“World of Warcraft Classic,” a faithful recreation of the popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game’s earliest days, officially launches on Aug. 27, developer Blizzard Entertainment announced on Tuesday.
“WoW Classic” will be available to all game subscribers at no additional cost and promises a return to “a time when Onyxia spread terror from her lair in Duskwallow Marsh, Leeroy Jenkins became a sensation after some ill-advised heroics in Upper Blackrock Spire, and only the bravest or most foolhardy quested alone in Stranglethorn Vale.” Blizzard is reportedly rebuilding the game in its most polished and complete state — which was right around the time the Drums of War update hit in August 2006.
“World of Warcraft” is one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time. At the height of its popularity, it reportedly had close to 10 million players worldwide. By 2014, it had over one hundred million registered accounts. It reportedly surpassed $9.23 billion in revenue by 2017, making it one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time.
Building and launching the original “World of Warcraft” in 2004 was “immensely challenging,” Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack said in a press release. Even nature posed a problem during its development when a tornado literally tore the roof off one of the game’s data centers during the early days of testing. But, Brack said the team was fueled by the excitement of seeing the world of Azeroth from the ground level.
“Azeroth has always been a wondrous and deadly place, and it was especially so at the time of ‘WoW’s’ launch, when everyone was discovering its vistas and exploring its dungeons for the first time — all while helping and supporting the company as everyone here worked through the many technical struggles of hosting a game of this size,” he said.
“That early experience was incredibly important to Blizzard. It taught us many things about ourselves as a developer and publisher, and about the global community of players that we feel honored to be a part of. The ‘World of Warcraft Classic’ experience is very different from the Azeroth we know today, but we love it for what it is and what it stands for. We can’t wait to get reacquainted with this dangerous, demanding, and rewarding world with all of our friends, new and old.”
People with an active “World of Warcraft” subscription can participate in a closed beta test starting on Wednesday, May 15. More players will get the chance to participate in a series of stress tests this summer.