World of Warcraft to open its gates November 23

After a lengthy beta, Blizzard's wildly anticipated MMORPG finally gets a launch date.

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November is already packed with high-profile game releases--Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Need for Speed Underground 2, Call of Duty: Finest Hour, Medal of Honor Pacific Assault, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, just to name a few.

Now, another heavyweight is stepping into this month's retail ring. Today, Blizzard Entertainment announced that World of Warcraft, its hotly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game, will ship on November 23 in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The game will be released in Korea and Europe shortly thereafter, though no dates were specified.

Blizzard's announcement comes after the game's nearly eight-month beta test. During that time, GameSpot editors literally wandered its imaginary realm for days, as outlined in our Exploring the World of Warcraft feature.

For those PC gamers unfamiliar with World of Warcraft, it is a sprawling MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe. It will allow thousands of players to partake in thousands of quests, either alone or with other players. In fact, player interaction will be a key part of the game, allowing gamers' characters--who can be created from a variety of races and classes--to either band together in parties or fight one another in blood feuds. Within its overarching, ongoing storyline, World of Warcraft will sport thousands of weapons, spells, and abilities for players to choose from. GameSpot's encyclopedic previous coverage of the game will give you some idea of the game's scope.

"World of Warcraft has been our largest undertaking to date," said Blizzard Entertainment president and cofounder Mike Morhaime. "When we set out to create a massively multiplayer online game, our goal was to expand the scope of the Warcraft universe by offering an incredibly dynamic game experience."

When it is released on November 23, the T-rated World of Warcraft will be available for both the PC and 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. Fees can be paid with a credit card, by PayPal, or with prepaid game cards purchased from game stores.

In addition to the regular version of World of Warcraft, a special collector's edition will be available. Retailing for $79.99, the collector's edition will include both CD-ROM and DVD versions of the game, a free one-month subscription, a "making of" DVD, an exclusive pet for your in-game character, a soundtrack CD, a cloth map of the gameworld, a coffee-table book on the art of World of Warcraft, and a special game manual personally signed by the game's development team at Blizzard.

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