This is definitely a sign that World of WarCraft: Cataclysm closed beta might start any time within a three-months radius. The flood-gates of information about the expansion has been opened wide, and that’s not very common since the official announcement made last year at BlizzCon 2009.

Blizzard is gearing up for beta when they are ready to talk a LOT about the expansion, and here is a proof that something has stirred the giant out of its slumber. Starting tomorrow, Blizzard will release Cataclysm Class previews allowing players to learn what the WoW Team has planned for your character progression in the next expansion.

Let’s speculate a bit. The past World of Warcraft’s betas have usually lasted around 4 months. Let’s say the expansion came out on November 2010. That would put the beginning of Cataclysm beta somewhere around July 2010 or earlier.

Note: Wrath of the Lich King beta key email invitations started on July 2008, 2008. The expansion shipped on November 13, 2008. (nearly 4 months of Beta Testing).
Burning Crusade beta key email invitations went out on October 12, 2006. The expansion shipped on January 18, 2007. (4 months of Beta Testing).

IF the trend remains a constant, and IF the Cataclysm expansion ships in November 2010, close beta might be somewhere around July 2010. (4 months of Beta Testing).

Blizzard Quote:
Beginning Wednesday, April 7 we will begin releasing class previews containing an overview of some of the changes currently being planned for each of the 10 World of Warcraft classes. The type of information you can expect from these posts are a list of the new spells from 80-85, the new passive mastery bonuses for all talent trees, a brief outline of some of the talent changes we’re currently planning, and in some cases new low level spells for select classes.

These changes will by no means be comprehensive, and are subject to change between now and the launch of the expansion. It’s also important to understand that some classes are currently further along in the development process than others, and as a result the amount of information will vary from class to class. Please do not let this frustrate you should your class be amongst those which are on the “lighter” side of things, as all classes will receive the same level of design attention before the expansion is released. Additionally we’ll be providing more information for all classes, especially as we move into the beta phase.

Below is the schedule for each class:

Shaman – April 7
Priest – April 7
Warlock – April 7

Warrior – April 8
Death Knight – April 8
Rogue – April 8

Hunter – April 9
Druid – April 9
Mage – April 9

Paladin – April 16*

These posts are being coordinated internationally so they’ll be posted at different times throughout the day and night on the given dates to give players around the world the ability to see posts made at a convenient time. This thread will be updated with links directly to each class preview as they’re posted.

*The paladin is still deep in development. Instead of giving a preview that would be potentially less comprehensive than the other classes we made the decision to post it when it’s ready, in order to properly honor the paladin class and those that play them. The wait isn’t too long however as we’re expecting to be able to post it on April 16.