Blizzard launched the alpha test for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor in early April but hasn't begun inviting subscribers yet. This week the studio's community manager Jonathan "Zarhym" Brown explained what's taking so long.
@Tryvia Because we're not ready to start inviting the public yet. Doing extra polish on the first few zones & will get a build going soon.
There's a running joke/conspiracy theory among MMORPG fans that Blizzard plans big World of Warcraft announcements and updates around competing games. The reasoning behind this theory is that Blizzard wants to keep subscribers' attention on WoW and stop them from trying other MMOs. Patch 4.3's release a couple weeks before Star Wars: The Old Republic's launch is considered one example of this strategy in action. The announcement of Warlords of Draenor's alpha on the same day as Elder Scrolls Online's release is another.
One Twitter user floated the theory that Warlords of Draenor alpha invites would be sent out near WildStar's launch in early June to steal that game's thunder. Zarhym obviously disagreed with that:
@V3rtige@leobolin Flat out: our production schedule & milestones are far more important than whatever else is happening in the industry.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor lets players travel to the orc homeworld in an alternate history. The new zones are filled with quests and dungeons to help players get to the new level cap of 100. In the process, they gain a garrison that can be upgraded over time and staffed with NPC minions. Each purchase comes with a free level 90 boost for one character so players can dive right into the new content even if they've been away from WoW a long time.
Blizzard expects to release Warlords of Draenor by late December of this year. While the alpha test will only be available for a small number of players, Blizzard will hold a wider beta before launch. The company gave out the first beta keys in April.