpile for Mists. Better to grab it now than after a release date announcement, when the prices may very well be driven up a bit by others also stockpiling.
What do you think, readers? Am I way out of line? Too early? Too late? Be sure to leave your comments below.
Until next time, good night and good gold.