Lich King launch event was UK's biggest

HMV Oxford Street sees record crowds.

The midnight launch event for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King at HMV's Oxford Street branch was the biggest the store had seen, an HMV spokesman told Eurogamer tonight.

The flagship store held the previous UK record for an entertainment launch with the 1500 people who showed up at midnight on 16th January last year to buy previous WOW expansion, The Burning Crusade.

Although there was no official headcount, the HMV representative was convinced that record had been broken by a significant margin - some 25 to 30 per cent.

He estimated that somewhere between 2000 and 2500 people queued up at the shop in central London to buy their copy of the expansion.

The HMV spokesman was also confident that the event would prove to be Europe's biggest when the results were in.

At its height, the queue stretched around the entire block, almost meeting itself at the front of the store. The first person in the queue had taken his place at 6am on Tuesday morning.

The HMV spokesman noted that the level of support provided by Acitvision Blizzard for the event was beyond anything HMV had seen before, including from platform holders such as Nintendo. Senior executives from Blizzard and Activision's European headquarters were in attendance.

As expected, some of the crowd turned up in home-made costumes. Event organisers added to the spectacle with a towering actor dressed as the Lich King himself, Arthas, and an ice sculpture of the World of Warcraft logo.

The touch most appreciated by fans was the bespoke logo over the front entrance - the letters WOW written in the HMV font, with a Murloc creature instead of the usual dog listening to his master's voice emanate from a gramophone.

Blizzard operations chief Paul Sams played warm-up man with extreme ease, eliciting huge roars from the crowd when he asked Horde and Alliance players to identify themselves.

He then settled in for a few hours of solid signing. Before going on stage, Sams wouldn't admit to any nerves - unless it was about how the servers would stand up to all the players rushing online from thousands of midnight launches across the continent.

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