Over the past few days more and more info has been coming out about Patch 3.3. While the PTR is not up yet, the patch notes were released today, leading us to believe that the PTR is not too far off. Some thought The Argent Tournament instances came out too quickly in relation to the progression of the average player. While the overall consensus is that the Trials are easier than Ulduar, this could leave a lot of guilds feeling rushed. There is a distinct possibility that Icecrown could come out before the majority of the player base (i.e. the casual player) have finished Ulduar or Trial, leaving three raids uncompleted for the average guild. Is this too much, or does Blizzard finally have the timing between major content patches to a science?
A lot of this depends on how much longer we will be waiting for Cataclysm. If Cataclysm is coming out within the next six to nine months, than I completely understand the apparent rush. Blizzard wants to get the content out for people to experience before they have something else distracting them. This is great for the hardcore among us, who are already finishing up Trial and wanting something new. Unfortunately, the casual players may be a bit overwhelmed with the amount of endgame content. There have already been rumblings of issues within guilds over the issue of skipping past Ulduar to head into the Argent Tournament. This backlog of raids would only further this problem. Also, Blizzard has come out before and said they do not want a repeat of BC where they had to nerf raids to the ground in order to make sure as many players as possible got to experience the content.
However, if we have a year-plus wait on our hands, than this may be a bit premature. The hardcore players will have time to blow through Icecrown, and be left with nothing to do for a while. This may also force Blizzard into a stopgap raid similar to what they did with Sunwell in Burning Crusade. On the flip side, with three major raids in the game at once that a majority of the population is still progressing through, it could provide variety to the casual player. They can take their time progressing during the wait till the expansion, without having to do the same old raid every week.
Its a hard balance to find, and the timing of raid releases have proven to be crucial to sustaining the player base. With Cataclysm putting a large emphasis on your guild, it will be vital to go into the expansion with a strong group of guildies. The timing of the last raid could make or break the strength of your guild as they prepare for all the achievements and buffs provided by guild achievements. Are you looking forward to having raid content to fill your week, or is there already too much to handle now? What are your thoughts?