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Could World of Warcraft on console finally be happening?

"I will say nothing's impossible."

A screenshot of the human paladin Anduin in World of Warcraft, overlayed by a big, garish Xbox logo.
Image credit: Eurogamer / Blizzard

In the autumn of last year, Holly Longdale, the executive producer and vice president of World of Warcraft, made headlines by saying the team talks about putting WoW on console "all the time". It's a question the company has been asked repeatedly over the game's near 20-year lifetime, and it's an answer we've heard before, but it gained new momentum in light of Microsoft's recently completed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. When better to bring the game to Xbox than now?

I had a chance to put the question to Holly Longdale again at a World of Warcraft: The War Within expansion event in London this week. Should people finally get their hopes up?

"I mean..." Longdale began, cagily.

What's coming to World of Warcraft in the 10th expansion, The War Within.Watch on YouTube

Remember, console online infrastructure has come a long way since World of Warcraft launched in 2004/5. Today, many MMOs exist happily on consoles as well as on desktop computers - Final Fantasy 14 and Black Desert Online to name a couple. And, of course, there are many more massively multiplayer games on console now besides traditional MMOs, led by the likes of Fortnite. Online worlds on consoles are not, in other words, uncommon any more.

After a pause, Longdale answers. "I will say nothing's impossible," she told me, smiling. "I can't say anything more than that." Then, she laughed. She started to say something after this but then stopped herself before I could make out what she was saying. "No, that's all I'll say," she said, and then laughed again.

World of Warcraft already has controller support, of course. It's been available for a few years, introduced in expansion Shadowlands - not primarily as a play for the console market but more by way of improving accessibility options and broadening the ways people could interact with the game. It means, though, that hurdle has been at least partially cleared.

The remaining hurdle, I expect, is operational. It's more complicated updating a game on multiple platforms run by different service providers than it is on PC, where you can update on your own schedule. But now Blizzard is a part of Microsoft and therefore Xbox, couldn't they make special dispensation? Plus, Blizzard has been operating online games such as Overwatch and Diablo 4 on console now for a while - could it not do the same with WoW?

The War Within expansion comes out in the late-summer/early-autumn period of this year, and it'll be the 10th expansion added to the game. It'll also be fairly unique in beginning a brand new three-expansion storyline known as the Worldsoul Saga, which has grand ambitions, ending with the enigmatic and world-shaping titans of Azeroth. Ooh. I had a chance to nose around with the expansion at the recent London events, and I'll have my impressions of it, and the plan surrounding it all, soon.

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