Probably not, but never say never.
World of Warcraft remains one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs, although it has declined heavily since its peak. The last few recent expansions, such as Shadowlands and Battle for Azeroth haven’t been generally well received, and have struggled to attract new players, relying almost entirely on a dwindling supply of hardcore established fans to keep going. That could all change with World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, however, as Blizzard looks towards improving the game’s core systems and features, over transitory expansion-only features that disappear when the next expansion launches. In any case, many questions revolve around exactly how World of Warcraft can grow, or if it’s even possible in the current year and beyond.
One obvious idea is to bring the aging MMO to video game consoles, namely Xbox and PlayStation. With Microsoft looking to buy up Activision Blizzard in the future, many Xbox fans at least have hoped WoW could give the platform an answer to PlayStation’s de facto exclusive MMO Final Fantasy XIV.
We’d have to actually get the game for that to occur, though, and just how likely is it that we could see WoW on either Xbox or PlayStation in the future?
The latest info: Will World of Warcraft come to consoles?
Blizzard has thus far shown little interest in bringing WoW to consoles, despite the fact that native support for Xbox controllers and the Xbox adaptive controller has appeared in the game’s files in the past, which led some to hope that it meant a console port would be on the way. Alas, it doesn’t seem to be the case.
In a recent interview, World of Warcraft creative director Ion Hazzikostas shot down the possibility of bringing WoW to consoles, given the fact that Dragonflight is going to massive lengths to revamp the UI. Hazzikostas said that, essentially, the game is built specifically for PC.
“Nah, I think World of Warcraft is a game designed from the ground up for the PC. I think we’ve just been looking at the ways in which add-ons have at times felt increasingly required, or like the first thing you do when someone comes to the game for the first time is tell them, ‘Hey, go download this add-on pack and move this stuff around’ and we want to do better for our players.”
Would WoW on console even work?
It’s certainly true that WoW has relied heavily on add-ons for its user interface and combat systems over the years, seeking community involvement to improve how the game functions. Installing add-ons has become the norm in WoW, with practically every single player running some third-party system or service to optimize the game and its data feedback loop. Given the fact Xbox and PlayStation are closed platforms without native support for these kinds of tools, that alone presents a massive hurdle for the game as it exists today.
Another aspect to consider is how the game plays in general. WoW is designed very much for WASD keyboard strafing and right-click mouse turning. Being able to turn rapidly is baked into the game’s combat design, from PvP to the game’s more intense encounters. Targeting with a cursor is often an important aspect of play too, especially for tanks and healers, who may need precision mouse clicks to find their mark in a swarm of enemies and allies.
That being said, there are mods for the PC version of WoW that enable gamepad gameplay. The aptly named ConsolePort add-on for WoW gives you an FFXIV-like interface, assigning different buttons to different abilities, while giving you joystick control over your character. Even so, both Xbox and PlayStation support mouse and keyboards for games anyway, so this could potentially be a moot point.
Either way, it doesn’t seem like Blizzard is working on a port now, or potentially in the future either.
Never say never
When Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer spoke to press following the announcement of their intent to buy Activision Blizzard, Spencer specifically name-checked World of Warcraft, noting a desire to bring Blizzard games to more players than ever. Activision has undoubtedly squandered a ton of potential WoW and other Blizzard properties have, with corner-cutting efforts and short-term thinking. Under Microsoft, Blizzard’s full potential could be unleashed, and Microsoft certainly has the tools, servers, and platform know-how to potentially port WoW to Xbox at the very least. It’s known to us that Microsoft is also exploring Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming for PC games as well, and WoW would be an obvious fit for this, even if they didn’t bring the game to Xbox consoles natively.
World of Warcraft may have declined from its peak, but the game remains wildly popular and fun at its core, with dungeons, raids, and co-operative play remaining enjoyable despite the 18-year-old engine and systems. I’ve argued that Blizzard needs to do more to improve the experience for new WoW players, and perhaps once they’ve solved a lot of problems the game currently has, they could then start to consider moving to other platforms. Indeed; never say never.