The History of Warcraft

The editors at IGN have put together an extensive history of the Warcraft franchise, from Dune II's influence on the original Orcs & Humans to the ridiculous success of World of Warcraft.
Warcraft could broadly be called a clone, but it brought with it a major innovation that alone was almost enough to redefine (or just define) the budding genre. Just as Doom had completely changed the first-person shooter landscape with its online multiplayer, Warcraft allowed players to square off against each other by modem or local network. While the computer AI could be easily fooled or overwhelmed, the game's strategy took on a whole new dimension against a human opponent. What was once a game of patterns became a battle of wits. After Warcraft, every major RTS on the market would need a multiplayer component to compete.

Blizzard's breakthrough made its debut with a demo, released in the summer of 1994. Although the full game was months away, the generous sneak peek gave gamers a tantalizing taste of what was to come. In a time when shareware was still thriving and floppy disks were copied and circulated around playgrounds and campuses, the demo did much to generate advance buzz for the unique title.


Some of the hardcore MMO fans balked at an RPG that would be so kind to newbies, but World of Warcraft was an overnight success. EverQuest II, once hyped as the next big thing, was practically tossed aside as gamers flocked to WoW by the millions. In 2005, its first full year on the market, it outsold every other PC game, and proved Blizzard was a force to be reckoned with. When it managed to do the same in 2006, it was clear that WoW wasn't going away anytime soon.

Of course, no persistent world can enchant the masses forever without considerable upkeep. Blizzard listened intently to fan feedback and refined their game many times over, but before long, they needed to give fans something new. The first expansion, The Burning Crusade, arrived at the beginning of 2007, bringing with it two new races, and new territories. On its first day of release, it sold 2.4 million copies, and another million by the end of the month. Toward the end of the following year, Blizzard delivered Wrath of the Lich King, opening up a whole new continent. The second expansion managed to sell even faster than the first.
Would you believe that I gleaned more entertainment value from Orcs & Humans than both Tides of Darkness and Reign of Chaos put together? I still keep a couple of null modem cables around, just in case.