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World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. Set in the Warcraft fantasy universe, World of Warcraft takes place within the world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events of the previous game in the series, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. The game was announced in 2001, and was released for the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise on November 23, 2004. Since launch, World of Warcraft has had nine major expansion packs: The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), Mists of Pandaria (2012), Warlords of Draenor (2014), Legion (2016), Battle for Azeroth (2018), Shadowlands (2020), and Dragonflight (2022).
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Similar to other MMORPGs, the game allows players to create a character avatar and explore an open game world in third- or first-person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) or other players. The game encourages players to work together to complete quests, enter dungeons and engage in player versus player (PvP) combat, however, the game can also be played solo without interacting with others. The game primarily focuses on character progression, in which players earn experience points to level up their character to make them more powerful and buy and sell items using in-game currency to acquire better equipment, among other game systems.
World of Warcraft was a major critical and commercial success upon its original release in 2004 and quickly became the most popular MMORPG of all time, reaching a peak of 12 million subscribers in 2010. The game had over one hundred million registered accounts by 2014 and by 2017, had grossed over $9.23 billion in revenue, making it one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time. The game has been cited by gaming journalists as the greatest MMORPG of all time and one of the greatest video games of all time and has also been noted for its long lifespan, continuing to receive developer support and expansion packs over 15 years since its initial release. In 2019, a vanilla version of the game titled World of Warcraft Classic was launched, allowing players to experience the base game before any of its expansions launched, with versions of Classic for the second and third expansions being released subsequently, with minor changes. In 2022, Blizzard and NetEase cancelled an unannounced World of Warcraft mobile spin-off game.
As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third- or first-person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) or other players. Also similar to other MMORPGs, World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription by using a credit or debit card, using prepaid Blizzard game cards or using a WoW Token purchased in-game. Players without a subscription may use a trial account that lets the player character reach up to level 20 but has many features locked.
To enter the game, the player must select a server, referred to in-game as a 'realm'. Each realm acts as an individual copy of the game world and falls into one of two categories. Available realms types are:
To create a new character, in keeping with the storyline of previous Warcraft games, players must choose between the opposing factions of the Alliance or the Horde; Pandaren, which were added in Mists of Pandaria, do not commit to a faction until after the starting zone is completed. Characters from the opposing factions can perform rudimentary communication (most often just "emotes"), but only members of the same faction can speak, mail, group and join guilds. The player selects the new character's race, such as orcs or trolls for the Horde, or humans or dwarves for the Alliance. Players must select the class for the character, with choices such as mages, warriors, and priests available. Most classes are limited to particular races.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves the completion of quests. These quests are usually available from NPCs. Quests usually reward the player with some combination of experience points, items, and in-game money. Quests allow characters to gain access to new skills and abilities, as well as the ability to explore new areas. It is through quests that much of the game's story is told, both through the quest's text and through scripted NPC actions. Quests are linked by a common theme, with each consecutive quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a quest chain. Quests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, speaking to various NPCs, visiting specific locations, interacting with objects in the world, or delivering an item from one place to another to acquire experience and treasures.
World of Warcraft is set in the same universe as the Warcraft series of real-time strategy games and has a similar art direction. World of Warcraft contains elements from fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, including gryphons, dragons, elves, steam-powered automata, zombies, werewolves, other horror monsters, time travel, spaceships, and alien worlds.
World of Warcraft takes place in a 3D representation of the Warcraft universe that players can interact with through their characters. The game world initially consisted of the two continents in Azeroth: Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Four separate expansions later added to the game's playable area the realms of Outland and Draenor and the continents of Northrend and Pandaria. As a player explores new locations, different routes and means of transportation become available. Players can access "flight masters" in newly discovered locations to fly to previously discovered locations in other parts of the world. Players can also use boats, zeppelins, or portals to move from one continent to another. Although the game world remains relatively similar from day to day, seasonal events reflecting real world events, such as Halloween (Hallow's End), Christmas (Winter Veil), Children's Week, Easter (Noblegarden), and Midsummer have been represented in the game world. Locations also have variable weather including, among other things, rain, snow, and dust storms.
In April 2015, an alternate way to cover the subscription was introduced. A player may spend real money ($20 in North America and differing amounts in other regions) on a WoW Token, which is sold on the auction house for the in-game currency, gold, that initially could only be used to add 30 days of playtime. At the launch of the feature in North America, a token sold for 30,000 gold and 24 hours later sold for 20,000 gold; therefore, the gold amount changes depending on what players are willing to spend. Subsequently, the amount that a North American token sells for remained at above 30,000 gold, and the other Battle.net regions were well above that value. Once a player buys a token on the auction house, it is account bound and cannot be resold. As of February 2017, the WoW Token can also be exchanged for $15 in Battle.net balance that can be used as credit for purchases in most of Blizzard's games as well as in Destiny 2.
Years ago, in the ruined temple of Atal'Hakkar, loyal priests of the Blood God Hakkar the Soulflayer attempted to summon the wrathful deity's avatar into the world. But his followers, the Atal'ai priesthood, discovered that the Soulflayer could only be summoned within the Gurubashi tribe's ancient capital, Zul'Gurub. Newly reborn in this jungle fortress, Hakkar took control of the Gurubashi tribe and mortal champions of the trolls' mighty animal gods. The Soulflayer's dark influence was halted when the Zandalari tribe recruited heroes and invaded Zul'Gurub.
In China, because a large number of players do not own the computer on which they play games (e.g. if they play in Internet cafés), the CD keys required to create an account can be purchased independently of the software package. To play the game, players must also purchase prepaid game cards that can be played for 66 hours and 40 minutes. A monthly fee model is not available to players of this region. The Chinese government and NetEase, the licensee for World of Warcraft in China, have imposed a modification on Chinese versions of the game which places flesh on bare-boned skeletons and transforms dead character corpses into tidy graves. These changes were imposed by the Chinese government in an attempt to "promote a healthy and harmonious online game environment" in World of Warcraft. The Chinese government delayed the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, due to what it deemed objectionable content. NetEase took over licensing of World of Warcraft from The9 in June 2009 following the expiration of The9's contract, and were able to secure a launch for Wrath of the Lich King on August 31, 2010, nearly two years after its Western release. Due to a contract dispute, these servers were shut down on January 23, 2023.
The fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was announced at BlizzCon 2013 on November 8, 2013, and entered beta on June 27, 2014. Warlords of Draenor was released on November 13, 2014. On August 6, 2015, Blizzard announced the sixth expansion, Legion, at Gamescom 2015. In November 2015, the Legion's alpha testing started and in April 2016 the beta test started; the Legion expansion was released on August 30, 2016. The seventh expansion, Battle for Azeroth, was released worldwide on August 13 and 14 (depending on location) 2018. 041b061a72