Living in Winnipeg, I am thoroughly used to being ill adjusted to the change in seasons. The picture above is taken out of my window on this, the first day of spring here. However, seasons in WoW have been fairly set in stone since we first saw them back in June of 2006 when patch 1.11.1 hit and the Summer Bass, a summer only fish, came to the waters of Azeroth. Until then we had no idea what seasons were in the world of Azeroth, considering the always winter zones like Winterspring and Dun Morogh, and the always summer ones of Tanaris and Stranglethorn Vale. From patch 1.11.1 until this past September, people have been able to plan seasons around these two fish. Summer from March 20 to September 22, and winter from September 23 to March 19. It was always the equinox that decided the shift.
Then along came Mists of Pandaria. When people first saw the Snowy Owl and Qiraji Guardling pets in the beta, it was a time of excitement. Summer pet, winter pet. We knew when summer and winter happened. There was some mild frustration when the game launched literally three days after the end of summer, meaning people would have a roughly six month wait for the Qiraji Guardling, but that was not overly burdensome. We could wait for Zookeeper for a few months. In fact a few people I know didn’t even get the Snowy Owl, figuring they could get the Owl on the 19th of March, then fly south, park at an inn in Silithus, and in the morning get the Guardling.
Word began circulating around the first of March that people were not able to find any Snowy Owl pets in the Winterspring zone. It was about this time that Blizzard did confirm that the Snowy Owl was seasonally done, and that the pet would not be available until winter returned. Now, again, it is always winter in Winterspring, it’s kind of in the name of the zone, but even more confusing was the sudden end to the season that we knew ended on a certain date for almost 6 years. It would be like suddenly on January 9th, all the snow melted in Winnipeg, and the scientists said “Oh, forget what you knew about seasons, this is the new end of winter!”.
At this point, Blizzard has angered players with both the sudden end to the availability of the Snowy Owl pet, and their vague statements about when the Qiraji Guardling pet will become available. Unlike in the real world, there is no celestial calendar or scientific deduction any of us can do as to when the seasons ‘officially’ begin in the world of Azeroth. While some out there may enjoy the mystery of not knowing when this newfound change of seasons will happen, I know a few folks one pet away from the Zookeeper title that are highly unimpressed with Blizzard over this, and the aggravation grows with every passing real world milestone towards the official start of summer.
The Snowy Owl ending on February 28 followed no real world marker for the seasonal progression, and I think this has only added to the frustration. If the Snowy Owl had ended on March 19th, like the end of official winter in the real world, people who are rabid pet collectors could at least plan and expect when they might see the Qiraji Guardling. Alas, that is not the case, so those with merely one pet to go to Zookeeper must wait, and bide their time, because Blizzard developers are being uncommunicative and unhelpful when it comes to these questions, and GMs have on many occasions been outright wrong on the issue. Hopefully, Blizzard will take a note from this and make this amount of information as open as the loads of other stuff they are openly advising on via social media and the forums.
Since this article was written, Cory Stockton took to his personal Twitter account to advise that as of patch 5.3, the season pets will follow the real world season timelines. This means that the Snowy Owl will be available until late March 2014 next year, and the Qiraji Guardling will be available during the normal summer cycle assuming patch 5.3 is out by June 21st. I want to thank Blizzard for hearing the community’s feelings on this and responding.