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Life After World of Warcraft's Patch 4.3

| 20 Dec 2011 23:00
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Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street from WoW talks about the success and failures of the latest patch, and what's coming next.

Even though MMO players are likely fixated on The Old Republic's launch today, World of Warcraft recently had a launch of its own at the end of last month. Patch 4.3, dubbed "Hour of Twilight," introduced the final raid encounter with the main villain of Cataclysm, the evil black dragon Deathwing. Other than a slew of dungeons and raids focused on putting the former Aspect of Earth out of his misery, Patch 4.3 also added features like Transmogrification - letting you change how your armor appears - as well as a Raid Finder tool which facilitated automatic grouping for tackling the high-end content.

We got a chance to sit down with Greg Street, lead systems designer of World of Warcraft but perhaps better known as the crab called "Ghostcrawler" on Blizzard's forums and ask him what he thought about the patch, whether he thinks it will bring back the lagging subscription numbers for WoW and what the next expansion Mists of Pandaria have in store for us.

The Escapist: I just wanted to get your impression of Patch 4.3 and how it turned out from your end.

Greg Street: It was a really big patch for us and we're pretty happy with the reception so far. We knew we were going to put the Deathwing raid and the dungeons in the patch. As we started development of [the next World of Warcraft expansion] Mists of Pandaria, we came up with the idea for the Raid Finder allowing almost anyone with interest to get into the raid content and see it. I remember this important meeting one day and we were like, "Maybe we should get raid finder done in 4.3 because it's such an important feature, and will really give the non-hardcore raiders plenty to do with this patch" and somehow we were able to get it in on time. It's a really big win for us. Players are going to be enjoying it.

The Escapist: Now that the numbers are in, are you seeing a spike in the raiding now that you can kill Deathwing?

Greg Street: Our target was to get 50 or 60 percent of players that had the gear to go into raid finder and do it, it's much higher now, the high 90's of eligible players that can use the feature.

The Escapist: Do you regularly check re-subscriptions when a major patches drops?

Greg Street: It's probably too early to pass along those numbers yet. We have such a large audience that any kind of angle we can get to help us determine the future of the game and the direction we should go is really valuable. I think we've seen a jump, I don't know off the top of my head what the numbers are.

The Escapist: How did the other features parse out? How did transmogrification and all those things work with the community?

Greg Street: Transmogrification was huge with the community. We kind of knew it would be, we were finally giving them the ability to really customize their characters and show off some of their old trophies. I remember the first time the patch went up on our test realm and I looked into the transmogrification room and it was just full all the players. And that's just the test realm, it's not even their real character and they just wanted to test out the feature. Then the first time I went on live and I'm looking around my raid and I'm looking around the cities, and I'm like, "Wow look at all this armor, I don't remember some of this stuff. Where did those hammers come from? Look at that purple thing the rogue is wearing." So it's really been a lot of fun to see all that.

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