Next two World of Warcraft expansions planned

Blizzard COO Paul Sams confirms Mists of Pandaria follow-ups already in the works for long-running MMORPG.

World of Warcraft's fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, only just entered beta testing this week and has no release date. Despite this, developer Blizzard has confirmed it will extend the game's life with a fifth expansion and additional future follow-ups.

Blizzard is planning to soar over new lands, according to Sams.

Speaking to CVG at an event at the developer's Irvine, California, headquarters recently, Blizzard COO Paul Sams was asked if he saw potential for expansions beyond Mists of Pandaria. He replied, "Absolutely, because I know what the next one is. So, that being said, I think there's a lot of opportunity."

Gamers shouldn't get excited about a Mists of Pandaria follow-up too soon. Sams said the team at Blizzard has only an "idea, a general framework" for the expansion.

On top of a fifth WOW expansion, Sams said he has already seen a glimpse of what's next for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

"I got the pitch from [Blizzard senior vice president of creative development Chris Metzen] of what they plan for 6.0, and I'm pretty geeked up about it. They already know what they're going to be doing for multiple expansions ahead."

Finally, Sams addressed the health of WOW. He said he envisions the game remaining strong.

"I think the future of World of Warcraft continues to be bright, and I think Mists of Pandaria is going to breathe huge life into what I believe is the best MMO out there," he said. "I think the number of people we have playing and the level of enthusiasm they have for the game suggests that to be the case."

Mists of Pandaria will be WOW's fourth expansion. It follows The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), and Cataclysm (2010).

Since peaking at an all-time high player base of 12 million in 2010, WOW has steadily shed subscribers, dropping to a current tally of 10.2 million. The developer said it has no intention to switch to a free-to-play business model, insisting it is happy with its $15/per month subscription plan.

For more on WOW's latest expansion, check out GameSpot's Now Playing video feature with Mists of Pandaria's beta, embedded below.

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