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For the classic server option dedicated to emulate the original experience, see World of Warcraft: Classic.
World of Warcraft
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
 After release: Team 2
Publisher(s) Blizzard Entertainment[1]
Designer(s) Rob Pardo
Jeff Kaplan
Tom Chilton
Composer(s) Jason Hayes
Tracy W. Bush
Derek Duke
Glenn Stafford
Platforms Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, (Linux via Wine or Cedega)
  • NA: November 23, 2004[3]
  • KO: January 18, 2005[2]
  • EU: February 11, 2005[4]
  • CN: June 6, 2005[5]
  • SG: July 21, 2005[6]
  • TW: November 8, 2005[7]
Latest release
Genre(s) Massively multiplayer online role-playing
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Expansion packs chronology

World of Warcraft
The Burning Crusade

World of Warcraft, often abbreviated as WoW (or, when referring to the original game, vanilla, classic, or pre-BC), is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) developed by Blizzard Entertainment and released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise, three years after its announcement on September 2, 2001.[8] It is the fourth released game set in the Warcraft universe, and takes place four years after the events of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.[9]

Selected World of Warcraft articles[]


Four years after the Battle of Mount Hyjal, tensions between the Alliance and the Horde begin to arise once again.[10] Intent on settling the arid region of Durotar, Thrall's new Horde expanded its ranks, inviting the undead Forsaken to join orcs, tauren, and trolls. Meanwhile, dwarves, gnomes and the ancient night elves pledged their loyalties to a reinvigorated Alliance, guided by the human kingdom of Stormwind. After Stormwind's king Varian Wrynn mysteriously disappeared, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon served as Regent, but his service was marred by the manipulations and mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, who ruled in disguise as a human noblewoman. As heroes investigated Onyxia's manipulations, ancient foes surfaced in lands throughout the world to menace Horde and Alliance alike.[11]


World of Warcraft box cover

An original box cover for World of Warcraft

There have been nine expansions to World of Warcraft:

Additionally, World of Warcraft: Classic, released on 26/27 August 2019,[21] provides a way to experience the game as it was before any expansions, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic released on 1/2 June 2021, provides a way to experience the game as it was during its first expansion and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic released on 26/27 September 2022, provides a way to experience the game as it was during its second expansion but introducing new features like the Titan Rune Dungeons.

Over time, the game's expansions have been integrated into the base game. With the release of patch 9.0.1 released on October 13, 2020, all World of Warcraft subscribers (or those with game time) automatically have access to all of the content and features of all the expansions up to Battle for Azeroth at no additional cost. After Patch 10.0.0 was released on 25 October 2022 it was expanded by Shadowlands

Further story development is also made throughout its franchising, via online media, novels, comics, manga, RPG books, Trading Card Game, and board games.

Account levels[]

Main article: Account#World of Warcraft account levels
  • World of Warcraft: Free Trial - Try World of Warcraft for free - level to 20.
  • Veteran Edition - Accounts that had a subscription at one point that are currently inactive. It allows these accounts to use the same benefits and limitations as a free trial account.
  • Subscription / Game time (monthly payment). Also get access to the Classics.
  • Latest expansion release - requires subscription.


Player Customization[]

Gameplay System[]

General System
  • A casual-friendly character progression system.
  • In-game trading, mail service, auction system, text and voice chat.
  • Two server types: Normal and RP.
    • (two server types PvP, and RPPvP were removed with Battle for Azeroth)
PvE and PvP Systems
  • Continues and expands the lore from the Warcraft universe.
  • Streamlined questlines and NPC-voiced storytelling.
User Interface and Customer Support
  • Customize AddOn and Interface with some game commands support.
  • Client seamlessly supports both Mac and Windows operating systems. Linux users can play via Wine, however this is not supported and can be buggy at times.


  • North America (English-US - US & Canada).
    • Oceania (English-US - Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand).
    • Latin America (Spanish).
    • Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese, 2011).
  • Europe (English-UK, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese-Brazilian, Italian).
  • South Korea.
  • China (Simplified and Traditional Chinese; including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau).

Subscriber numbers[]

Subscribers chart

World of Warcraft Subscribers Chart.

World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers have fluctuated tremendously over the years. With a peak of 12 million monthly subscribers in October 2010,[22] World of Warcraft remains among the most popular MMORPGs[13][23] and holds the Guinness World Record for the world's most popular subscription-based MMORPG.[24][25][26][27] Though World of Warcraft had dropped to 7.4 million subscribers as of the release of patch 6.0.2[28], when the Warlords of Draenor expansion released a few weeks later it briefly jumped all the way back up to 10 million[29] before settling back down to 7.1 million.[30] In the final report in October 2015, there were 5.5 million subscribers.[31]

In January 2014 it was announced that more than 100 million accounts and 500 million characters had been created over the game's lifetime, with players in 244 different countries.[32][33]

In November 2015, Blizzard announced that they would no longer give regular updates of subscriber numbers, as they felt there were better performance metrics they could use.[34] For a graphical representation of subscriber numbers up to November 2015, click here.

Date Subscribers
December 2004 400 thousand
March 2005 1.5 million
June 2005 3.25 million
September 2005 4.25 million
December 2005 5.6 million
March 2006 6.4 million
June 2006 6.6 million
September 2006 7 million
January 2007 8 million
March 2007 8.5 million
June 2007 8.8 million
December 2007 9.75 million
February 2008 10.2 million
October 2008 11 million
December 2008 11.5 million
March 2009 11.5 million
December 2009 11.5 million
October 2010 12 million
March 2011 11.4 million
June 2011 11.1 million
September 2011 10.3 million
December 2011 10.2 million
July 2012 9.1 million
September 2012 10 million
December 2012 9.6 million
March 2013 8.3 million
June 2013 7.7 million
September 2013 7.6 million
December 2013 7.8 million
March 2014 7.6 million
July 2014 6.8 million
October 2014 7.4 million
November 2014 10 million
December 2014 10 million
March 2015 7.1 million
July 2015 5.6 million
November 2015 5.5 million

As of Q2 2021, World of Warcraft is among the three largest franchises of Activision Blizzard, alongside Call of Duty and Candy Crush.[35]


See also: World of Warcraft evolution guide


The history of World of Warcraft has its origins in Project Nomad. Accounts differ as to the timing of this project, some stating that work began on it after the release of StarCraft,[36] others that development on the game had begun prior to the "crunch period" of StarCraft's development, and as a result, developers were transferred to work on the RTS game.[37] Nomad itself was to be a sci-fi squad-based shooter, some of its developers taking inspiration from Necromunda, others from Final Fantasy.[38] Those in the former camp conceptualized a squad-based game where players would build up squads of soldiers, upgrade their abilities, find new guns, and go online to challenge other players' armies.[39] Its gameplay would be similar to that of the X-COM games.[40] Those in the latter camp wanted an adventure/RPG game.[39]

The lack of direction didn't help and the game was scrapped in favor of World of Warcraft.[38] During development, Kevin Beardslee and Bill Petras wanted to make something else entirely different from what Nomad was, specifically a more accessible version of EverQuest. Nomad was scrapped and development on World of Warcraft began two days later.[39]


Original World of Warcraft logo

First and original logo

Development of World of Warcraft was first announced in September 2001[41] at the ECTS tradeshow. There was little fanfare in the original announcement, and the original development team consisted of around fifty individuals.[42] Inspiration was taken from other MMOs such as Ultima Online and EverQuest, using the lore and characters of Warcraft as the basis for the setting. It would be a risky venture, as the company had grown used to games passing the 1 million sales mark, whereas EverQuest had peaked at the 500,000 subscriber mark. While a subscription fee would help recoup costs, there was unease as to whether the game's reception would be as positive as Blizzard's previous games,[43] and it was thought that the game would only appeal to pre-existing Warcraft fans.[42] Furthermore, few members of Blizzard had experience in developing MMOs, and while they enjoyed playing them, there was fears that the game would be overshadowed by Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest 2. When the game was first announced, members of the press often asked Blizzard as such, seeing them as "the RTS company."[44] By 2002, the game's visual design was being worked on.[45] There was initial pushback in Blizzard as to the Alliance/Horde faction divide, as some feared that some players wouldn't like it because they couldn't play with friends (if they chose different factions).[46]

Development of World of Warcraft led to the solidification of the "Warcraft style" (of artwork), according to Samwise Didier,[47] though the first shift towards said style occurred in-between Warcraft I and II.[48]

The game originally had a true to life day-night cycle, which dictated when events and spawns would happen. This idea was scrapped so that players wouldn't have to disrupt their real lives to do these time-specific activities.[49]

The game had a significant "crunch period" of development.[50]


Second World of Warcraft logo

Second logo

The game released in late 2004. Surpassing expectations, the game had reached 5 million subscribers by the end of 2005. Blizzard had to develop tech and customer support on the fly in order to keep up with the demand.[43] Not only was it well received by the critics,[51] but it also became the best selling PC Game of 2005 and 2006.[52] It was recognized at the 2005 Spike TV Video Game Awards where it won Best PC Game, Best Multiplayer Game, Best RPG, and Most Addictive Game.[53]

In 2007, Blizzard predicted that the game would last for five more years, which spurred them to develop Titan as their successive MMO.[54]

As of 2014, Blizzard's intended development pattern is to keep content at a relatively steady pace—still producing expansions, but with shorter gaps between content implementation.[55] The game has been likened to a sandbox with content being added over time.[56] Expansions are planned out in advance, with narrative threads in one expansion leading to events in the next.[57]

On October 30, 2014, lead designer Ion Hazzikostas stated that World of Warcraft will still be around at its 20th anniversary, in 2024.[58]

As of June 2016, the World of Warcraft team comprises around 235 people.[59]

System requirements[]

The system requirements for the game evolved a lot from its original version. Details of this evolution, and the current requirements, can be checked on this article.


World of Warcraft is inhabited by a large number of creatures. The following creatures were added in Vanilla World of Warcraft before the release of expansions:


And many creatures are added in each World of Warcraft expansion:




The gameplay video displayed is the first, released on November 23, 2004. Other videos were also made before the European release.

See also[]


  1. ^ The Activision/Blizzard Merger: Five Key Points. Industry News (2007-12-03). Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved on 2018-03-05.
  2. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Announces World of Warcraft Korean Release Date - January 18, 2005. Blizzard Entertainment (2005-01-17). Archived from the original on 2005-02-06.
  3. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Announces World of Warcraft "Street Date" - November 23, 2004. Blizzard Entertainment (2004-11-04). Archived from the original on 2004-11-10.
  4. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Announces World of Warcraft European Street Date – 11 February, 2005. Blizzard Entertainment (2005-02-11). Archived from the original on 2005-02-07.
  5. ^ World of Warcraft Launches in China. Blizzard Entertainment (2005-06-06). Archived from the original on 2005-06-10.
  6. ^ World of Warcraft to Launch in Singapore. Blizzard Entertainment (2005-07-21). Archived from the original on 2006-01-16.
  7. ^ World of Warcraft Launches In Region of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Blizzard Entertainment (2005-11-08). Archived from the original on 2005-12-11.
  8. ^ Blizzard Entertainment announces World of Warcraft. Games Fusion (2003-09-05). Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  9. ^ Fiction Timeline. Blizzard Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2010-12-04. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  10. ^ WoW official trailer
  11. ^ Story of Warcraft: chapter 8
  12. ^ World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade shatters day-1 sales record. Blizzard Entertainment (2007-01-23). Archived from the original on 2007-01-26. Retrieved on 2018-03-05.
  13. ^ a b World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Shatters Day-1 Sales Record. Blizzard Entertainment (2008-01-23). Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  14. ^ World of Warcraftft®: Cataclysm™ In Stores Starting December 7. Blizzard Entertainment (2010-10-04). Retrieved on 2010-10-04.
  15. ^ Mists of Pandaria Launches September 25, 2012 – Pre-Sales NOW OPEN. Blizzard Entertainment (2012-07-25). Archived from the original on 2018-03-05. Retrieved on 2018-03-15.
  16. ^ Warlords of Draenor Launches 11/13—Watch the Cinematic & Lords of War: Part One Now!. Blizzard Entertainment (2014-08-14). Retrieved on 2018-03-05.
  17. ^ Andy Chalk 2016-04-19. World of Warcraft: Legion will arrive in August. PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 2016-04-20. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  18. ^ Battle for Azeroth™: One Launch to Rule Them All. Blizzard Entertainment (2018-06-07). Retrieved on 2018-06-07.
  19. ^ Shadowlands: Story Trailer
  20. ^ World of Warcraft: Dragonflight Now Live!
  21. ^ Mike Minotti 2017-11-03. WoW Classic Launch and Testing Schedule. Venture Beat. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  23. ^ GigaOM Top 10 Most Popular MMOs. Gigaom (2007-06-13). Archived from the original on 2010-07-01. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  24. ^ Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition - Records - PC Gaming. Archived from the original on 2008-04-05. Retrieved on 2009-10-17.
  25. ^ [Craig]. Guinness World Records 2009, 241. “Most popular MMORPG game(sic) In terms of the number of online subscribers, World of Warcraft is the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), with 10 million subscribers as of January 2008.” 
  26. ^ Becky Williams 2009-08-24. Video: Backstage at BlizzCon 2009:Thousands of World of Warcraft fans descend on southern California for Blizzard's epic gaming convention. The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  27. ^ Mark Langshaw 2009-06-06. Guinness announces gaming world records. Digital Spy Limited. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  28. ^ WoW Up to 7.4 Million Subscribers. Retrieved on 2014-10-14.
  30. ^ WoW Down to 7.1 Million Subscribers. Retrieved on 2015-05-06.
  31. ^ Activision No Longer Has To Fear Declining 'World of Warcraft' Subscriptions. Forbes (2015-11-03). Archived from the original on 2015-11-03. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  32. ^ Blizzard reaches 100M lifetime World of Warcraft accounts. Polygon (2014-01-28). Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved on 2018-03-06.
  33. ^ World of Warcraft: Azeroth by the Numbers. Blizzard Entertainment (2014-01-28).
  34. ^ Blizzard Will No Longer Report World of Warcraft Subscriber Numbers
  35. ^ 2021-08-03, ACTIVISION BLIZZARD Q2 2021 INVESTORS CALL TRANSCRIPT. Blizzplanet, retrieved on 2021-08-04
  36. ^ Mike Morhaime, Phoenix995. 2008-10-11. Blizzcon 2008 Interview Mike Morhaime. Youtube. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  37. ^ 2018, Blizzard’s Project Nomad was partially eaten by StarCraft. PC Gamer, accessed on 2018-10-08
  38. ^ a b 2012-11-01, Author: Blizzard's Nomad gave way to World of Warcraft. Game Shack, retrieved on 2013-05-29
  39. ^ a b c 2012-11-01, Community Spotlight: The man behind the book of Blizzard. Shack News, retrieved on 2018-10-08
  40. ^ 2014-11-07, The Cancelled Games of Blizzard. CGM, retrieved on 2022-01-22
  41. ^ Web Archive - Fusion NET: Blizzard Entertainment Announces World of Warcraft.
  42. ^ a b 2018-05-09, ‘WOW’ Devs On Project Titan, South Park & Accidentally Making an MMO Phenomenon. Wikia, retrieved on 2018-05-13
  43. ^ a b Phillip Kolar. The Three Lives of Blizzard Entertainment. Polygon. Retrieved on 2014-10-04.
  44. ^ 2018-05-16, Jeff Kaplan of Blizzard Entertainment. AIAS, retrieved on 2018-06-21
  45. ^ 2015-05-27, BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Origins Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, retrieved on 2015-05-28
  46. ^ 2017-11-05, BEHIND BLIZZARD’S WORLDS PANEL. Blizzpro, retrieved on 2017-11-19
  47. ^ Forging Worlds: Stories Behind the Art of Blizzard Entertainment, pg. 12
  48. ^ Forging Worlds: Stories Behind the Art of Blizzard Entertainment, pg. 13
  49. ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy, pg. 57
  50. ^ 2019-06-28, Diablo 2 Legacy Recounted by Stay Awhile and Listen Author., retrieved on 2019-07-03
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ 2017-09-22, OVERWATCH: FROM CANCELLED PROJECT TO GAME OF THE YEAR - IGN EXPERT MODE EP. 3. IGN, retrieved on 2017-09-23
  55. ^ Blizzard on Revitalising World of Warcraft.
  56. ^ 2015-05-27, BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Origins Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, retrieved on 2015-05-30
  57. ^ BlizzCon Q&A Additional Questions. Blizzard Entertainment (2018-11-16). Archived from the original on 2018-11-17. Retrieved on 2018-11-23.
  58. ^ Colin Campbell 2014-10-30. Blizzard is planning on World of Warcraft still being around in 2024. Polygon. Retrieved on 2014-10-30.
  59. ^ Blizzard Talks World of Warcraft Legacy Servers And More (2016-06-10).
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External links[]