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Blizzard probably plans to announce the launch window for World of Warcraft: Legion during BlizzCon this weekend. However, some big details about the game's release leaked tonight.

Reddit users noticed a splash page on Battle.net that tells us some crucial details about Legion. For starters, it says that the expect release date for Legion is "on or before September 21, 2016." That's a lot later than a lot of WoW players were probably hoping for.

It's probably a later release date than Blizzard wants, too. World of Warcraft has lost close to half of their subscribers since December 2014. The new content from patches 6.2 and 6.22 have slowed these losses but they're not bringing players back.

If Blizzard wants a rebound for WoW, they need a new expansion pack. Expansions have historically caused big spikes in the player base. Warlords of Draenor brought the game's population from 7.4 million to 10 million. A September release date for Legion, though, means that the game will be bleeding subscribers for ten more months.

The glass-half-full interpretation, though, is that Blizzard is overestimating how far away Legion is. Maybe they plan to release the expansion pack by the early summer and they're just saying September to manage expectations. When Blizzard opened up Warlords of Draenor pre-purchases, they promised the expansion would be available "on or before 12/20/2014" but ended up releasing it over a month earlier. That's reason enough to hope that Legion will launch before next fall.

Another interested tidbit from the leaked Battle.net image concerns pre-orders. Ordering Legion in advance will entitle the player to an instant level 100 character boost - which we already knew - but that's not all. Pre-order customers will also get access to the new Demon Hunter class at least a week before the expansion's launch. That's a brand-new kind of incentive and, in my opinion, a desirable one. Players are always bored to shit right before a new expansion so many would jump at the chance to play a Demon Hunter early.

The other launch details are less surprising but still important. Players pre-purchasing the expansion through Blizzard will have a choice between a $49.99 Standard Edition and $69.99 Digital Deluxe Edition. The latter comes with these in-game extras:
  • Illidari Felstalker mount for World of Warcraft
  • Nibbles pet for WoW
  • Felstalker mount for Heroes of the Storm
  • Illidan-style wings for Diablo 3
  • Demonic portraits for StarCraft 2