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Warcraft is a franchise of video games, novels and other media originally created by Blizzard Entertainment for the game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.

The series is made up of four core games: Warcraft: Orcs & Humans; Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness; Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos; and World of Warcraft. The first three of these core games are in the real-time strategy genre, where opposing players command virtual armies in battle against each other or a computer-controlled enemy. The latter, and best selling title of the franchise, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Expansion sets were also released for multiple games in the series, each adding more content to each game as an effort to expand the product life span of each. Warcraft II and Warcraft III had one expansion each, namely Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. World of Warcraft has had multiple expansions, namely World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King and the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.[1][2]

All games in the series have been set in and around the world of Azeroth, a high fantasy setting. Initially, the start of the series focused on the human nations which make up the Eastern Kingdoms, and the Orcish Horde which arrived in Azeroth via a dark portal, beginning the great wars. The Orcs arrived from another world, referred to as Draenor or Outland, a world which has been shattered into pieces by demonic magics. Later on in the series the world of Azeroth was expanded, revealing the new continents of Kalimdor and Northrend, allowing the introduction of the Night Elves, Tauren and other major races into the universe. The world of Azeroth also contains the traditional fantasy setting races of elves, dwarves, gnomes and trolls.[3][4]

The series also resulted in the publishing of books relevant to the Warcraft universe setting, covering a wide range of the timelines of the universe.[5] A collectable card game was also published, which offered those who bought booster packs a chance to gain access codes to limited in-game content in World of Warcraft.[6][7] An upcoming film adaptation is also being produced.[8] A number of comics have also been released alongside the books, further covering parts of the universe's storyline. A online-subscription only magazine has also been released, which is not sold at newsagents, released quarterly.[9]

As a video game series

Plot timeline

The first three games in the Warcraft series, including their expansion packs, were all released on the PC. All of these games were of the real-time strategy genre. Each game proceeded to carry on the storyline of the previous games, and each introduced new features and content to improve gameplay. Warcraft III was the first game in the series to feature a Collector's Edition, and all subsequent games to this have also had collectors editions. Warcraft II was the first game in the series to feature play over the internet using, although this was not included until a later release of the game. Warcraft II was also the first in the series to be re-released as a "Battle Chest", a bundle copy of the game containing both the original and expansion. Warcraft III and World of Warcraft have both had "Battle Chests" released for them too subsequent to their release. The "" edition of Warcraft II was also the first to introduce the use of CD keys to the series, requiring each user online to have their own copy of the game in order to be able to connect. However, a CD key is not yet required to play via a Local Area Network, although speculation is that future games in the series will do so, as another product in Blizzard Entertainment's portfolio, StarCraft II, is doing so by removing the option for using LANs completely, requiring the use of[10]

In 1998, an adventure game in the series, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, was announced as being cancelled, having been previously delayed from a 1997 release.

In 2004, Blizzard Entertainment moved the series away from the real-time strategy genre, and released World of Warcraft, an MMORPG. Requiring a subscription fee to be paid to play, it also introduced regular additional content to the series in the form of patches. World of Warcraft quickly gained much popularity worldwide, becoming the world's largest MMORPG. They reached a peak 11.5 million subscribers worldwide,[11] however that number may have dropped after World of Warcraft was shut down in China.[12] World of Warcraft has had two expansions, with another announced in 2010. During the production of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce stated that "If there’s a team that’s passionate about doing another WarCraft RTS, then that’s definitely something we would consider. It’s nothing that we’re working on right now, we have development teams working on Wrath of the Lich King, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and when those teams are all off the projects they’re working on, they’ll be intimately involved in the discussions about what’s next."

Media set in the Warcraft universe


Computer games

  • Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) - real-time strategy game
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995)
    • Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal (1996) - expansion pack to Tides of Darkness
    • Warcraft II: Edition (1999) - allowed online play of Warcraft II on
  • Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans - adventure game, cancelled
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002)
    • Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003) - expansion pack to Reign of Chaos
  • World of Warcraft (November 23, 2004) - MMORPG
    • World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (January 16, 2007) - first expansion pack to World of Warcraft
    • World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (November 13, 2008) - second expansion pack to World of Warcraft
    • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (TBA 2010) - third expansion pack to World of Warcraft, unreleased as of March 2010

Tabletop games

  • Warcraft: The Board Game - strategic board game from Fantasy Flight Games, based heavily on Warcraft III
  • Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game - role-playing game from Sword & Sorcery
  • World of Warcraft: The Board Game - board game based on World of Warcraft, also by Fantasy Flight Games
  • World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game - board game based on World of Warcraft, also by Fantasy Flight Games
  • World of Warcraft Miniatures Game - a miniature war game based on World of Warcraft, by Upper Deck Entertainment.

Collectible card games


  • Warcraft: Day of the Dragon
  • Warcraft: Lord of the Clans
  • Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor
  • Warcraft: The Last Guardian
  • Warcraft: War of the Ancients Trilogy
    • The Well of Eternity
    • The Demon Soul
    • The Sundering
  • World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred
  • World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde
  • World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness
  • World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal
  • World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon
  • World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King
  • World of Warcraft: Stormrage
  • World of Warcraft: The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm

Film adaptation

In May 2006, production company Legendary Pictures acquired film rights to adapt Warcraft for the big screen with the game's publisher, Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard had originally considered hiring a scribe for the film adaptation before teaming up with Legendary Pictures.[8] The companies plan to create a film that will not follow one specific Warcraft game's storyline, but will still take place in the fantasy universe.[14] According to Blizzard's Chief Operating Officer Paul Sams, the film's budget would be over $100 million.[15]

In June 2007, Legendary Pictures chairman Thomas Tull said that the studio was working closely with Blizzard's designers and writers to adapt World of Warcraft. Tull explained the desire to have a good story for the film adaptation, "I think some of the stuff that makes a game translate well... if there's a lore, if there's a road and story and a world that's been created, and characters that are interesting in a way that's more than just point and shoot."[16] World of Warcraft's lead designer Rob Pardo expressed interest in being able to adapt the intellectual property of World of Warcraft to the appropriate medium of the film. He also added that the designers were collaborating with Legendary Pictures on story and script development.[17]

In August 2007, at BlizzCon, it was unveiled that the film will aim for a projected 2009 release. It was also revealed that the movie will take place from an Alliance perspective,with a storyline set one year before the beginning of the World of Warcraft storyline. Also revealed was the $100 million budget. As of this time, no cast are said to be firmly associated with its development. Thomas Tull stated that, "It’s not so much a quest movie. It’s more of a war movie."[18] Blizzard vice president of creative development and co-producer of the movie, Chris Metzen, said at the very same BlizzCon, that they would not make a PG version, stating "We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft."[19]

In August 2008, Blizzard Entertainment co-founder and vice president, Frank Pearce, was asked about the current status of the feature film. He replied briefly:

"I think they're looking to assign a screenwriter and director to it right now... it's still really early."[20]

As of September, 2008, Chris Metzen has been slated to write the film. At Blizzcon that year Metzen and Producers from Legendary Pictures stated the story would revolve around a "Kick Ass Human Character", which would not be Varian Wrynn, the then-unannounced hero of the comic.[21]

On July 22, 2009, it was revealed that Sam Raimi, who is well known for his work on The Evil Dead series and the Spider-Man movies, will be directing the movie. Blizzard Entertainment later confirmed Raimi's attachment to the project.[22]

At one point, director Uwe Boll expressed interest in directing the movie, even going so far as meeting with Paul Sams to pitch ideas, but Blizzard stated in no uncertain terms it wanted nothing to do with Boll, whose movie adaptations of video games routinely landed as among the 100 worst rated and reviewed movies in recent memory. They went on record to say to him, "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you... not ever to you."[23]

In October 2009, production company Legendary Pictures along with Blizzard Entertainment announced that the film's budget would be "Not less than $220 million".[citation needed]

On October 13, 2009, MTV Multiplayer announced that Robert Rodat would be writing the story for the movie. Robert Rodat is best known for his work on Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot.[citation needed]

Early in 2010, Sony confirmed that Raimi would not direct their next Spider-Man release and many expected that "Warcraft" would be the first project that Sam Raimi would take next. Robert Rodat's script for the big-screen adaptation may not be ready for Raimi yet, and even if it were, he may have other priorities in mind. "It’s in development," the film's executive producer Robert Tapert said. "We're in the outline/story/script phase."[24] Raimi has gone on to say that Arthas will not be featured in "his Warcraft," and he will focus on an entirely new character, which caused some controversy between the fans. In addition, Raimi stated that the Lich King will be absent from his film as well.


A number of comic adaptations have been made including:


In 2009, Blizzard announced that it would be releasing a magazine with Future US Ltd. This magazine would only be purchasable by online subscription, and not for sale in newsagents or stores, thus making them collectors items. The magazine is released quarterly, and each contains 148 pages. No advertisements are included in the magazine.[9]



Most of the Warcraft series takes place on Azeroth. Other planets in the Warcraft universe include, Draenor (also known as Outland), Argus, K'aresh, and Xoroth. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, the first game in the series, takes place in the human kingdom of Azeroth. The name Azeroth is also applied to the entire planet.[4]


Azeroth has three known continents, named the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor and Northrend, separated by the Great Sea. Two major islands also reside in the Great Sea: Kezan, land of the Goblins, and Zandalar, birthplace of the Troll civilization. In the center of the Great Sea is an enormous, everlasting vortex called the "Maelstrom" beneath which lies the aquatic city of Nazjatar, home of the amphibious Naga.

The Eastern Kingdoms are the primary setting of the first two games (and their expansions) and the first half of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The kingdom of Stormwind lies at the south of the Eastern Kingdoms, south of the dwarven kingdom of Khaz Modan and north of the jungle known as Stranglethorn Vale. The capital city of Stormwind, Stormwind City, is nestled into the northwest of Elwynn Forest, a large forest at the center of the kingdom. The Dwarvern capital in Khaz Modan, called Ironforge, is located in Dun Morogh.

The former human kingdom of Lordaeron, which successfully headed the Human Alliance in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness but later fell to the Scourge in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, is located north from the southern kingdoms. Underneath the ruined city of Lordaeron now lies the Undercity, capital of the Forsaken, a rebel band of the undead Scourge. The area is now known as the Eastern and Western Plaguelands. Northeast of Lordaeron is the elven nation of Quel'Thalas and its capital city, Silvermoon, both of which were conquered by the Scourge in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

The continent of Kalimdor was introduced in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Whereas the Eastern Kingdoms can be described as the equivalent of medieval Europe, with traditional kingdoms with advanced cities, Kalimdor can be compared to the Americas and at the time of their discovery by the Europeans, full of wild and unexplored lands. The geology of Kalimdor is similar to North America and Africa, with massive, ancient forests and mountains covering the North and vast deserts and savannahs in the South. The Night Elven kingdom is located in the northwest region of Kalimdor, also including the island Teldrassil off the northwest coast, which contains the city of Darnassus.

To the south, past the Ashenvale Forest, is a stretch of land known as The Barrens, situated between the grasslands of Mulgore to the west, and Durotar, the land settled by the Orcs, to the east. Mulgore is home to the Tauren capital of Thunderbluff, a large city of tepees and lodges built on top of a conglomerate of high plateaus which are only accessible by air travel and a great series of lifts built down to the ground. In the north of Durotar is the fortress-city of Orgrimmar, capital of the Orcs.

The third continent, Northrend, is the northern polar cap of Azeroth and is the primary stronghold of the malevolent Undead Scourge. Northrend is featured in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion set Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, and is the main location featured in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion pack to World of Warcraft.[4]


Draenor, which featured in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, is the original homeland of the Orcs and Ogres.

Draenor was torn apart when the Orcish clans leader, Ner'Zhul opened many gateways to other worlds when trying to escape the invading Alliance Armies from Azeroth, causing it to crumble and phase into the mysterious parallel dimension called the Twisting Nether, Home of the Demons. The remnants of the world are now known as Outland, and feature in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and more prominently in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.[4]

Major races and factions


  1. ^ "Blizzard Entertainment: Games". Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Blizzard Entertainment: Legacy Games". Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  3. ^ "History of Warcraft". Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The Warcraft Encyclopedia (Official Blizzard release)". Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  5. ^ "Warcraft Novels". Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  6. ^ "Upperdeck World of Warcraft TCG". The Upper Deck Company. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  7. ^ "WoW TCG- Loot Cards". The Upper Deck Company. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  8. ^ a b Pamela McClintock; Ben Fritz (2006-05-08). "Brave new 'World'". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  9. ^ a b "World of Warcraft the Magazine". Blizzard Entertainment, Future US Ltd. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  10. ^ Haynes, Jeff. "No LAN for Starcraft II". IGN. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  11. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (24th December 2008). "World of Warcraft census tops 11.5 million". GameSpot.;title;1. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  12. ^ Thorsen, Tor (November 3rd 2009). "World of Warcraft shut down in China.". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  13. ^ "October 25 Release Date - World of Warcraft Trading Card Game Blog". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  14. ^ Borys Kit (2006-05-09). "Legendary enters world of 'Warcraft'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  15. ^ Tal Blevins (2006-08-24). "GC 2006: Warcraft Movie Update". IGN. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  16. ^ Brandon Sheffield; Brandon Boyer (2007-06-29). "H&G: Tull Talks World of Warcraft Film". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  17. ^ Brandon Sheffield; Jolene Spry (2007-06-28). "H&G: Blizzard's Pardo Talks WoW Film". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  18. ^ Paul Hayes (2007-08-05). "Warcraft Movie Chronicles: 'WoW' Film at BlizzCon 2007". Movie Chronicles. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  19. ^ Michael McWhertor (2007-08-04). "Warcraft Movie Details Revealed At BlizzCon". Kotaku. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  20. ^ "Warcraft Movie Latest News". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  21. ^ "BlizzCon 2007 movie panel Q&A". 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  22. ^ "Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures sign Sam Raimi to direct upcoming Warcraft movie". Blizzard Entertainment. 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  23. ^ "'World of Warcraft' is safe from Uwe Boll". 
  24. ^ Warmoth, Brian. "'WarCraft' Movie Script Still In Development". MTV Networksdate=19 January 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  25. ^ "DC Comics World of Warcraft page". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  26. ^ "Walter Simonson: Into The World Of Warcraft". Newsarama. November 25, 2007.

External links


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