Hey there, gold fans! In the midst of all of the hype and preparation for Mists of Pandaria, there's one recent bit of information that's not getting as much attention as it otherwise might. Blizzard has announced that with the opening tier of raids in Mists, they plan to stagger the release of these raids over the course of the tier, rather than letting us have at them all at once.
The blue post here clarifies things nicely, but the basic idea is this: A week after Mists launches, the first raid in the tier is opened. A week after that, LFR for that tier opens. Roughly 3 weeks after that, the next couple of raids open. There's been some understandable uproar, as this is a substantial change. Overall, though, I think it has the potential to be a positive change.
Even though this is a gold-making blog, I do want to say a bit about this change from a raiding perspective. It's an aspect of the game I personally enjoy very much, and I think there's a lot more cross-over between the raiding and gold making communities than some might expect. If you're just interested in gold making, don't worry. I'll get to that, too.
First of all, I think this change really isn't likely to affect the average raid group much. My group's a good example. We're pretty good, but we're definitely not going to be getting world or even realm firsts any time soon. We may or may not be through normal in that month. We certainly won't be done with heroic by then.
These changes really seem to be aimed at two groups. The first is the uber-hardcore, world-first who actually may be done with both normal and heroic in a month's time. The second, I believe, is actually the uber-casuals who are satisfied never going beyond LFR. Both of these groups are the ones that tend to consume their chosen content very quickly, then flock to the forums spending all their time between that moment and the next patch complaining about a lack of content.
By staggering the raid content this way, Blizzard is attempting to reduce the amount of content gap between patches without actually having to rush too much on their development. In fact, I'd go a step further and say that the second two raids should actually be opened one at a time as well. This way, if Blizzard could manage a 4-month patch schedule and keep up the multi-instance tiers, we'd never be more than a month without new raid content.
Of course, that last part is a pretty big if. A 4-month patch schedule is a bit optimistic, but I wouldn't mind if they took the the usual 5 months. The bigger deal is follow-up. Tier 14 is looking to be a great example of the "more raids with fewer bosses each" design, but then again, so was tier 11. Cataclysm opened up with three raids totaling 12 bosses (13 on heroic), but then, a whopping 8 months later, it was followed up with one raid totaling 8 bosses. This staggered release schedule might end up a once-off if Blizzard can't follow through.
For Gold Makers:
For those of us in the gold making community, this has the potential to be a huge boon. Most of us are aware of the huge effect patch days (and indeed, the first week or so after that) have on the market. A sudden influx of players and gear means a huge spike in demand for gems, enchants, belt buckles, etc. Patch days are like miniature Christmases for us.
Now, imagine if this staggered release thing takes off and continues for further patches down the road. It's technically not a patch when a new raid opens, because everything's already finished and in the game files, merely needing a hotfix to turn it on. But for a gold maker, it might as well be patch day all over again.
The raid first opens up, and that brings in an influx of gear and demand. Then a week later, LFR opens for that same raid, bringing in another influx. Three weeks after that, a new raid opens on normal and brings another rush, and so on. In short, this has the potential to be very profitable.
I think this has a lot of potential to change up the way we think of content release, both for raiders and for gold makers. It remains to be seen, though, if this will be something Blizzard uses throughout Mists, or if tier 15 turns out like tier 12 and this sort of schedule gets shelved until the next expansion.