My guess is that they had a good feeling for being able to deliver the expac when they said it would be: before Fall 2016. In this instance they are not comfortable with legally committing to a certain date. And having people pay for something that will be delivered Soon^TM doesn't sit terribly well with customers who get impatient. :)I am guessing Q3 or Q4 of 2018 as well. Given how many grinds there are in Legion, I am definitely ok with this concept. While most appearances aren't going away, I still would rather slowly check off what I want when the content is current than go back later when I could be doing other fun things.
Despite changes in development styles, Blizz has always been a creature of habit. So let us examine the past releases and their relationship in terms of time between releases.TBC-WotLK - 22 monthsWotLK-CATA - 23 monthsCATA-MoP - 21 monthsMoP-WoD - 22 monthsWoD-Legion - 21 monthsLegion-BFA - ? MonthsBlizz has never in it's 6 expansions and 13 year history ever exceeded 24 months (2 years exact) between previous expac release and subsequent expac release. In fact the WotLK-CATA window seems to be the abnormal anomaly, the norm seems to be 21-22 months. If we accept this we can then derive the release window for BFA. Legion was launched in August 2016. Therefore 21 months would be May 2018 and 22 months June 2018 with July 2018 being the latest. I'm betting on a 2Q release window or a summer release. Given the release date of the book I would guess late July early August as release. Which would put it in the 23 month window ironically the same frame of time coming out of WotLK to Cata, I say ironic given all the similarities to wrath Legion has generated.
Personally, I see the expansion launching late August/early September. Blizzard has been intentionally drawing out the release of Antorus to avoid the "We've been in x raid for over a year!" complaints they always get.I do, however, expect the prepatch to come in late June/early July, allowing us to do the first 4 Allied Race quests (Void Elves, Highmountain Tauren, Lightforged Draenei, and Nightbourne), giving us plenty to do in the few months leading up to the expansion.
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I'm going for an August 28 (12:01 am) release date - just 2 days ahead of the 2 year mark for Legion and the week before Labor Day weekend; Secondary guess would be Sept 18