World of Warcraft launches

Blizzard's extensive beta testing pays off, as its fantasy MMORPG goes online relatively smoothly.


Today saw another one of the year's most anticipated games launch. Developer-publisher Blizzard has opened up the gates to World of Warcraft's virtual world to players in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game will also launch in Korea and Europe, but at a later date.

Blizzard's announcement comes after World of Warcraft's nearly eight-month beta test--during which time GameSpot editors wandered its imaginary realm in our Exploring the World of Warcraft feature. Apparently the extended beta paid off, as the game has seen a relatively smooth start along the lines of EverQuest II and City of Heroes. Given that World of Warcraft is Blizzard's first MMORPG, many were expecting a problem-plagued launch, à la Anarchy Online or Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.

However, as is to be expected with an undertaking of World of Warcraft's size, there were a few hiccups. For one, the game appeared to be a victim of its own success, with posts on the game's official forum warning of wait times of up to two hours to access the game. However, there were just as many posts praising the game's success. GameSpot editors were able to access the game and create characters without any problems, though some areas of the in-game world seemed overcrowded.

The T-rated World of Warcraft is available for both the PC and the Macintosh, and it will retail for $49.99, which includes the first month of subscription fees. From then on, the game will have a three-tiered subscription plan: $14.99 for month-to-month payments, $13.99 per month for purchasers of three-month blocks, and $12.99 per month for those who sign up for a six-month tour of duty.

Blizzard also planned on allowing fees to be paid via PayPal or with prepaid cards purchased from game stores. However, as noted on the game's official Web site, the PayPal option is currently not working "due to some unforeseen systems issues." The site also said production of the prepaid cards had hit a snag, and that they would not be in stores until November 29.

To learn more about the World of Warcraft, read GameSpot's final preview of the game.

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