Once upon a time MMOs were a fantasy reserved for hairy people with Elven nicknames.
Today, Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft is played around the world by more than eight million people. Shift-one. It's also reached a significant subscriber milestone of more than 2 million players in North America, 1.5 million in Europe, and 3.5 million in China.
"We're ecstatic that the World of Warcraft community has continued to grow steadily since we launched the game," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, speaking from his golden yacht in a river of silk. "This milestone wouldn't have been possible for us to achieve without the incredible support of our players.
Tuesday 16th January sees the release of The Burning Crusade across North America and Europe, with previously announced stores offering special midnight launch bonanzas.
This first expansion pack aims to increase the size and content of the game by one third, as well as increasing the level cap to 70. It will also introduce two new races, flying mounts, and jewel crafting.
Will it help push the figure to ten million?
The only other online game to have come remotely close to the success of this was Lineage in January 2003, boasting around 3.25 million players. Lineage II peaked at just over two million in 2005, whilst household names EverQuest and Final Fantasy XI both hovered around the 500,000 mark.
If you assume that the subscriber milestone means roughly seven million people are paying GBP 8.99 a month to play the game, that's an income of GBP 62,930,000 ... a month! If I was Blizzard, I would fill a swimming pool with the money and buy a chimpanzee to enjoy it with.
Head over to freshly launched Burning Crusade flash site for more information.