World of Warcraft
WoW Box Art1
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s) Vivendi Universal
Designer(s) Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, Tom Chilton
Version US 2.3.3 (2008-01-22)
EU 2.3.3 (2008-01-23)
Platform(s) Mac OS X, Windows
Release date NA / AUS November 23 2004
EU February 112005[1]
Genre(s) Fantasy MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: T (Teen)
PEGI: 12+
USK: 12
Media 4 CDs (5 for the game of the year edition), 1 DVD, download
System requirements Windows


  • Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer
  • 933 MHz or higher G4, or G5, or Intel processor
  • 512 MB RAM or higher
  • ATI or NVIDIA video card with 32 MB Video RAM or more
  • 6.0 GB free HD space
  • 4× CD-ROM drive
  • 56 kbit/s or faster Internet connection[2]
Input methods Keyboard, mouse

World of Warcraft (commonly known as WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It is Blizzard Entertainment's fourth game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994.[3] World of Warcraft takes place within the world of Azeroth, four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001.[4] The game was released on November 23, 2004, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. It is currently the world's largest MMORPG in terms of monthly subscribers.[5][6][7]

The first official expansion pack of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. During the 2007 BlizzCon event, Blizzard announced a second expansion pack called Wrath of the Lich King on August 3, 2007.[8] The release date of Wrath of the Lich King has not yet been announced.


Unlike previous games in the Warcraft series, World of Warcraft is a MMORPG, not a real-time strategy game. As with other MMORPGs, people control a character avatar within a persistent game world, exploring the landscape, fighting monsters, performing quests, building skills, and interacting with NPCs, as well as other players. The game rewards success with money, items, experience and reputation, all of which in turn allow players to improve their skill and power. Players can level up their characters from level one to level 60, level 70 if they have The Burning Crusade expansion. Upon release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, players will be able to attain level 80 after purchasing the expansion.[8] In addition, players may opt to take part in battles against other players of an enemy faction, in PvP battlegrounds or in normal world zones subject to the rules in place on the particular server. Duels can also be fought between members of the same or opposing factions, although these do not provide tangible rewards. Many players also choose to join guilds. Short-term parties and raid groups can be formed to conduct raids against enemy territories and instances.


There are two types of characters in the game: Player Characters (PCs, or simply "characters") and Non-Player Characters (NPCs). A Player Character is an avatar in the world of Azeroth that is controlled by a player. The color of a PC's name tag can be blue, green, yellow or red, depending on faction and Player vs. Player (PvP) status. Non-Player Characters are controlled by the game software and can only interact with PCs through scripted events or artificial intelligence (AI).

There are three types of NPCs. Friendly NPCs, whose names are displayed in green, cannot attack friendly characters and vice versa. Hostile NPCs, whose names are in red, are either of the opposing faction or are mobs (enemies controlled by AI) and will freely attack any PC with whom they are hostile. Neutral NPCs, whose names are displayed in yellow, are neutral and will only attack if provoked. Some NPC interaction is affected by the reputation a PC has with them.

NPCs in major and minor cities can buy and sell merchandise, train class and profession skills, give quests and provide a large number of services that are needed in the game. While some will merely offer advice or further the story, others, such as city guards, patrol around set paths to keep cities defended against attacking PCs or hostile NPCs that may attempt to invade.

When creating a character in World of Warcraft, the player can choose from ten different races in two factions: Alliance and Horde. Race determines the character's appearance, starting location, and initial skill set, called "racial traits".

Draenei [9] and Blood Elf characters were introduced in The Burning Crusade, and require that expansion in order to be created.

In addition to the ten playable races, there are many NPC races including (but not limited to) Goblins, Ogres, Murlocs, and Naga.


The game has nine character classes that a player can choose from, though not all classes are available for each race. Each class has a set of unique abilities and talents. Abilities are general skills and spells available to the entire class, while talents allow players to specialize their character and further refine their role. Each class has a set of three talent trees. Depending on class, players may choose to build their character's talent trees for damage-dealing (also called damage-per-second, or DPS), healing, tanking, or a mix of these.[10] Some classes, known as "hybrid classes," are able to perform different roles depending on a group's needs.[11]

The nine available classes in World of Warcraft are:

A nature-oriented class capable of fulfilling the role of damage-dealer, tank, or healer. The druid can shape-shift into many forms to increase its combat or movement abilities, including a bear (for tanking), a cat (for melee combat), a sea lion (for water travel), and a Cheetah for fast land travel. In humanoid form, the druid can cast a variety of healing or damaging spells.
A combination of a marksman/archer and animal specialist, the hunter specializes in ranged damage dealt by means of a bow, crossbow, or gun with the help of an animal pet. The hunter also employs a series of traps for damaging or disabling enemies.
  • Mage (Damage class)
The wizard-esque damage-dealer of World of Warcraft, the mage employs spells of the "arcane", fire, and frost elements. They have minimal armor. Mages can also conjure food and water to replenish group members, and teleport themselves and others to most major cities.
A heavily armored holy warrior. Like druids, paladins can specialize to fulfill each of the three major roles in World of Warcraft. (See also: Paladin (character class).)
A lightly armored class that can protect and heal allies (with "Holy" spells) or bring harm to enemies (with "Shadow" spells).
A shadowy assassin that can "stealth" to avoid being seen by enemies (providing near-invisibility). The rogue deals damage by dual-wielding small mêlée weapons, and also provides traditional thief skills like lock-picking, pickpocketing, and poisoning.
Unlike other hybrid classes (paladins and druids), the totem-wielding shaman's tanking abilities are quite limited. However, they can specialize to become effective healers, or damage dealers using either mêlée weapons or spells.
A sinister combination of the mage and the hunter, the warlock deals magical damage like a mage, but also has demonic "pets" (called minions) like hunters. Depending on their specialization, the warlock's damaging spells can come chiefly in the form of "damage over time" spells that, after being placed on an enemy, slowly deal damage, or in the form of direct damage spells that deal damage all at once, as those of a mage or shaman do.
A heavily armored class, the warrior is a general mêlée fighter who can wield any non-magical weapon in the game.

The Paladin class was previously only available to the Alliance, and the Shaman only available to the Horde. Now, with the release of The Burning Crusade, the Draenei (Alliance) are able to be shamans and the Blood Elves (Horde) are able to be paladins, removing the previous faction exclusivity. In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, a tenth class known as the Death Knight will be added, which will also be the game's first Hero class. [8]

Items and equipment

Player characters can acquire various items in the game. Items can vary from resources such as herbs or raw ores to items to be retrieved for quests. Player characters can also equip different weapons and armor, either to customize their character or to improve abilities (such as better attack or defense skills). Item rarity is classified by the color of the item name: grey means "poor" (otherwise known as "vendor trash"), white means "common", green means "uncommon", blue means "rare", purple means "epic" and orange means "legendary". [12]


A mount refers to an item or spell that, when activated, summons an animal or machine for the character to ride upon. Characters of certain levels and skill ability can acquire these mounts in order to increase their movement speed on land. Mounts can be acquired via reputation with certain factions, completion of quests, through special items produced via professions, or as very rare loot drops obtained by defeating bosses in instances. In the expansion pack The Burning Crusade, the ability to purchase or acquire flying mounts became available in the expansion areas.

Each playable race enjoys a certain mount type strongly associated with their race. Trolls have access to raptors, Tauren ride kodos, Undead have skeletal steeds, Orcs ride Wolves, Night Elves ride Saber Cats of all kinds, Humans ride horses, Dwarves ride rams, and Gnomes enjoy a mechanical ostrich donned the Mechanostrider. With the release of The Burning Crusade, the Blood Elves acquired a large bird, the Hawkstrider, and the Draenei gained the Elleks (Elephant-like mammals).


During the course of playing the game, players may choose to develop side skills for their character(s). These non-combat skills are called professions. Professions are divided into two categories, primary and secondary.

Primary professions are skills related to the creation and enhancement of weapons and armor, and can be subdivided into gathering and crafting professions. The gathering professions in WoW are Herbalism, Mining, and Skinning. Crafting professions include Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting (added in The Burning Crusade expansion), and Inscription (to be added in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion[8]). Crafting professions also have specialization categories that when trained, allow for more diverse items to be created, depending on the character's direction in the game. There is also the Enchanting profession, which allows a character to enchant weapons and armor, and also disenchant magical items in his or her possession. A character is limited to two primary professions.

Secondary professions are skills that serve to enhance the player's experience and self-sufficiency. The secondary professions are First Aid, Cooking and Fishing. Characters can learn all three secondary professions. The Rogue class has two unique secondary professions: Poisons and Lock Picking.

PvP rankings

Upon defeating another player of the opposite faction in player versus player (PvP) combat the victor earns "Honor Points". Another activity, Battlegrounds, is designed for team PvP: a loss in a battleground awards the losing team 1 "mark of honor", while a victory awards the winning team 3. Honor Points and marks may be spent as currency to purchase various rewards like armor, weapons and mounts. These rankings were removed during the patch 2.0.1 in the Honor System Revamp. But you may display your highest lifetime rank title.

The Arenas,[13] added in The Burning Crusade, offer gladiator-like combat in a World of Warcraft setting. The Arenas have a separate system from the Battlegrounds. Instead of honor, the Arenas give "Arena Points" which can be spent to purchase items in a manner similar to Honor Points. Only level 70 players can participate in rated arena matches. Lower level players can always participate in arenas but no arena points are awarded.

There are also "Arena seasons". At the end of each season the best Arena teams in each category (2 versus 2, 3 versus 3 and 5 versus 5) are rewarded with titles.[14] From highest to lowest these ranks are Gladiator, Duelist, Rival and Challenger.


The reputation system is complex and can have direct impact on character advancement. In World of Warcraft, there are many groups of NPCs known as "factions". The two primary factions are the Alliance and the Horde, and each one features a large number of sub-factions primarily based on race and geographic location. Characters' reputation with a faction can be increased or decreased by killing certain mobs, completing quests, or handing in items to certain NPCs. Higher reputation can grant many benefits to characters including reduced prices from vendors, the ability to purchase unique items including specialized mounts, and expanded access to certain areas of the game.

However, characters cannot gain reputation with opposing factions, so a Horde character cannot gain reputation with any Alliance-only faction and vice versa. There are also diametrically opposed factions in which gaining reputation with one will result in loss of reputation with another.

The Armory

As of March 2007, Blizzard added "The Armory"[15] to their web site. The Armory allows everyone to view any WoW character's statistics, reputation, skills, talents, arena teams and guild information. Only characters of level 10 or greater are displayed in the Armory. It also allows the ability to look up even more detailed information about any guild from any server in addition to any item in the game.


World of Warcraft uses server clusters (known as "realms") to allow players to choose their preferred gameplay type and to allow the game to support as many subscribers as it does. There are four types of realms: Normal (also known as PvE or player versus environment), PvP (player versus player), RP (a roleplaying Normal/PvE server) and RP-PvP (roleplaying PvP server):

  • Normal
On the Normal (also know as PvE, Player versus Environment) realms throughout most of the world players cannot attack or be attacked by each other, except by actively enabling the character's PvP flag, attacking a PvP-flagged character, entering a "PvP Territory" (such as a Battleground) or an enemy faction Capital City, or casting a positive spell on a friendly PvP-flagged character. The PvP flag is removed after 5 minutes from the last PvP action. If the PvP flag was enabled using the command the player will need to turn it off using the same command and then avoid PvP combat for 5 minutes.
  • PVP (Player versus Player)
On a PvP realm, players are flagged for PvP by default. This flag is only disabled when a character is in a friendly faction city or a zone dedicated to newly created characters. All other zones are considered "contested territory" where players are automatically flagged for PvP upon entering. Most players will not need to enter a contested zone until roughly level 20.
On PvP servers, a player is limited to creating characters on one faction. This is in contrast to PvE servers, where a player may create characters from both factions.
The PvP servers also feature a more "hands–off" approach to server policies, facilitating the state of open war in these servers. Thus, The in-game GMs will deal with PvP related offenses differently than on the PvE realms, and some player actions are allowed to occur.[16] These actions include, but are not limited to, corpse camping, ganking, and other PvP related sections of Blizzard's harassment policy.
  • RP (Roleplaying)
The roleplaying servers use the same ruleset as PvE realms, with the exception that players must act and behave in character, and must follow "naming rules" when they name their character. On these realms, players act and speak as their characters would, and anything said out of character is usually preceded by "OOC:" or presented in ((double parentheses)). It is also against the rules to be off-topic in all public channels, such as General and Trade.[17]
  • RP-PvP (Roleplaying Player versus Player)
The roleplaying PvP realms are an extension to the role-playing realms that use the PvP ruleset instead of the Normal (PvE) ruleset. Blizzard did not initially have this server type when the game was launched; it was added later.[18]
  • Public test realm
A public test realm, also called a test server, is used to test features in development for the next patch. Players can copy a character to the test realm or can sometimes copy a premade character. Players on test realms may encounter character wipes, item wipes, or frequent downtime to make changes or apply patches.

Users may have up to ten characters per realm and up to a maximum of fifty characters per account.[19] Characters can be moved between realms in the same region (e.g., from one European server to another, but not from a European server to an American one) for a fee.

Blizzard posts announcements on the login screen of World of Warcraft and on the official forums about realm status or other technical issues. The status for each realm can also be viewed on their main website.

Voice chat

In patch 2.2.0, Blizzard introduced an in-game voice chat feature. This feature is intended to complement the traditional text chat with a more efficient means of communication between players. Similar to text chat, voice chat is limited to communications between characters of the same faction. Channels can be set for various purposes such as groups, instances, raids, battlegrounds or general zones. Players may also join, create and moderate their own channels.[20] Players may enable this feature through the in-game options; no third-party applications are needed. Options for "push-to-talk" and "voice activated" modes are available. A microphone and speaker are required and, as with other similar voice chat products, a head-set which includes a built in microphone and headphones is recommended.

2008 Arena Tournament

Early in 2008 Blizzard announced they would be creating multiple Arena Realms in conjunction with patch 2.4, this realm would be to give anyone that considered themselves skilled enough to compete against one and other. these realms are completely separate from the current arena season rewards and give cash rewards instead. In order to be eligible for the rewards of this tournament the player must compete in various matches and meet requirements set by Blizzard.[21]



WoW Map Cosmic

World of Warcraft Cosmic Map (Including 'Outland')

The current virtual world consists of two planets, Azeroth and Draenor (also known as "Outland"). Azeroth consists of two main continents, the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Located to the northwest of Kalimdor are the Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles, and Teldrassil.

Kalimdor contains the starting areas for the Orc, Troll, and Tauren races of the Horde. The Night Elves and Draenei of the Alliance both begin in areas off the coast of Kalimdor (Teldrassil and Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles respectively). The Night Elves have the capability to move to the mainland fairly early as well. The Eastern Kingdoms contain the beginning areas for the Undead and Blood Elves of the Horde, as well as the Humans, Dwarves and Gnomes of the Alliance.

Draenor, added with the release of The Burning Crusade, is only accessible to those who have purchased and activated the expansion pack. It is reached through the Dark Portal in the south of the Eastern Kingdoms or through in-game teleportation. Draenor was the original home of the Orcs and was also inhabited by the Draenei for over 200 years.

The Wrath of the Lich King expansion will add the continent of Northrend in the northern region of Azeroth and will be available exclusively to those players who purchase and activate that expansion pack.[8]


Instances, also known as instance dungeons or simply "dungeons", are areas where multiple copies of the same area can exist concurrently.[22] This means that multiple groups can both be doing the same activities in the same location, yet not interfere with one another.

"Instance" can also refer to a particular copy of such an area. Other areas such as battlegrounds are also instances, enabling multiple groups of players to participate at the same time. Instances other than battlegrounds can hold as many as forty different players each, pitting them against dragons or other creatures of greater power.

Major in-game events

In an effort to further players' enjoyment and create common goals for large groups to accomplish[23], game developers added World Events into the game. The first world events were outdoor raid bosses that could be challenged without entering an instance. These bosses were the blue dragon Azuregos of Azshara and the Burning Legion demon Lord Kazzak in the Blasted Lands. These were followed by four green dragons corrupted by the "Emerald Nightmare." In addition, certain areas of Azeroth experience an "elemental invasion" where waves of elemental-class monsters will run rampant for a time or until they are destroyed.

Blizzard has also implemented holiday content. Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, as well as New Year's and its lunar counterpart all have their Warcraft-themed counterparts. During these week-long events players partake in holiday-themed quests usually involving humorous references to real-world pop culture surrounding the holiday. For example, one of the Winter's Veil (Christmas) quests involves fighting a creature known as the Greench (a parody of the Grinch) and rescuing a kidnapped reindeer named Metzen (styled after lead designer, Chris Metzen). Some world events are designed to repeat themselves on a regular basis such as the Darkmoon Faire. Others have been a one-time event that marked a large change in the in-game world like the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, the Scourge Invasion and the opening of the Dark Portal which signaled the beginning of The Burning Crusade expansion, along with other less notable events.[23]

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 an ancient tribe of jungle trolls under the sway of the ancient Blood God, Hakkar the Soulflayer. Upon engaging Hakkar, players were stricken by a debuff (a spell that negatively affects a player) called "Corrupted Blood" which would periodically sap their life. The disease would also be passed on to other players who were simply standing close to an infected person. Originally this malady was confined within the Zul'Gurub instance but made its way into the outside world by way of hunter or warlock pets that contracted the disease.

Within hours Corrupted Blood had infected entire cities such as Ironforge and Orgrimmar 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 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 [24].


World of Warcraft was first announced by Blizzard at the ECTS trade show in September 2001.[25] Development of the game took about five years with extensive testing done to make sure everything was ready for launch. The 3-D graphics in WoW use elements of the proprietary graphics engine originally used in Warcraft III.[25] The game was designed to be an open environment where players are allowed to do what they please, alongside optional quests that players can complete to advance further in the game.[26] In addition, the quests were made to help guide players to spread across different zones to try to avoid what developers called 'player collision'. [27] The game interface was also designed to be easy to use allowing players to customize areas to their likings and also allows for add-ons and other modifications.[28]

Version history

World of Warcraft runs natively on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. Boxed copies of the game use a hybrid CD to install the game, eliminating the need for separate Mac and Windows retail products. The game allows all users to play together, regardless of their operating system. Although there is no official version for any other platform, support for World of Warcraft is present in Windows API implementations Wine and Cedega, allowing the game to be played under Linux.[29] and FreeBSD

Patch 1.9.3 added native support for Intel-powered Macs, making World of Warcraft a Universal application (as defined by Apple). As a result of this, the minimum supported Mac OS X version has been changed to 10.3.9; World of Warcraft version 1.9.3 and later will not launch on older versions of Mac OS X.[30]

Due to the fact that new content is constantly being added to the game official system requirements often change. In version 1.12.0 the requirements for Windows were increased from requiring 256 MB to 512 MB of RAM. Official Windows 98 technical support was dropped, even though the game continued to run fine until version 2.2.3.[31] After version 2.2.3, the official patches to version 2.3.0 failed on operating systems earlier than Windows 2000. By knowledgeably using an old update executable with new patch data, Windows 98 and Windows ME users could update from 2.2.3 using one of the released patches. Once successfully upgraded, the new version of the game then worked with Windows ME, although version 2.3.0 did not work with Windows 98 Second Edition unless applying updates to the operating system, including an unofficial third party's operating system modifications.[32]



The current login screen, as of the release of the The Burning Crusade

World of Warcraft is priced differently in different regions of the world. Usually, the pricing model is similar to that of MMORPGs previously released in the market.

In the United States and Canada, Blizzard distributes World of Warcraft via retail software packages that originally had a suggested retail price of US$$49.99 at the time of release,[33] but have since dropped to $19.99. The software package includes 30 days of gameplay (worth $15) for no additional cost. In order to continue playing after the initial 30 days, additional play time must be purchased using a credit card or prepaid game card. The minimum gameplay duration that a player can purchase is 30 days using a credit card, or 60 using a prepaid game card. A player also has the option of purchasing three or six months of gameplay at once for a slight (6% to 15%) discount. A player pays about US$0.50 for one day of gameplay.[34]

In South Korea, there is no software package or CD key requirement to activate the account. In order to play the game, however, players need to purchase time credits online via credit card or the ARS billing system. The minimum gameplay duration that a player can purchase via credit card is five hours. A player may also purchase game time by thirty hours or by increments of one week. A player also has the option of purchasing game time by one, three, or six months of gameplay at once for a slight discount.[35] As of December 17 2006, 30 days of gameplay costs 19,800 (US$21.46).

In China, because a large number of the players do not own the computer they use to play games (e.g. Internet cafes), the CD keys can be purchased independently of the software package. The CD key, which is required to activate an account, is sold for ¥30 (US$3.75) each. The software packages vary in price depending on the items they contain. In order to play the game, players must purchase prepaid game cards in denominations of ¥30 each that can be played for 66 hours and 40 minutes.[36] This equates to exactly ¥0.45 (US$0.06) for one hour of gameplay. A monthly fee model is not available to players of this region.

In Australia, the United States, and many European countries, video game stores commonly stock the trial version of World of Warcraft in DVD form priced at A$2 or 2 including VAT, which include the game and 14 days of gameplay, after which the player would have to upgrade to a retail account by supplying a valid credit card, or purchasing a game card as well as a retail copy of the game.

Suggested Retail Price Monthly Fee Paid Character Transfer Fee
Europe €19.99[37] €11-€13[37] €19.99[38]
United Kingdom £14.99[37] £7.70-£9[37] £14.99[38]
North America
US$20[39] $13-$15[40] $25[41]

Players may also change their character's name for the price of $10US, €8 or £6.

In the United Kingdon in February 2008, the Halifax Bank claimed that stolen credit card details were regularly being used to fraudulently pay for World of Warcraft accounts[42]. A statement from the bank read that a "significant number of fraudulent transactions through Blizzard's gaming sites" had been observed. As a result, the Bank has stated that transactions with Blizzard will be blocked by default, requesting that customers contact them directly to authorise payments.

World of Warcraft Launcher

World of Warcraft Launcher 1.1 (11)

World of Warcraft Launcher

The World of Warcraft Launcher (referred to in press releases and the menu bar as the "Blizzard Launcher") is a program designed to act as a starting point for World of Warcraft players. It was first included with the version 1.8.3 patch. The 2.1.0 patch allowed for an option to bypass the use of the launcher. Features of the launcher include news and updates for World of Warcraft players, access to World of Warcraft's support website, access to the test version of World of Warcraft when it is live on the test servers in order to test upcoming patches, updates to Warden,[43] and updates to the updater itself.

The World of Warcraft Launcher’s built-in trojan and cheat-program scanner, named Warden, is considered as an additional level of security and is particularly used to protect the customer’s interests by continuously monitoring hidden malicious programs (also referred to as "Malware") which collect client’s information such as account names and passwords. It does not report any information back to Blizzard, but if a bypass is made and World of Warcraft runs with a cheat program, a player risks having their account closed if the cheat is detected while they are playing.

Virtual community

In addition to playing the game itself and conversing on discussion forums provided by Blizzard, World of Warcraft players often participate in the World of Warcraft virtual community in creative ways, including fan artwork[44] and comic strip style storytelling.[45] Blizzard furthers this community by offering in-game and out-of-game prizes, as well as highlighting community events and occurrences. Blizzard has also provided incentives for introducing new members to World of Warcraft. In late October 2005 each subscribed player received a 10-day free pass[46] which they suggested be employed as seasonal gifts that could either be used by the current player or given to a friend. These passes would generate a free month's usage if the guest player purchased a full account.

There are various memes, including "Face Melting,"[47] a reference to a very long thread on the priest forums on the World of Warcraft website that consisted of players saying, "You will melt faces as a Shadow Priest in PvP" in different ways. This is because the icon for Mind Flay, a powerful skill used heavily by Shadow Priests, looks like a melting face. Another popular phenomenon in the community are machinima videos such as the one[48] starring a player named Leeroy Jenkins, showing him and his guild in a comedic encounter. Leeroy's popularity inspired more videos and tributes in other games, and he was even part of a clue on the November 16 2005 episode of the TV game show College Jeopardy!.[49] These memes gain notoriety through postings on the World of Warcraft Forums.[50]

As of August 2005, the Dark Iron server has been home to the guilds of web-comic creators Scott Kurtz (PvP) and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade). Kurtz created Panda Attack and Djörk on the Horde side, while Holkins and Krahulik initiated a series of guilds that is now known as the Penny Arcade Alliance. This event is referred to as the Comic Guild Wars, and has created healthy competition between the authors, to the extent of dedicating some of their strips to the subject. Tim Buckley of Ctrl+Alt+Del and the creators of Holy Bibble have also joined in on making guilds for Dark Iron players.


See also: Mod (computer gaming)
Modified WoW User Interface

Comparison of a default World of Warcraft user interface (Top) to a heavily modified one.(Bottom)

World of Warcraft includes significant support for modifications to the user interface (UI) of a game, colloquially known as "mods" and "addons". At a simple level it allows full control over the content of toolbars and hot keys, as well as macros to automate sets of operations and the ability to script much more elaborate tools. The range of modifications that are available can be anything from ways to automatically advertise trade skills, to adding extra rows of button bars for spells, skills and more, to one designed for humorous intent, such as one that reproduces the infamous Leeroy Jenkins sound.[51] The 2.0 release of World of Warcraft changed the way that an addon interacts with the game, causing certain modifications and addons to no longer function as intended. This meant that all addons designed before the patch needed to be rewritten, or they would not work.

Addons in World of Warcraft are coded using one or both Lua and XML, and images used for modifications are created using the .TGA (Targa) and .BLP image formats. Blizzard has also released a User Interface Customization tool to support and encourage UI modders.[52] However, Blizzard is unable to endorse or provide support for third party interfaces due to issues that may be caused by them.

Some third-party programs that operate in a stand-alone mode, or independent of World of Warcraft, may be considered exploits, especially if they automate operation beyond that made available using the built-in macro functionality, or pass information in or out of the game. Use of these is against the Terms of Service agreed to when playing the game, and as such, may lead to possible suspension or closure of accounts. Blizzard has stated on the official forums that any modification that uses the Lua programming language will not be considered an exploit, though Blizzard reserves the right to change information available via the Lua language if the modification changes the nature of encounters in the game.[53]


Although its initial release was hampered by overpopulated servers,[54] the game became a financial success.[55][56] Critics gave the game very favorable reviews. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 92% based on 70 reviews.[57] On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 93 out of 100, based on 57 reviews.[58] The game has been consistently ranked as one of the best by review sites and has won numerous awards, including GameSpot's Game of the Year Award for 2004 and IGNs Editor's Choice Award.[59][60][61]

World of Warcraft was the best-selling PC game of 2005 and 2006.[62] As of January 22 2008, World of Warcraft has surpassed 10 million subscribers worldwide, with more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America, and about 5.5 million in Asia.[63]

Controversy and criticism

Main article: Criticism of World of Warcraft

Despite its popularity, WoW has been criticized for a number of reasons.

Game addiction

Stories of game addiction are a common source of criticism of WoW, earning it the nickname "World of Warcrack".[64] In June 2005 it was reported that a child had died due to neglect by her World of Warcraft-addicted parents in Korea.[65] In August of that year, the government of the People's Republic of China proposed new rules to curb what they perceived to be social and financial costs brought on by the popularity of games such as World of Warcraft. The measure would enforce a time limit on China's estimated total of 20 million gamers.[66] The Chinese government and The9, the licensee for World of Warcraft in China, have likewise 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.[67]

Dr. Maressa Orzack, a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, was interviewed August 8, 2006, stating that of the 6 million subscribers "I'd say that 40 percent of the players are addicted."[68] The 40% figure was not derived from a scientific study overseen by Dr. Orzack, but rather came from "a forum that Nick Yee runs". She added in an August 2006 interview that "even if the percentage is 5 to 10 percent which is standard for most addictive behaviors, it is a huge number of people who are out of control."[69] Also, according to Dr. John Grohol, a colleague of Orzack's, "Dr. Orzack is not claiming that up to 40 percent of World of Warcraft gamers are addicted based upon any actual evidence or surveys of players. This is just her opinion, based upon her own experience and observation of the problem."[70]

Spam problems

After Blizzard started offering free trial gameplay accounts, players started receiving increasing numbers of spam sent by bots in the virtual mailboxes of their characters, advertising virtual gold, honor, and experience selling services.[71] One study shows that this problem is particularly prevalent on the European realms.[72] 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 them), participating in in-game trades, using the Auction House and the mail feature, and several other limitations. Though this has drastically reduced the number of spamming incidents, many offenders still attempt to get attention in the more populous regions in the game, such as major cities.

Impact on popular culture

WoW is frequently referenced in popular culture. One example is the Emmy Award winning South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft." [73] In the Louisville World Series of Video Games competition, World of Warcraft was a featured game.[74] WoW itself also contains references to pop culture within the game.[75] The game has also been used to advertise unrelated products, such as Toyota trucks.[76] 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.

WoW has inspired a board game produced by Fantasy Flight Games, as well as a trading card game produced by Upper Deck Entertainment.

In November 2007, DC Comics published the first issue of the ongoing World of Warcraft comic under their Wildstorm imprint.[77]

Film adaptation

In May 2006, production company Legendary Pictures acquired film rights to adapt Warcraft for the big screen with the game's publisher, Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard had originally considered hiring a scribe for the film adaptation before teaming up with Legendary Pictures.[78] The companies plan to create a film that would not follow one specific Warcraft game's storyline, but would still take place in the fantasy universe.[79] According to Blizzard's Chief Operating Officer Paul Sams, the film's budget would be over $100 million.[80]

In June 2007, Legendary Pictures chairman Thomas Tull said that the studio was working closely with Blizzard's designers and writers to adapt World of Warcraft. Tull explained the desire to have a good story for the film adaptation, "I think some of the stuff that makes a game translate well... if there's a lore, if there's a road and story and a world that's been created, and characters that are interesting in a way that's more than just point and shoot."[81] World of Warcraft's lead designer Rob Pardo expressed interest in being able to adapt the intellectual property of World of Warcraft to the appropriate medium of the film. He also added that the designers were collaborating with Legendary Pictures on story and script development.[82]

In August 2007, at BlizzCon, it was unveiled that the film will aim for a projected 2009 release. It was also revealed that the movie will take place from an Alliance perspective and will be geared towards a PG-13 audience, with a storyline set one year before the beginning of the World of Warcraft storyline. As of this time no director or cast are yet associated with its development. Thomas Tull stated that, "It’s not so much a quest movie. It’s more of a war movie."[83]

See also

WoW in other media


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External links

Official websites
Information for players
Link Directories

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