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]
World of Warcraft has inspired two board games: World of Warcraft: The Board Game (including Shadow of War and The Burning Crusade expansions)[157] and World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game,[158][159] produced by Fantasy Flight Games. There is also a trading card game,[160] and a collectible miniatures game[161] on the market, both formerly produced by Upper Deck Entertainment, now produced by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Cryptozoic released an "Archives" set which contains foil reproductions of older cards produced by Upper Deck. In August 2012, Megabloks launched a licensed line of World of Warcraft 'building block' toys based on the game scenes, scenarios and characters.[162] In March 2014, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was released, which is a free-to-play digital card game based on the Warcraft universe, using classes similar to World of Warcraft.[163]

Intent on settling in Durotar, Thrall's Horde expanded its ranks by inviting the undead Forsaken to join orcs, tauren, and trolls. Meanwhile, dwarves, gnomes, and the ancient night elves pledged their loyalties to the Alliance, guided by the human kingdom of Stormwind. After Stormwind's king, Varian Wrynn, mysteriously disappeared, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon served as Regent but his service was affected by the mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, who ruled in disguise as a human noblewoman. As heroes investigated Onyxia's manipulations, the ancient elemental lord Ragnaros resurfaced to endanger both the Horde and Alliance.[42] The heroes of the Horde and Alliance defeated Onyxia and sent Ragnaros back to the Elemental Plane.
In the United States, Canada, and Europe, Blizzard distributes World of Warcraft via retail software packages.[50] 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.[51] 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[52] 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.
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]
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]

Some of the challenges in World of Warcraft require players to group together to complete them. These usually take place in dungeons—also known as "instances"—that a group of characters can enter together. The term "instance" comes from each group or party having a separate copy, or instance, of the dungeon, complete with their own enemies to defeat and their own treasure or rewards.[32] This allows a group to explore areas and complete quests without others interfering. Dungeons are spread over the game world and are designed for characters of varying progression. A typical dungeon will allow up to five characters to enter as part of a group. Some dungeons require more players to group together and form a "raid" of up to forty players to face some of the most difficult challenges.[33] As well as dungeon-based raid challenges, several creatures exist in the normal game environment that are designed for raids to attack.[28][34]
In September 2006, reports emerged of spoof World of Warcraft game advice websites that contained malware. Vulnerable computers would be infected through their web browsers, downloading a program that would then relay back account information. Blizzard's account support teams experienced high demand during this episode, stating that many users had been affected. Claims were also made that telephone support was closed for isolated periods due to the volume of calls and resulting queues.[115] In April 2007, attacks evolved to take advantage of further exploits involving animated cursors, with multiple websites being used.[116][117] Security researcher group Symantec released a report stating that a compromised World of Warcraft account was worth US$10 on the black market, compared to US$6 to US$12 for a compromised computer (correct as of March 2007).[118] In February 2008, phishing emails were distributed requesting that users validate their account information using a fake version of the World of Warcraft account management pages.[119] In June 2008, Blizzard announced the Blizzard Authenticator, available as a hardware security token or mobile application[120] that provides two-factor security. The token generates a one-time password based code that the player supplies when logging on. The password, used in addition to the user's own password, is only valid for a couple of minutes, thus providing extra security against keylogging malware.[121]
Los idiomas son un sistema implementado por Blizzard para evitar que los jugadores de las facciones contrarias se comuniquen entre sí, con vistas a prevenir guerras de descalificaciones o insultos entre facciones por los chats comunes. Cada facción tiene un idioma comprensible por todas las razas de la facción, y que por tanto es el idioma más utilizado en cada sitio. No obstante, todas las razas tienen idiomas propios que les sirven para comunicarse únicamente con los miembros de su propia raza (salvo humanos y orcos, cuyos idiomas son los idiomas comunes de facción). El idioma que emplea el jugador es seleccionable a través de su interfaz. Si un jugador al comunicarse emplea un idioma que su interlocutor no puede comprender, el interlocutor no verá el texto introducido por el hablante sino una frase incomprensible en el idioma que el jugador emplea. En todo caso que el hablante no emplee el idioma común o el orco, se verá entre corchetes el nombre del idioma que utiliza.
El juego fue lanzado el 23 de noviembre de 2004, celebrando el décimo aniversario de la franquicia Warcraft. La primera expansión del juego The Burning Crusade fue lanzada el 16 de enero del 2007.7​ La segunda expansión, Wrath of the Lich King, fue lanzada el 13 de noviembre de 2008.8​ La tercera expansión, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm fue anunciada en el BlizzCon 2009 y fue lanzada el 7 de diciembre de 2010.9​10​ La cuarta expansión, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria fue anunciada en el BlizzCon 2011 y fue lanzada el 25 de septiembre del 2012. La quinta expansión, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor fue anunciada en el BlizzCon 2013 y fue lanzada el 13 de noviembre de 2014. La sexta expansión, World of Warcraft: Legion fue anunciada en el BlizzCon 2015 y fue lanzada el 30 de agosto de 2016. La séptima expansión, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth fue anunciada en el BlizzCon 2017 y recientemente lanzada el 14 de agosto de 2018 siendo la primera expansión en la historia del juego en ser lanzada globalmente de forma simultánea. Con 7.7 millones de suscriptores,11​ World of Warcraft continúa siendo con diferencia el juego en línea por suscripción con el mayor registro de usuarios, manteniendo el récord Guinness para el MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Rol Playing Game) más popular.12​
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