Back on February 20, it was reported that the launcher was being prepared for Shadowlands Alpha. Since then, six encrypted alpha builds have appeared. However, there is no talk of a real start of the testing phase yet, while it will soon be April. Blizzard has set the release of the next WoW expansion Shadowlands for December 31, 2020 at the latest. But is it even possible to keep to this schedule if an alpha has still not started in the spring? Below, we do some number crunching and compare the alpha as well as beta runtimes of previous expansions and take a look at what might be delaying Shadowlands development.

Corona and the Shadowlands development

Given the current situation, it's natural to ponder what impact the Covid 19 crisis will have on the development of the upcoming WoW expansion. On March 14, Activision Blizzard announced that they would be moving work from the office to the home office. Technically, Blizzard and its employees will probably be prepared for this, but whether it will really be possible to upload new alpha builds to the servers from home so easily is something we can only assume. And whether the employees with children and pets at home are still as productive as in the office is another question...

By the way, we also address the topic of Shadowlands release in thecurrent buffedCast.

Numbers game: Production time of an expansion (beta, alpha, and pre-patch phase)

Anyway, let's get to the hard facts and look at how much development time the other expansions took. This is how long the beta phases lasted:

TBC Beta: 109 days

WotLK Beta:

136 days
Cataclysm Beta: 192 days
MoP Beta: 217 days
Warlords Beta: 225 days
Legion Beta: 282 days

BFA Beta:

113 daysA

beta usually

runs between 3 1/2 and a good 9 months, before that there is an alpha that lasts between two and three months. In addition, there is a pre-patch phase before that, which in the past lasted a good month. MoP stands out because there was no alpha. Through the annual bao (in conjunction with the purchase of Diablo 3), you could virtually buy into the beta.


Legion beta also ran for a very long time, but the Demon Hunter could be tested extremely early for pre-orderers.

That a long beta phase does not always produce something good was seen in WoD - the expansion with the least content. The BfA testing phase was particularly short, which led to immature Azerite Perks, for example, simply being waved through. Assuming a Shadowlands alpha would start today, and require the minimum alpha (2 months), beta (just over 3 months) and pre-patch time (just over a month) relative to the other expansions, the earliest date would be early November 2020. The latest date (with the longest alpha, beta and pre-patch phase) would be April 2021, by the way.

WoW: Shadowlands - The epic cinematic trailer is here! World of Warcraft from €14.99

Measured against previous test phases, a 2020 release will be quite tight, especially if you take the Corona factor into account. In addition, it is still not clear whether BlizzCon 2020 will take place at all due to the virus. The first wave of ticket sales should have already started. The only glimmer of hope for players who are longing for Shadowlands is that the alpha phase may already be running internally and you can start directly into the closed beta in the next few weeks.

More number games: Length of expansions

This is how long the expansions ran from their launch to the launch of the next expansion.TBC - 668 days (1 year 10 months*)
WotLK - 755 days (2 years 1 month*)
Cata - 659 days (1 year 10 months*)
MoP - 780 days (2 years 2 months*)
WoD - 657 (1 year 10 months*)
Legion - 715 days (2 years)
BFA - 582 days (1 year 8 months*, as of 28. March 2020)

* Monthly figures roundedTop of

the list in terms

of expansion duration is MoP. Until BfA has caught up with the "Panda addon", there is still a good half year to go.

Judging by the

number games of the beta, alpha, and pre-patch phase, BfA is fully on course to replace Mists of Pandaria as the longest expansion in the history of WoW (buy now €14.99 ).

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