In South Korea, there is no software package or CD key requirement to activate the account. However, to play the game, players must purchase time credits online. There are two kinds of time credits available: one where the player is billed based on the actual number of minutes that will be available, and one where the player can play the game for a number of days. In the former, time can be purchased in multiples of 5 hours or 30 hours, and in the latter, time can be purchased in multiples of 7 days, 1 month, or 3 months. As software packages are not required, expansion pack contents are available to all players on launch day.
The World of Warcraft launcher (referred to in press releases and the menu bar as the "Blizzard Launcher") is a program designed to act as a starting point for World of Warcraft players. It provides a way to launch World of Warcraft and starts the Blizzard updater. It was first included with the version 1.8.3 patch. The 2.1.0 patch allowed for an option to bypass the use of the launcher. Features of the launcher include news and updates for World of Warcraft players, access to World of Warcraft's support website, access to the test version of World of Warcraft when it is available to test upcoming patches, updates to Warden, and updates to the updater itself. The 3.0.8 patch redesigned the launcher and added the ability to change the game settings from the launcher itself. The launcher update from patch 4.0.1 also allows people to play the game while non-crucial pieces of the game are downloaded. This requires a high-speed broadband internet connection.
Seven expansions have been released: The Burning Crusade, released in January 2007; Wrath of the Lich King, released in November 2008; Cataclysm, released in December 2010; Mists of Pandaria, released in September 2012; Warlords of Draenor, released in November 2014; Legion, released in August 2016; and Battle for Azeroth, released in August 2018. Players are not required to purchase expansions in order to continue playing; however, new content and features such as higher level caps and new areas may not be available until they do so.
As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character. 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. 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.
Como en otros, los jugadores controlan un avatar dentro de un mundo en una vista de tercera persona (con la opción de jugar en primera persona) explorando el entorno, combatiendo contra varios monstruos y jugadores, completando misiones e interactuando con personajes no jugables (PNJ) u otros jugadores. El completar misiones ayudará a los jugadores a poder subir de nivel y de esta forma, podrán conseguir equipamiento que les ayudará más adelante a combatir a las distintas criaturas que vayan apareciendo en su camino.