World of Warcraft (also called WoW) is a star amongst the current crop of massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It is produced by Blizzard Entertainment (a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard). Warcraft already had a long history of success in the gaming market before taking on the world of MMORPG. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth and was released on November 23, 2004 (the 10th anniversary of the inception of the Warcraft franchise).
The online version has had a number of expansion since 2004. The first was "The Burning Crusade" released on January 16, 2007. The second was "Wrath of the Lich King" released on November 13, 2008 and the third expansion was "Cataclysm" announced at BlizzCon 2009 and released as a closed beta in June 2010.
World of Warcraft had more than 11.5 million monthly subscriptions in December 2008 and remains the world's most-subscribed MMORPG today. It holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG and in April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62% of the MMORPG subscription market.
As with any RPG, players control a named character within the online 3D gameworld. Characters explore the landscape, fight a verietyof monsters, complete quests, and interact with both computer controlled and player controlled characters. Players pay a ongoing subscription to play the game either by buying prepaid game cards for a selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a monthly basis.
Players play in a specific realm or server which contains an individual copy of the gameworld. Each server is one of four types: Player versus Player (PvP), Player versus Environment (PvE), Roleplay (RP) and Roleplay-PvP (RP-PVP). Realms are also categorized by language, with in-game support in the language available. Players can either make seperate characters in each realm or pay move already existing characters between them.
Players must choose between the opposing factions of Alliance (Humans or Dwarves) or Horde (Orcs or Trolls). Players from the opposing factions can perform basic communication, but it is only between members of the same faction that all comm tools are available - chat, mail, group, and share guilds. Players also select a class for their character including mages, warriors and priests styles. Most classes (except for special "Hero classes") are limited to particular races.