As of today the Mists of Pandaria cinematic trailer is up for perusal on YouTube. As such things go (I like to try to judge these things as short films in their own right,) it’s very nicely done. But I doubt it will change anyone’s mind.
WoW is starting to slide in a big way, losing another million players last quarter alone, and the launch of Guild Wars 2 in under two weeks is going to hurt it some more. But not permanently, I think — many of WoW’s players will dutifully return to check the expansion out. The real issue is Blizzard’s own complacency that has slowly chipped away at player confidence and enthusiasm; the content updates for a game which is starved for new content designed to be digested by players in mere days come less and less frequently, and the expansions have gotten less and less ambitious even while they really didn’t add much to gameplay and while other gameplay elements have gradually been backed out of the game. It’s a leaner, shallower game than the game that put Blizzard on top of this market in the first place. I can’t see any alternative to the notion that this is a game on the verge of life support, with Blizzard trying to squeeze out maximal revenue for minimal investment while the party lasts. That’s a valid strategy from a business standpoint, but it’s clear that Blizzard doesn’t believe in this product any more.
As for me, I have a vague intention of checking the expansion out at some point, but certainly not when it launches at full price — and given how historically sluggish Blizzard has been at lowering the price of aging products, I’m not motivated to do so any time soon… maybe next summer or something. But given how fast the market is evolving, with almost everything no longer requiring a subscription, and with numerous entries even within the same fantasy themepark niche offering more features, greater depth and in some cases comparable polish, I can’t see any reason to do more than step in for a month or so. For different reasons, games like Rift and EVE Online are more attractive for a subscription price, and titles like GW2, LotRO, EverQuest2 and Vanguard offer more for (potentially) less money. Even The Secret World at least offers novelty when compared against a contracting game that we have probably all played more than enough of, and to which nothing really new or appealing is being added with this expansion. Unless you have a thing for Pandas in particular.