GameStop, Blizzard Burning midnight oil

[UPDATE] Retailer will hold witching-hour launch parties for new World of Warcraft expansion at locations nationwide next week; developer-publisher hosting four California bashes.

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As South Park hilariously illustrated last year, hardcore World of Warcraft addicts rarely leave the house. However, if there's one thing that will pry WOW junkies' wide, mashed-potato-textured posteriors away from their computers, it's the release of The Burning Crusade, the first expansion for the wildly popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Warning: Not all Burning Crusade cosplayers look like this one.
Warning: Not all Burning Crusade cosplayers look like this one.

Although collectors' editions are already fetching a pretty penny on eBay, The Burning Crusade won't arrive in stores until January 16--that is, next Tuesday. To help itself further profit from the frenzy, GameStop will be holding special WOW-themed events the night of Monday, January 15. The game will go on sale at midnight at locations across the contiguous 48 states as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, no doubt sparking an epidemic of fraudulent sick days nationwide. A list of participating locations can be found on the official GameStop site.

However, before cash registers start ringing, some GameStop locations will fete the WOWers with "optional events such as costume contests, card game tournaments, [and] screenshot character judging." No specific information about which locales would throw events was available as of press time.

[UPDATE] But while GameStop is keeping mum, Blizzard is inviting everyone to its Burning Crusade launch parties. In a press release sent out late Tuesday evening, the WOW publisher and Vivendi Games subsidiary revealed four official Blizzard Burning Crusade launch events across California. Members of the expansion's development team will sign copies of the game at Fry's Electronics locations in Anaheim, Fountain Valley, and Sunnyvale, as well as the Universal Citywalk GameStop/EB Games in Universal City.

Those itching to buy a signed copy of Burning Crusade can begin lining up at each location at 6 a.m. on January 15th; each will receive a wristband guaranteeing them a signed copy. More details on the event can be found on the official World of Warcraft Web site.

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