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Blizzard on 15 years of Warcraft, 5 of WOW

"You just don't know how it's going to do."

Blizzard has launched a special site celebrating the fifth anniversary of World of Warcraft - which launched on 23rd Novmeber 2004 - as well as 15 years of the Warcraft series.

The highlight so far is a lengthy video in which everyone who's anyone at the developer reminisces about personal highlights in the series' history.

Chief executive Mike Morhaime recalled the midnight launch of WOW at a local electronics store, saying he wasn't sure the game would be a success until that point.

"Here we were, you know, launching this massively multiplayer game," he said. "It was our first subscription game and the beta was pretty successful, but you really have no idea when you launch a game how many people are going to show up and want to buy it and play it. You just don't know how it's going to do...

"So we drove out to the local Fry's Electronics and driving up I still remember the feeling... I got there and there's traffic to get to Fry's, to get off the freeway, it's completely backed up. And there's crowds and crowds of people walking towards Fry's and there was no parking within blocks."

Several others, including co-founder and production boss Frank Pearce, remember downing WOW raid boss Rangnaros for the first time in the in-house guild, while former lead designer Jeff Kaplan recalls using GM mode to watch the celebrations when leading player guilds achieved the first kills of the dragons Onyxia and Nefarion.

Story guru Chris Metzen and online technology boss Robert Bridenbecker tell the story of how the death of Bridenbecker's brother from cancer inspired a quest line about grief in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, in which the player seeks intervention from Azeroth's most powerful entities for a dying crusader.

"It was wild because [Metzen] was able to take my brother's struggle for about four or five years and represent it in this fantasy universe," Bridenbecker said of the "Bridenbad" storyline. "I actually had the crew here put together the DVD montage of that storyline and I gave that to my parents... and I ended up taking a copy of it as well... and buried that along with some of his personal belongings up in the Arctic Circle."

"Maybe it even helped a little bit in their grief... this goofy, videogame thing," said Metzen. "It was just such a great moment for me fictionally and, more importantly, personally... that sometimes this clumsy craft of making videogames and things can sing beyond the game itself."

For Eurogamer's own look back on World of Warcraft, check out our recent Making of WOW.

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Oli Welsh avatar

Oli Welsh

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Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.

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