Azeroth: Population 5 million and counting

Recent launch in new regions pushes number of World of Warcraft users to another milestone mark.

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Blizzard's World of Warcraft has been a pleasant surprise to the PC market, proving that the platform isn't dead and establishing itself as the benchmark for massively multiplayer online role-playing games. In late August, VU Games reiterated the game's success with the announcement that WOW had reached 4 million customers.

The game was first launched in North America, Australia, and New Zealand in late November of 2004, and it has slowly spread across the globe, tallying impressive numbers in Europe and Asia. The Irvine, California-based developer announced today that the game has netted 5 million customers worldwide.

Blizzard defines a "customer" as one who has "paid a subscription fee or purchased a prepaid card to play World of Warcraft," or someone who "has purchased the installation box bundled with one free month [of] access." The company also counted "Internet Game Room players [who have] accessed the game over the last seven days" as paying customers.

"World of Warcraft's growth continues to exceed all our expectations," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard. "We want to reiterate our thanks to the millions of players worldwide and to all the retailers who have enthusiastically supported the game over the past year."

The latest regional launch in early November introduced Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong to the game that allows players to roam a persistent virtual world populated with orcs, magic, and other fantasy subjects. Though this latest launch marks one of the final territories to get its WOW on, Blizzard isn't planning on relaxing.

"Our commitment to continue growing World of Warcraft is stronger than ever, with development on future content patches and on our 2006 expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, well underway," added Morhaime. The Burning Crusade expansion is expected to be released sometime in 2006.

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