November 27, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili
Seven years ago today, Blizzard Entertainment launched World of Warcraft, the company's most successful game to date and one of the most influential online games of all time.
The MMORPG, with 10.3 million current global subscribers, has seen tremendous success since its launch in late 2004, and still serves as the gold standard by which the industry judges the commercial success of an MMORPG.
Of course, the game has gone through quite a bit over the last few years. It has seen three major expansions, broken numerous sales and activity records, and has certainly been the focus of its fair share of controversies. Yet despite how the game or the industry may have changed since 2004, World of Warcraft remains a highly relevant force in the games business.
To celebrate the game's latest anniversary, Gamasutra's Tom Curtis took a look back at the history of World of Warcraft, recalling its most pertinent developments, its significant milestones, and the most memorable moments from throughout its development.
The story starts to take root even further than seven years ago, as it was in 1994 when Blizzard introduced us to the world of Warcraft with the real-time strategy game Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.
The company officially announced World of Warcraft in 2001 at the European Computer Trade Show in London. Shortly after that announcement, DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole, years before the game's launch, was quoted as saying, "I expect World of Warcraft to reach 300,000 to 400,000 users very quickly--three to six months would not be unreasonable. The question will probably be: Can it keep those subscribers?"
The analyst's comment exemplifies just how no one could have expected Blizzard's first MMORPG to become such a worldwide phenomenon. Here are the past seven years of World of Warcraft: