Thousands of people of all ages queuing in the freezing cold for hours on end can only mean one thing: It's time for another World of Warcraft expansion.
Last night saw the release of World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King, and there were 16,000 midnight launches of one sort or another across Europe and the world--including a disco-dancing spectacular in San Francisco--and London was no exception, though it was a decidedly more traditional affair. HMV's flagship Oxford street store once again played host to the UK's main launch event, with fans turning out in the thousands.
Numbers seemed likely to dwarf those who turned out for 2007's Burning Crusade launch at the same store; though official figures haven't yet been released, the queue stretching right the way around the store was longer before the store opened than it had been for last year's event and showed no signs of dissipating even after doors opened, as more fans arrived shortly after midnight.The event was hosted by Paul Sams, Blizzard's chief operating officer, who whipped the crowd into something of a frenzy shortly before midnight with traditional shout-outs to Horde and Alliance players in the baying mob. As a true-blood troll, this reporter was disappointed that the Alliance cheer was louder, but so it goes.
Sams wasn't the only high-profile Blizzard presence there; Lee Sparks, an associate producer on World of Warcraft, was also in-store to sign copies of the game alongside Sams once the tills opened.
Some of the thousands of people queuing said that they had been there for up to 36 hours. One of the two people at the front of the queue, Scott Hamshere from Bromley, was so overcome at the excitement, he actually passed out shortly after walking through the doors.
Check below for our full gallery of photos from the event, and make sure to check out Start/Select on Monday for our full video feature on the launch.