World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the |Warcraft fantasy universe. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft media franchise|franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, World of Warcraft:The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King|Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008. The third expansion set, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm|Cataclysm, was released on December 7, 2010. The fourth expansion set, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria|Mists of Pandaria, was released on September 25, 2012. The fifth expansion set, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor|Warlords of Draenor, was released on November 13, 2014. The sixth expansion set, World of Warcraft: Legion|Legion, was released on August 30, 2016. The seventh expansion set, announced on November 3, 2017, is World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth|Battle for Azeroth.
With a peak of 12 million subscriptions in October 2010 and Blizzard's final report of 5.5 million subscriptions in October 2015, World of Warcraft remains the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. In January 2014, Blizzard announced that more than 100 million accounts had been created over the game's lifetime.
At BlizzCon 2017, Blizzard announced that it is developing a classic server option that provides a way to experience the game before any of its expansions launched.
Starting a character or play session
As with other MMORPGs, players control a Player avatar within a game world in third 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 Online pay for play|subscription by using a credit or debit card, using Prepayment for service|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.
Players can make new characters on all realms within the region, and it is also possible to move already established characters between realms for a fee.
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; Pandarens, added in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria|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 (fantasy)#Sentient "races"|race, such as orcs or trolls for the Horde, or humans or dwarves for the Alliance. Players must select the Character class|class for the character, with choices such as mages, warriors, and priests available. Most classes are limited to particular races.
As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character. Characters can choose two primary professions that can focus on producing items, such as tailoring, blacksmithing or jewelcrafting or on gathering from resource nodes, such as skinning or mining. Characters can learn all four secondary skills: archeology, cooking, fishing and first aid. Characters may form and join Clan (computer gaming)|guilds, allowing characters within the guild access to the guild's chat channel, the guild name and optionally allowing other features, including a guild tabard, guild bank, guild repairs, and dues.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves the completion of quest (gaming)|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. Quests are linked by a common theme, with each consecutive quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a Quest (gaming)#Quest chains|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.
While a character can be played on its own, players can group with others to tackle more challenging content. Most end-game challenges are designed in a way that they can only be overcome while in a group. In this way, character classes are used in specific roles within a group. World of Warcraft uses a "rested bonus" system, increasing the rate that a character can gain experience points after the player has spent time away from the game. Characters can be resurrected by other characters that have the ability or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died. If a character is past level ten and they resurrect at a graveyard, the items equipped by the character degrade, requiring in-game money and a specialist NPC to repair them. Items that have degraded heavily become unusable until they are repaired. If the location of the character's body is unreachable, they can use a special "spirit healer" NPC to resurrect at the graveyard. When the spirit healer revives a character, items equipped by the character at that time are further degraded, and the character is significantly weakened by what is in-game called "resurrection sickness" for up to ten minutes, depending on the character's level. This "resurrection sickness" does not occur and item degradation is less severe if the character revives by locating its body, or is resurrected by another player through spells or special items.
World of Warcraft contains a variety of mechanisms for player versus player (PvP) play. Players on player versus environment (PvE) servers can opt to "flag" themselves, making themselves attackable to players of the opposite faction. Each battleground has a set obje
On July 6, 2010, Blizzard Entertainment announced that on its forums for all games, users' accounts would display the real names tied to their accounts. Blizzard announced the change following an agreement with Facebook to allow Facebook to connect persons who choose to become friends to share their real identity (Real ID, as Blizzard calls the feature). The integration of the feature into the forums on the Blizzard Entertainment site raised concerns amongst fans of the many game series Blizzard has created over the years.
In response to the concerns, Blizzard released an updated statement on July 9, 2010, announcing that the Real ID integration with the official forums was being canceled.
Community and study of player interaction
In addition to playing the game itself and conversing on discussion forums provided by Blizzard, World of Warcraft players often participate in the virtual community in creative ways, including fan artwork and comic strip style storytelling.
Blizzard garnered criticism for its decision in January 2006 to ban guilds from advertising sexual orientation preferences. The incident occurred after several players were cited for "harassment" after advocating a group that was a gay-straight alliance. Blizzard later reversed the decision to issue warnings to players promoting LGBT-friendly guilds.
On October 7, 2010 World of Warcraft reached a subscriber base of over 12 million players. Since May 2011, the number of players playing had decreased by 10% from 11.4 million to 10.3 million. Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime said that the reason was probably due to a drop-off in the Eastern markets. In 2012, senior producer John Lagrave told Eurogamer that the drop in subscriptions may have also been attributed to the recent release of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Sale of virtual goods in the real world
As with other MMORPGs, companies have emerged offering to sell virtual gold and associated services. The practice of amassing gold and in-game items for financial profit is frequently referred to as gold farming.
After Blizzard started offering free trial gameplay accounts, players noticed an increase in spam (electronic)|spam from Computer game bot|bots advertising these services. One study shows that this problem is particularly prevalent on the European realms, with gold being over 14 times more expensive to buy on US realms than their European counterparts.
In patch 2.1, Blizzard responded to this by adding additional anti-spam mechanics including whisper throttling and the report spam function. Additionally, trial accounts are prevented from speaking in the public chat channels (although they may speak to players within range or whisper to other players that have first whispered to them), participating in in-game trades, and using the Auction House and the mail feature, among other limitations.
In May 2007, Blizzard filed a complaint against in Game Dollar LLC (trading as peons4hire) in U.S. federal court. In February 2008, the parties filed a consent decree in which in Game Dollar agreed to refrain from using any World of Warcraft chat or communication to advertise any business or sell any services relating to World of Warcraft. In June 2007, World of Warcraft player Antonio Hernandez filed a class action lawsuit against IGE for interfering with the intended use of the game.
As characters progress in World of Warcraft and take on some of the toughest challenges, many of the rewards received are bound to that character and cannot be traded, generating a market for the trading of accounts with well-equipped characters. The highest noted World of Warcraft account trade was for £5000 (€7000, US$9,900) in early September 2007. The high price was due to the character possessing items that at the time were owned by only a handful out of the millions of active players, due to the difficulty in acquiring them. However, Blizzard banned the account five days after the purchase.
The practice of buying or selling gold in World of Warcraft has generated significant controversy. On February 21, 2008, Blizzard released a statement concerning the consequences of buying gold. Blizzard reported that an "alarmingly high" proportion of all gold bought originates from "hacked" accounts. The article also stated that customers who had paid for character leveling services had found their accounts compromised months later, with all items stripped and sold for virtual gold. The article noted that leveling service companies often used "disruptive hacks ... which can cause realm performance and stability issues". In April 2015, introduced a means to sell in-game gold for real money. A player may spend $20 on a one-month "game time token" that can be sold for in-game gold on the auction house. This resulted in a new Blizzard record donation of over $1.7 million to Make-A-Wish. In December 2016, Blizzard again sold a battle pet named Mischief for $10; it helped raise more than 2.5 million for Make-A-Wish. In September 2017, Blizzard sold a battle pet named Shadow the fox for $10, with proceeds going to the American Red Crosss|Red Cross to help with disater relief.
Corrupted Blood plague incident
The Corrupted Blood plague incident was one of the first events to affect entire servers. Patch 1.7 saw the opening of Zul'Gurub, the game's first 20-player raid dungeon where players faced off against a tribe of trolls. Upon engaging the final boss, players were stricken by a Buff (computer gaming)#Debuffs|debuff called "Corrupted Blood" which would periodically sap their life. The disease was passed on to other players simply by being near infected players. Originally this malady was confined within the Zul'Gurub instance, but it made its way into the outside world by way of hunter pets or warlock minions that contracted the disease.
Within hours, Corrupted Blood had completely infected major cities because of their high player concentrations. Low-level players were killed in seconds by the high-damage disease. Eventually, Blizzard fixed the issue so that the plague could not exist outside of Zul'Gurub.
The Corrupted Blood plague so closely resembled the outbreak of real-world epidemics that scientists are currently looking at the ways MMORPGs or other massively distributed systems can model human behavior during outbreaks. The reaction of players to the plague closely resembled previously hard-to-model aspects of human behavior that may allow researchers to more accurately predict how diseases and outbreaks spread amongst a population.
In other media
World of Warcraft has inspired artists to satirize it and acknowledge its mark in popular culture. One example is the Emmy Award-winning South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft".
The game has been used to advertise unrelated products, such as Toyota trucks.
In late 2007, a series of television commercials for the game began airing featuring pop culture celebrities such as Mr. T, William Shatner, and Verne Troyer discussing the virtues of the character classes they play in the game. A Spanish commercial featuring Guillermo Toledo, and a French commercial featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, were also televised. Two more were shown in November 2008, featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Steve Van Zandt. Another commercial in the series, which began airing in November 2011, featured Chuck Norris and played on the Internet phenomenon of "Chuck Norris facts".
World of Warcraft has inspired two board games: World of Warcraft: The Board Game (including Shadow of War and The Burning Crusade expansions) and World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game, produced by Fantasy Flight Games. There is also a World of Warcraft Trading Card Game|trading card game, and a collectible miniatures game on the market, both formerly produced by Upper Deck Entertainment, now produced by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Cryptozoic released an "Archives" set which contains foil reproductions of older cards produced by Upper Deck. In August 2012, Megabloks launched a licensed line of World of Warcraft 'building block' toys based on the game scenes, scenarios and characters. In March 2014, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was released, which is a free-to-play digital card game based on the Warcraft universe, using classes similar to World of Warcraft.
In November 2007, DC Comics published the first issue of the World of Warcraft comic under their Wildstorm Comics imprint.
To mark the release of Hearthstone, Blizzard released the Hearthsteed mount for World of Warcraft players. The mount is obtained through winning three games in Arena or Play mode. Widely advertised on various World of Warcraft websites, this promotion encourages World of Warcraft players to try Hearthstone and marked the first significant crossover implemented between Blizzard games.
Players who purchase Warlords of Draenor Collector's or Digital Deluxe Edition receive an Orc themed card back in Hearthstone. Heroes of the Storm players who reach level 20 receive the Grave Golem battle pet in World of Warcraft and after reaching level 100 in World of Warcraft receive an Ironside Dire Wolf mount in Heroes of the Storm. Starting on March 11, 2016, players who level a character to 20 in WoW, which can be completed with the free starter edition, earn the alternate Paladin hero Lady Liadrin in Hearthstone.
Purchasing 'Overwatch Origins or Collectors Edition gives WoW players with the Baby Winston battle pet.