World of Warcraft was first announced by Blizzard at the ECTS trade show in September 2001.[43] Released in 2004, development of the game took roughly 4–5 years, including extensive testing. The 3D graphics in World of Warcraft use elements of the proprietary graphics engine originally used in Warcraft III.[43] The game was designed to be an open environment where players are allowed to do what they please.[44] Quests are optional and were designed to help guide players, allow character development, and to spread characters across different zones to try to avoid what developers called player collision.[45] The game interface allows players to customize appearance and controls, and to install add-ons and other modifications.[46]
In late 2007, a series of television commercials for the game began airing featuring pop culture celebrities such as Mr. T, William Shatner, and Verne Troyer discussing the virtues of the character classes they play in the game.[153] A Spanish commercial featuring Guillermo Toledo, and a French commercial featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, were also televised.[154] Two more were shown in November 2008, featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Steve Van Zandt.[155] Another commercial in the series, which began airing in November 2011, featured Chuck Norris and played on the Internet phenomenon of "Chuck Norris facts".[156]

The Corrupted Blood plague incident was one of the first events to affect entire servers. Patch 1.7 saw the opening of Zul'Gurub, the game's first 20-player raid dungeon where players faced off against a tribe of trolls. Upon engaging the final boss, players were stricken by a debuff called "Corrupted Blood" which would periodically sap their life. The disease was passed on to other players simply by being near infected players. Originally this malady was confined within the Zul'Gurub instance, but it made its way into the outside world by way of hunter pets or warlock minions that contracted the disease.

As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character.[15] Characters can choose two primary professions that can focus on producing items, such as tailoring, blacksmithing or jewelcrafting or on gathering from resource nodes, such as skinning or mining. Characters can learn all four secondary skills: archeology, cooking, fishing and first aid.[16][17] Characters may form and join guilds, allowing characters within the guild access to the guild's chat channel, the guild name and optionally allowing other features, including a guild tabard, guild bank, guild repairs, and dues.[18]
World of Warcraft es una marca comercial de Blizzard basada en el universo de Warcraft, que, a diferencia de éste, deja a un lado la estrategia de campañas bélicas y explora las posibilidades del rol y la configuración personalizada de personajes ficticios. Este juego es online y multijugadores, por lo que el usuario explora este mundo, pero en otro formato de juego junto a los demás jugadores.
Patch 1.9.3 added native support for Intel-powered Macs, making World of Warcraft a universal application. As a result of this, the minimum supported Mac OS X version has been changed to 10.3.9; World of Warcraft version 1.9.3 and later will not launch on older versions of Mac OS X.[61] PowerPC architecture Macs are no longer supported since version 4.0.1.[62]
In May 2007, Blizzard filed a complaint against in Game Dollar LLC (trading as peons4hire) in U.S. federal court. In February 2008, the parties filed a consent decree in which in Game Dollar agreed to refrain from using any World of Warcraft chat or communication to advertise any business or sell any services relating to World of Warcraft.[140] In June 2007, World of Warcraft player Antonio Hernandez filed a class action lawsuit against IGE for interfering with the intended use of the game.[141]
The Warden's existence was acknowledged in March 2008, during the opening legal proceedings against MDY Industries.[125] The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Arizona, and also listed Michael Donnelly as a defendant. Donnelly was included in the suit as the creator of MMO Glider, software that can automatically play many tasks in the game. Blizzard claimed the software is an infringement of its copyright and software license agreement, stating that "Glider use severely harms the WoW gaming experience for other players by altering the balance of play, disrupting the social and immersive aspects of the game, and undermining the in-game economy." Donnelly claims to have sold 100,000 copies of the $25 software.[126]
En World of Warcraft un jugador tiene acceso a doce tipos de clases (según la expansión Legion) restringida según la raza que se seleccione.17​ Además de la diferencia existente entre cada clase, estas pueden elegir una rama de talentos entre un total de tres (o cuatro si se selecciona druida como clase), aumentando la diferencia entre estas.18​19​
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