As you no doubt have heard, (unless you’ve been living in a cave), the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm, is on it’s way. Sure, the closed beta hasn’t yet begun, but developer Blizzard has been releasing information regularly on the Cataclysm website to wet its players appetites. The growing quantity of new info suggests that Blizzard might be ready to launch its closed beta.
Way back in the beginning of April, the press received pre-invites for the Cataclysm beta, with press registration closing on April 15th. This implied that closed beta testing would actually begin around that time, or very shortly thereafter. For reasons unknown, either there have been set backs since then, or Blizzard is incredibly slow, as the Friends and Family Alpha phase only just started on May 3rd.
Alpha stage is designed to find major bugs and problems with the game. In the Friends and Family phase, (which seems like a transitional phase between alpha and beta testing), only friends and family of Blizzard employees can participate. Closed beta testing follows. In beta testing, the game more closely resembles the finished product, but kinks, bugs and server issues still need to be addressed and ironed out.
Blizzard has been careful with Cataclysm; more so than during the testing phases for it’s previous expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Aside from the information we are given from Cataclysm‘s website, and the very occasional leaked image, Blizzard is is making sure that any information that is made available to the public comes from them directly. Recently, a massive compilation of leaked Cataclysm information and screenshots was hosted on MMO Champion, only to be taken down at Blizzards request. Information control has become a major priority for Blizzard this time around.
The last few weeks have seen quite a bit of new information, however. Just because Blizzard is controlling the flow of info doesn’t mean they aren’t sharing it. The recently revealed Echo Isles and Halls of Origination both give interested players a good taste of what to expect from the expansion. Blizzards’ recent openness to share information suggests that are ready, or close to ready, to reveal the expansion to players.