World Of Warcraft Turns 9 Years Old
This weekend brings another reminder of how very old you're getting. Saturday is the ninth anniversary of Blizzard's MMORPG World of Warcraft.
WoW debuted on November 23rd, 2004 in North America and Australia. That day, in turn, was a milestone: the 10th anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the real-time strategy game that began the Warcraft franchise.
"It’s been nine years since World of Warcraft opened its gates—nine years since fledgling heroes from all walks of life spoke to their first quest giver and began their journey through Azeroth, unaware of where those first steps would ultimately take them," Blizzard said today on the WoW website. "Nine years is a long time for any voyage, and we couldn’t have hoped for a more dedicated and passionate community to come on this adventure with us."
"World of Warcraft wouldn’t be what it is today without you: the players who celebrate your passion for the game every day and share your own Azeroth-enhancing contributions with one another. From creating awe-inspiring costumes for BlizzCon to talking complex raid strategies on podcasts, from building fansites to making amazing machinima, the World of Wacraft community has forged a culture and language uniquely its own."
In spite of its age, WoW is still the largest MMORPG in the world. As of early November, the game boasts over 7.6 million subscribers. That's well below the peak subscriber count of 12 million from 2010 but still a huge number. Any developer would love to have 7.6 million paying a monthly fee for their game.
The subscriber has been steadily declined over the past few years but tends to spike back up a bit whenever an expansion is released. Blizzard has released fifth expansions thus far and the sixth, Warlords of Draenor, should arrive in 2014. Designer Greg Street recently said that the company may begin releasing expansions on an annual basis to retain subscribers.
Many have expected WoW to go free-to-play, just as many rival MMO's have. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime says that they have no plans to do so, though. The development team is instead focusing its attention on making the game more inviting to new or former players. For example, an ex-subscriber who is invited back to the game by a friend will get a free level 80 character.
If you're currently a subscriber, you can celebrate the WoW's 9th anniversary within the game. If you log in between now and December 1st, you'll receive a special Feat of Strength related to the anniversary. You'll also get a Celebration Package. When used, the Celebration Package will shoot off a commemorative firework. It will also apply a temporary "WOW" tabard to your character and give you a 9% bonus to experience and reputation gains.
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