World of Warcraft Battleplan - Vol. 1 - 8/2005

It has been over six months since World of Warcraft launched in North America, and we have seen much growth during that time. Just prior to launching in China last week, World of Warcraft had achieved a subscriber base of more than 2 million players worldwide. Thousands of new players around the world are joining the adventures in Azeroth each day, and the early signs from China are showing that World of Warcraft is proving to be very popular with players there as well.

With this rapid growth, we expanded our operations from 48 realms at launch in the U.S. to over 450 worldwide. The introduction of hundreds of new realms caused some growing pains, and we experienced some stability issues with our realms in the months after launch. During these few months, we were able to significantly improve our code and update our hardware, which increased our performance dramatically. Our realms are now stable, and we are concentrating on providing consistent content patches to our players.

On the customer-service end, we have expanded our 24/7 in-game customer service staff (GMs) in all regions since launch. World of Warcraft now employs more than 550 GMs worldwide. Along with assisting players with in-game problems, these GMs also actively seek out and ban the accounts of people caught cheating, botting, or doing anything else that would negatively impact our customers. We have billing and technical support call centers on all the major continents, who employ phone, Web, and e-mail support for customers. Our community websites are moderated by regional teams of community managers who provide answers to customer questions and give feedback to the development teams so we can better focus our efforts. All of these people are there to improve the quality of the game experience for everyone.

Aside from improving our server stability and customer service, we have also been hard at work delivering great new content updates for the game. Since release, we have had four major updates and nine minor updates. Thanks to our major updates, customers have had the opportunity to experience:

  • The introduction of the PvP Honor ranking system and many exciting Honor rewards.
  • Our newly released PvP Battlegrounds. Warsong Gulch, a frenetic 10-vs.-10 capture the flag-style Battleground, and Alterac Valley, a 40-vs.-40 epic-scale battle for dominance.
  • Two new full dungeons (Maraudon and Dire Maul)
  • New world raid encounters (Azurgos and Lord Kazzak)
  • World events such as Feast of Winter Veil, the Elemental Invasions on Kalimdor, Children's Week, the Gurabashi Arena Event, and Noblegarden.
  • Many improvements to the games user interface, such as additional action bars, quest tracking, and buff timers.
  • Over 200 new quests for all levels.
  • Over 600 new items, including new professions recipes, epic mounts, and raid sets.
  • Over 200 new monsters.
  • 12 new flight paths.
  • Numerous new class abilities and class-balance adjustments.
  • Improvements to many of the dungeons already in the game, such as Scholomance, Stratholme, and Blackrock Spire.

We are committed to delivering the highest quality online experience for our players. Some of our upcoming plans have already been mentioned on our community site. For example, in our next major update, we will be releasing Blackwing Lair, a 40-person raid dungeon, where you will be able to battle against the epic dragon Nefarian and his minions. We are also working on a 20-person dungeon called ZulGurub, and the mysterious lands of AhnQiraj in Silithus. Outside of dungeons, we want to continue adding new world events, such as a carnival that will take place in Mulgore and Elwynn forest.

Of course, on top of all this, each content update will also bring new quests, items, professions recipes, and continued class improvements. Some have asked about an expansion and what it might hold. I wanted to let players know that it is in the works, and well release details as soon as we can.

These are but some of the things you can expect over the coming months. There is still so much to speak of, but I hope I have at least given you all a peek at how World of Warcraft has progressed since launch. I also hope I have given you some insight into the future and our dedication to growing World of Warcraft for years to come. Thanks again for your continued support, and well see you in Azeroth!

Shane Dabiri
Lead Producer
World of Warcraft Development Team

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