At the beginning of every WoW expansion’s life cycle, a jolt of life is thrust into the game. Veteran players return to Azeroth, while new players explore what it has to offer with a fresh set of eyes. And while those familiar feelings of excitement and refreshment surrounding the game whenever a new expansion hits live servers last throughout the course of its initial phase, the biggest challenge that WoW faces with each major release is keeping players engaged beyond that point of initial intrigue.
And perhaps that was the biggest pitfall of Battle for Azeroth. Back in August of 2018, prospective and excited players were hopping on board, once again delving into a new era of World of Warcraft. However, by September, when it was time to resubscribe and continue that experience, much of that playerbase jumped ship.
For Shadowlands, player retention is going to be the most important challenge that Blizzard will face throughout the course of the expansion. After BfA failed to keep players engaged throughout its entirety, despite some strong content inserted intermittently throughout its 2-year lifespan (such as the impeccable Battle of Dazar’Alor raid, as well as the incredibly expansive Nazjatar experience), it’s going to be imperative that Blizzard keeps the content train rolling throughout all of Shadowlands.
And from the looks of it, there’s going to be a lot to do following those first few release days where leveling and early gearing are priorities. Whether it be pursuing the rewards surrounding your selected covenant, leveling your alts to experience all four covenants, or traversing through endgame content such as the Tower of the Damned or the eight new dungeons coming with the expansion, there’s clearly going to be a plethora of content at your fingertips once you hit max level in Shadowlands.
Keep in mind, this is not to say that Shadowlands is going to be the saving grace from beyond that’s going to propel WoW back to its former status, but at the very least, it should bring back mildly interested players and hold on to them for much longer than BfA did. It wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest that we’re going to see plenty of content updates throughout Shadowlands – both big and small. Even brief updates will keep players engaged and consistently exploring the new features that the game has to offer. If the playerbase has to go months on end without new content, Blizzard will most definitely have to face a surplus of challenges that could resonate heavily with those presented during BfA.
And if there’s going to be any main theme that Blizzard will need to hammer home throughout the entirety of Shadowlands, it’s going to be picking up the pieces of a failed expansion in Battle for Azeroth. When it comes to the metrics of player engagement and player retention, BfA fell completely short of the mark. Be sure that Blizzard will do everything in its power to promote a dynamic, everlasting player experience throughout the entirety of Shadowlands – not just its first few weeks.
Photo Credit: World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment