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World of Warcraft Euro costs, packages revealed

How much you'll pay, what you'll get, when you'll get it, and the return of "Oh lord, why not just release it on a DVD?"

Ah. Many of our Yankee brethren are busy playing fully finished copies of World of Warcraft, which shipped to stores over there earlier this week. And some of you are a bit peeved. Either that or a disproportionate percentage of dissenters just happen to enjoy using our contact form. "Blizzard hates Europe!" they tell us (which is strange, since those Blizzard chaps seemed so nice when we last saw them), "and they never tell us anything."

Ah, well, they do now. Admittedly it took a while - and the frustration is understandable - but details of the Californian company's plans for WOW's European launch have finally been thrust into the public domain by publisher Vivendi. It's still set for a full release "in early 2005", there will be standard and collector's editions, the subscription costs have been laid bare, and as promised there will be a means for European gamers to play on American servers - just not until a little after the launch.

Pre-orders for World of Warcraft kick off this Friday, and Vivendi tells us that anybody who buys into the pre-release hype will be able to take part in a final beta test of the European version, currently scheduled for December. The release version will follow early next year and will cost £29.99 including a free one-month subscription, and it will be made available in flavours, with box art representing the Horde and Alliance factions. Slightly annoyingly, the game will be supplied on four CD-ROMs, rather than a single DVD.

Which seems doubly silly when you consider that the "Collector's Edition" version will supply the game on both CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. The rest of the £44.99 asking price is justified by the one-month sub, a behind-the-scenes DVD, an "exclusive in-game pet", a cloth map of the game world, a soundtrack CD, an Art of the World of Warcraft book, and a game manual signed by the dev team. Much as our contact form-loving haters might despise them, you can't knock Blizzard's penchant for collectible packages. (Excuse us while we go hug our Warcraft battlechests.)

Subsequent subscription costs can be paid, it seems, month-by-month, or in three and six-month blocks; paying monthly will cost you £8.99, although obviously you can escape with less notice, while three-monthly will boil down to £8.39 for each month and six-monthly just £7.69. Which certainly straightens things out a bit, even if a number of you will now email us complaining that this just confirms the worst. Never mind folks; you can always play the game with Americo-gamers until then, right?

We'll bring you more on World of Warcraft just as soon as we can. Although admittedly that assumes there's an internal coup somewhere along the line and somebody decides to give us the same level of access to the beta as the average leprous Tibetan mountain goat. For the moment though we're resigned to looking at the pictures, while our gruff, cliff-top-dwelling quadruped comrades are busy getting their hooves round the intricacies of the Trade Skills system. Baaaaah.