In the United States, Canada, and Europe, Blizzard distributes World of Warcraft via retail software packages. The software package includes 30 days of gameplay for no additional cost. To continue playing after the initial 30 days, additional play time must be purchased using a credit card or prepaid game card. The minimum gameplay duration that a player can purchase is 30 days using a credit card, or 60 using a prepaid game card. A player also has the option of purchasing three or six months of gameplay at once for a 6–15% discount. In Australia, the United States, and many European countries, video game stores commonly stock the trial version of World of Warcraft in DVD form, which includes the game and 20 levels of gameplay, after which the player would have to upgrade to a retail account by supplying a valid credit card, or purchasing a game card as well as a retail copy of the game.
The great desert fortress of Ahn'Qiraj, long sealed behind the Scarab Wall, was home to the insectoid qiraji, a savage race that had once mounted an assault to devastate the continent of Kalimdor. But something far more sinister lurked behind Ahn'Qiraj's walls: the Old God C'Thun, an ancient entity whose pervasive evil had suffused Azeroth since time immemorial. As C'Thun incited the qiraji to frenzy, both the Alliance and Horde prepared for a massive war effort. A mixed force of Alliance and Horde soldiers, dubbed the Might of Kalimdor, opened the gates of Ahn'Qiraj under the command of the orc Varok Saurfang. The heroes laid siege to the ruins and temples of Ahn'Qiraj and vanquished C'Thun.
Less than two months after beginning operation of World of Warcraft in China on September 19, 2009, NetEase was ordered to immediately stop charging players and to cease accepting registrations. A press estimate indicated that if World of Warcraft were shut down in China, the loss of subscribers would have caused Activision Blizzard's earnings to fall from 65 cents per share to 60 cents per share. In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62 percent of the MMORPG subscription market. The game has grossed $9.23 billion in revenue, making it one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, along with Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Street Fighter II.