An expansion is additional software (usually made available for retail sale) that adds new content and features to a game.
The content of an expansion is usually not available to anyone who does not own the expansion. Most expansions will not install or run as stand-alone products.
It was stated on an interview before the first expansion, that concepts for this expansion have been made, and that Blizzard had already enough ideas for 5-6 more. As of 2013, four have been released and a fifth announced.
Blizzard has stated it plans to release one expansion per year for World of Warcraft. Yet development of new expansions does seem to take significantly longer.
Activision Blizzard CFO Thomas Tippl stated at the Citi 2011 Technology Conference that 6 expansions for its most popular titles are planned by 2014, of which 2 of them are to be for World of Warcraft following Cataclysm.
World of Warcraft
- World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade — first expansion
- World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King — second expansion
- World of Warcraft: Cataclysm — third expansion
- World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria — fourth expansion
- World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor — fifth expansion, not yet released
How long until the next expansion?
Blizzard develops everything on Blizzard Time, which is more specifically "Soon". As a player, we want to know now. That being said, you can always look at the past four expansion's timelines to get a very rough idea.
- Blizzard has always announces new expansions at Blizzcon, which is usually in the fall. The actual expansion is then released approximately 11-16 months later.
- Beta Testing
- Beta testing happens before release, when some lucky players get to taste the expansion for free.
- Release date announced
- The release date is announced an average of three months before release:
- Actual releases so far have always been in the vicinity of the end or beginning of a year.
- So according to the past releases we know...
...we will learn about new expansions at Blizzcon, and have a 11-16 month wait for an expansion.
- Expansion ideas for ideas about future expansions
At release time
While not a part of the expansion, the release of an expansion is usually a gold rush for the savvy player. Many wealthy (in-game) players and guilds try to level up their characters as quickly as possibly and will pay any price for profession materials in the auction house. If you can part with the raw materials for your profession for a week or so, you can make a tidy profit until the prices come down.