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The History of World of Warcraft 1999-2018

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Going over the history of World of Warcraft from its beginnings in 1999, all the way to the Battle For Azeroth expansion in 2018.

Game Timeline wowpedia article: Google “WoW gamepedia timeline” (Youtube breaks the link to this for some reason)
Computer Gaming World Magazine #208:
Subscriber chart:

Videos used in this video:

World of Warcraft Gameplay Trailer 2005:
Everquest trailer from August 1998:
EverQuest Original 1999 Launch Video:
PC Longplay [481] Warcraft: Orcs & Humans by World of Longplays:
Warcarft 2 gameplay by Cire2047:
Diablo 2 gameplay by FirstPlays HD:
World of Warcraft ECTS 2001 Cinematic Trailer:
First WoW gameplay ECTS 2001:
Indalamar Nurfed Warrior WoW Beta 2004 by DerTroll:
Hyppe Stress test Wow beta US 2004-09-07 by Svante G:
World of Warcraft Closed Beta 2004 by Potato League All Star:
WoW gameplay trailer 2004:
Throwback to Vanilla: Crowded Ironforge by Wowmusicable Warcraft Music:
World of Warcraft – Arathi Basin Trailer by GamerSpawn:
Leeroy Jenkins by J Jonah Jameson:
Onyxia Wipe Animation by Alachas1985:
Burning crusade announcement trailer:
Old WoW commercials:
Age of conan combat tutorial:
Age of Conan fatality montage by morgenmuffl:
Age of Conan cinematic:
Warhammer Online cinematic:
Warhammer gameplay by Abomination421:

Some music from ocremix.org:
‘WetGrass Inspired’ by AmIEviL:
Seasons of War(Vanilla Cinematic Music):
Cataclysm Defenders of Azeroth:
Elwynn Forest Music:
Shaping of the World:
‘The Darkness and the Light’ by McVaffe:
WoW Login Music:
PoE Lioneye’s Watch:
‘Gift from Moscow’ by McVaffe: from ocremix.org
WoW Soundtrack War:
WoW BC Soundtrack Silvermoon City:
Invincible Theme:
Dwarf Tavern Music:
Last Stand of the Blood Elves:
Warlords of Draenor Login Music:
Legion Anduin’s Theme:

If you have any suggestions, requests, or just general feedback let me know in the comments or with a message. I try my best to answer as many as I can.

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released in 2004 the world of warcraft has left quite the impact in the MMO genre and PC gaming as a whole when someone says videogame the first thing that most people think of is mario zelda danky kang and world of warcraft jokingly referred to as world of warcraft due to its addicting nature it took the MMORPG world by storm and reached tens of millions of subscribers it's been parodied to death emulated and due to its success even a movie was created about the Warcraft universe everyone is plated or at least know someone who's played it at some point but the question is why what secret does this game hold and how did it capture such a broad audience in this video we'll cover its creation and go over all of the major events in the games near 14-year timeline as of 2018 that made it what it is today so it all began in 1999 George Lucas's Star Wars the episode 1 The Phantom Menace was just released Pokemon had the entire US population firmly in its grasp the world was getting ready for the y2k Armageddon and more importantly the game every quest was launched this was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG for short and it was the first commercially successful one to use a 3d game engine it really brought the genre to the forefront and showed just how much potential it had straying away from the established linear style RPG at the time rather going for more of an open-world sandbox and focusing on that massively multiplayer aspect behind the scenes of all of this the first pulse of the world of warcraft was recorded blizzards Warcraft franchise was rolling strong at this point with the first Warcraft orcs and humans being released in 1994 and following shortly after its sequel Warcraft 2 the tides of darkness in 1995 these were fun little strategy games received quite well with the sequel selling over 2 million copies and even getting an expansion called beyond the dark portal enter the world of Azeroth humans elves works trolls it's the bread and butter fantasy setting with spells dragons and most importantly a lot of potential too much to fit into a simple RTS game as most of the lore was packed into the manuals that came with the game but with this Blizzard had three great franchises under their belts Starcraft Diablo and their flagship Warcraft Diablo would see how widely acclaimed sequel in year 2000 and Starcraft in 2010 over a decade after the first and in 2002 Warcraft saw a third installment in the series with reign of chaos and the Frozen Throne an expansion pack one year later in 2003 once again great little RTS games that improved on the previous games in almost every way but still too small a vessel for what Blizzard imagined the franchise to be lurking in the background they had something else in mind during these early 2000s these MMORPGs were growing in popularity with games like EverQuest as mentioned earlier Ultima Online runescape Star Wars Galaxies and so on it was something totally different a huge virtual sandbox world for you to explore with people from all over at the real world the goal wasn't to finish a storyline or see a credits screen it was what you made of it you built your own story and with thousands of others you built your own communities and virtual world the potential was there and it was just a matter of time before one game in particular caught fire beyond the gates of mighty kingdoms lies a vast unexplored best board the 2001 world of warcraft was first announced at the European computer tradeshow making its debut with the cinematic it promised a world of mystery adventure and danger not just a single-player realtime strategy game with the campaign bed you could beat in a day like the previous games of the franchise but rather well a whole world a full 3d environment a personalised avatar that you created multiple continent zones races classes all of the bells and whistles of the MMORPG genre at the time it was clear that every quest was an inspiration in its design but a simple clone won't cut it they had to do something different so was their hook well basically it was that it would be more accessible to the everyday player at this point things such as XP or gear laughs upon death or even permanent character death were a commonplace in the MMO scene as well as picking your stats and putting in points during the character creation before you even knew what you were doing it was pretty hardcore so the world of warcraft wanted to give a more laid-back and casual experience that didn't punish the player for dying or require extreme knowledge of RPGs in general to play in a genre that was growing rapidly in popularity they tried to appeal to this untapped market all the while maintaining that while it'll be easy to learn it'll still be just as hard as the others to master as more and more details at the game were unveiled the initial reaction was actually uneasiness from the fans of the series the previous games are simple single-player experiences you buy a game you pop it into your system and you start playing that's all you need but MMORPGs broke these rules you need an active internet connection to even play it and not only that in addition to the game he also needed to pay an extra monthly subscription fee today this is common but back in 2001 even computers were still pretty new to a lot of us what if we got a phone call while we were playing what happens then you had better hoped that you weren't in combat that's for sure I can hear those AOL logging sounds now and as for the subscription fee is this a game or a magazine it was much more foreign to the average gamer and left many unsure of the direction of the series regardless development continued throughout the years as more and more of the finer details of how the game was going to work were released via the computer gaming world magazine issued 208 released in November 2001 initially there are just three races humans orcs and torrents and you would have vast character customization options a huge selection of different armor and weapons to obtain you'll be able to visit an old areas in past Warcraft games and of course new ones as well fans odd and odd had the preview screenshots and slowly but surely started to get an idea of the world that Blizzard was creating and the anticipation of the end product grew and grew to tide them over the third installment of the Warcraft franchise was released in July of 2002 as mentioned earlier the big project though was World of Warcraft at this point around 50 people were all working together around the clock on the game adding more and more of their planned features giving previews building the world and trying to create something playable for the eager fans to test they were stepping into unfamiliar territory for sure but the passion for what they were creating carried them through it this development continued until February 2004 when the first beta test launched finally the game was opened up to the general public three years after the initial announcement and looking at screenshots reading articles and watching gameplay trailers players at last got to enter the world of warcraft they were finally able to create their own avatar and start their own adventure at this point players found something that more resembled the actual November 2004 release of the game many more races were playable several different classes a working questing system and so on it was an MMO in the Warcraft universe and after several months of testing its official release in North America Australia and New Zealand on November 23rd 2004 just as they had promised the game offered a far more casual experience with low penalty to dying easy to jump in an easier learning curve with the combat questing and character building systems it was the casual players MMORPG and at the time very polished all in all it launched with 60 levels of character progression to continents with 41 zones to factions the whoredom alliance with eight playable races nine different character classes hundreds and hundreds of quests dozens of dungeons to crawl through and to rates to complete and to support the eager fanbase eighty-eight servers critics found few negative aspects to bring up and it received numerous awards upon launch with many more in the months to come the world was entirely new and for a lot of players so too was the genre there were refugees from other big animals like EverQuest or Star Wars Galaxies but due to its casual nature the world of warcraft was the first MMO for a lot of people about 250,000 in fact judging by the archived subscriber numbers which was very good at the time remember MMOs are still growing in popularity and unlike the RTS games which sold millions within the first few months of release these required an active internet connection and a monthly subscription fee combine that with the stellar graphics at the time and thus a good computer recorded to run it properly to reach 250,000 sales and subscriptions through all of these hurdles was impressive to say the least and as word spread this would be just a fraction of the games peak it's major competitor was EverQuest and although their subscription numbers were never public based off of press sources they were estimated to have around 400,000 ish around the time World of Warcraft released and this would decrease in the months to come as Warcraft gained popularity whether it was dungeon crawling with a group of four friends facing off against enemy players of the opposing faction or going through a raid with 39 other members of your guild players found themselves gripped by the new MMO and found it hard to put it down it was everything they wanted and more remember that term world of warcraft even reaching the maximum level was very time consuming and addiction started becoming a common thing people got fired from their jobs or they just flat-out quit to play more and sadly friendships and even lives were claimed with the most extreme cases it was almost frightening how addicted people would get it's a trait with MMORPGs in general but it said a lot about the quality of World of Warcraft in particular with how wide it spread as the subscriber numbers grew into grew and it was becoming clear that this was the new MMO to play Blizzard expanded into other regions with releases to South Korea in January of 2005 Europe one month later in February and China in June of the same year the race was on between regions and guilds two level to the max and to be the first to claim a raid boss kill and finally after two months the raid boss Onyxia fell at the hands of the guild ruined from the US on January 30th 2005 as the players were progressing through these dungeons and raids the subscribers grew and grew and thus too did the investment of time and money into the game over time it's on provements in every aspect Warcraft as a series was no longer blizzards flagship it was World of Warcraft itself more dungeons and raids would be added the PvP would be improved and so on to retain the player base the subscriptions rose reaching a staggering 1 million in February 2005 just four months after the launch and more than double than ever quests projected peak just a few months later in June of the same year this number had tripled to an astonishing 3 million the gaming world had World of Warcraft fever lizard projected 1 million subscribers in one year so to triple that and just half a year after lunch was astounding they weren't prepared hardware wise and struggled to keep up with the growing player base server downtime that became commonplace as they struggled to keep up kind of a good problem to have but the frustration still arose as you would imagine being that it was a monthly subscription based game it was during this boom then it started spilling out into the real world the first viral video showcased a player named Leroy Jenkins half-assedly charging into a dungeon room while his comrades came up with a plan for attack resulting in their deaths the video caught on and was shared all over the place in various gaming forums news websites and even created a new term within the genre called Leroy Inge where a player foolishly charges into the fray with no regard to his own safety or that of his party members in November of the same year it became a piece of trivia in the popular game show Jeopardy although all three contestants didn't know the answer and that would be the world of warcraft all right we have Leroy you were just stupid as hell interestingly enough going back to our subscriber chart here the video released in May and just one month later the game saw one of its biggest spikes and subscriber numbers you can't officially confirm any correlation here but it's funny to think that one video may have actually had such a substantial impact in the popularity and spread of the game in September of the same year the world of warcraft became a subject of study in epidemic and terrorism research when a virtual pandemic broke out within the world of Azeroth players could be afflicted with the spell called corrupted blood which would damage them and also spread to nearby party members this was intended to remain within the confines of a great instance but players found out how to bring it into the major cities with dense populations and maliciously spread it to other annoying players and non player characters within hours these major hubs became uninhabitable as the disease spread between its dense population until finally days later Blizzard was able to remedy the situation by introducing a patch and restarting every server this event would later be compared to the swine flu pandemic and is still used today in research in the spread of diseases the world of warcraft continued to grow either through word of mouth or commercial advertisements and nearly a year later after the Leroy Jenkins video released another video related to world of warcraft went viral in April of 2006 that means five titled the Onyxia wipe animation this didn't show the light-hearted mishaps of an overzealous adventurer but rather than of a raid leader who is less than impressed at the performance of his comrades and their attempt to kill Onyxia a raid boss this instead displayed a darker side of the game of how much it gripped people and the consequences of addiction months later in October more light was shed on the game via the cartoon series South Park with her Warcraft theme make love not war craft episode the plot centered around four friends who cast away their social lives and health in exchange for becoming more powerful in the game to defeat an unnamed player who continuously kills lower level players for his amusement this episode was watched by 3.4 million viewers making it the highest rated midseason premiere on the Comedy Central Network since the year 2000 and receiving the Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding animated programs in 2007 over a decade later it still ranks upon the series most popular episodes with all of this surrounding the world of warcraft the game grew and so too did its subscriber count and by the end of the lifespan of the base game eight million players worldwide found themselves lost in the world of Azeroth On January 16 2007 the first expansion set for World of Warcraft launched named the Burning Crusade this expansion focused on calling the invasion of a demon army upon Azeroth going through a portal into their realm and taking out their commanders including returning protagonists and antagonists from the Warcraft franchise such as Illidan Stormrage and Kael'thas Sunstrider it sold nearly 2.4 million copies within 24 hours of launch making it the fastest selling PC game ever made at that point the world was built in the base game so now is the time to start adding more and more story every gameplay system was updated and improved classes were balanced further new dungeons and raids were added it was an expansion set a good one too as the subscriptions continued to increase astonishingly enough throughout the course of the base game and this expansion there hadn't been a single month in which the world of warcraft had lost subscribers not only was Blizzard drying in new fans but they were also retaining the current ones and it was also during this time when Blizzard launched their unique ad campaign where celebrities would talk about their experiences in the world of warcraft such as Verne Troyer mr. t and William Shatner although Verne was the only one confirmed to have actually played the game the Warcraft the number one online game try it for free at Warcraft calm the game progressed is normal receiving more and more updates and in January 2008 it broke the 10 million subscriber milestone and even still this would not be the peak it was still the top MMO in the entire genre by a longshot dwarf in all competition which struggled to reach just 1 million subscribers the competition did start to ramp up though one of the first games not to be quote the wild killer was the Age of Conan and it's our release in May of 2008 the game boasted a unique reactive combat system stunning graphics and an adult theme it won many awards for its showing at various gaming conventions upon release it received favorable review from critics but poor reviews from the players citing bugs missing zones and a complete lack of endgame content 1 million copies were shipped upon launch but the subscriber number quickly declined as those flaws were uncovered Warhammer Online released in September of the same year was also anticipated to be the MMO to overtake World of Warcraft similar in the fantasy setting with orcs elves and magic it was the most comparable MMO to world of warcraft yet with the long-running franchise to back it up the game saw little success however peaking with the mere 800 thousand subscribers compared the World of Warcraft's 10 million and dropping further to 300,000 in the months to come before going free-to-play and eventually a total shutdown on December of 2013 five years later this was due to an overall unpolished experience compared to the world of warcraft a lacking endgame and various technical problems such as erroneously billing players for multiple subscriptions in a single day with the highest charges reported and going into the thousands through all of this the world of warcraft sailed on with great success and on November 13th 2008 it's not second expansion the wrath of the lich king following suit with the Burning Crusade another antagonist was brought in from the Warcraft franchise as Blizzard sought to bring more story and lore into the series this time it was Arthas Menethil the Lich King and master of the undead players launched a campaign in the continent of north Rend to challenge the Lich Lord at his own seat of power and just as you'd expect more dungeons raids and more gameplay systems were added to satiate the now 10 million strong player base 2.8 million copies in total were sold breaking their own record of the fastest selling PC game of all time set by the Burning Crusade expansion this expansion revisited their initial design of the casual friendly and memo RPG combined with easier access to dungeons via a new system called the dungeon finder this expansion was seen as the end of the hardcore era of World of Warcraft by many players and many hold it in high regard as the peak of the game I thought supported by the ever-growing subscriber numbers with the game reaching its all-time peak of 12 million in October of 2010 out of the released numbers the game at this point had still never had a month where the subscribers dipped although reports came in less and less starting with the Burning Crusade there are a lot of skipped months where we very well could have seen a small dip in the same year China finally saw a release of the Burning Crusade expansion three years after its original release this is due to the amount of censorship needed to release the game bones and gore weren't allowed to be shown in excess so many of the in-game assets had to be altered both in the base game and all of its expansions thus slowing their release they would only see a Wrath of the Lich King release months later due to the same reason the expansion overall was a huge financial and critical success however although it was received well by players it wasn't without problems outside of the game I'm July 6th towards the tail end of the expansion Blizzard announced their plans to introduce the Real ID system on their official forums which would change the author of all posts from the normally used in game avatar to the real-life named tied to the posters account this was met with Swift and heavy backlash by players and curious onlookers alike spurring hundreds of third-party articles being published about the fiasco addressing concerns about the privacy of the forum users the situation quickly turned ugly as users started posting personal information of employees of blizzards such as phone numbers their personal facebook pages and even their street addresses and that of their friends and family three days later after an overwhelming negative response Blizzard rescinded their plans to make the posters names visible although to this day it still remains to be one of their biggest controversies at the end of 2010 in November the world Warcraft side's biggest change yet in its current six-year run the original launch continents the Eastern Kingdoms and calendar had been completely changed and reworked in preparation for the new expansion Cataclysm feeling that the world that they created in 2004 had become outdated the land quests and classes major reworks in the game's most volatile expansion yet more content was added just like the previous expansion and the ease of access design approach accelerated with the introduction of the looking for raid system termed LFR for short which made the endgame activity rating much more accessible to the everyday player more dungeons raids and the normal expansion updates came as you would expect the hype was huge and players were eager for a new adventure and in similar fashion Blizzard once more broke the record of the fastest selling PC game of all time with 3.3 million copies sold on release once the players dived into the game however the reception was mixed for the first time and in March of 2011 the world of warcraft sats first public loss of subscribers since its release in november 2004 over six years ago the MMO genre in general at this point also declined in popularity the market had become oversaturated with hundreds and hundreds of free-to-play MMORPG G's and what used to be a rising unique genre became almost exhausting for gamers because of this and the volatility of the Cataclysm expansion itself the subscriber numbers continued to wane for Blizzard throughout the years of 2011 and 2012 dropping to its lowest to nine million in July of 2012 just 75 percent of its peak two years prior another contributing factor to this decrease was the slowdown of content the game is updated through major content patches a practice that's been maintained at a steady pace up until the end of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion inter expansion updates at this point were fairly reasonable the time between the last patch for the base game and the release of the Burning Crusade was just under three months this increased to just under 7 months between the end of the Burning Crusade and the beginning of the Wrath of the Lich King and even further to 9 to 10 months between the end of the Lich King 2 Cataclysm and Cataclysm 2 Pandaria these content droughts were seen as far too long by players and slowly but surely the last interest and found their gaming fix elsewhere Blizzard finally saw their first increase in subscribers two years later with the release of the mists of pandaria expansion where the war between the horde and Alliance is reignited and they fight over control of an unexplored world this would be short-lived however as the hype died down shortly after its release and interest continued to wane dropping as low as 6.8 million subscribers in June of 2014 the lowest it's been since its initial rise to glory in 2006 the inter expansion patch gap grew to 13 months the longest yet the new warlords of draenor expansion was announced promising to go back to the roots of World of Warcraft and revisiting the same world as the Burning Crusade expansion before it became corrupted by the Burning Legion we would go through the dark portal once more seven years later and visit the world of Draenor and once again stop an invasion that threatens all life on Azeroth this time the antagonist is Grommash Hellscream an orc warlord and the leader of the iron horde the hyper reached critical mass and many anticipated the grand return of the World of Warcraft and relived their days in the Outland the expansion saw release on November 13 to 2014 and the game saw an explosion of new and returning players in just three months the game saw 2.6 million subscriber increase bringing it back to 10 million the highest it's been since the launch of the mists of pandaria expansion just in time for its 10-year anniversary the expansion itself sold 3.3 million copies matching their sales of the Cataclysm expansion four years ago for the first time in a long time players experienced queues to log into the game due to the servers being at full capacity a good problem to have you would think but after three days of queues and extreme leg from the bustling launch the patience of the players was tested while the release of Draenor was a financial success the expansion as a whole had little to offer the raids added were far fewer compared to previous expansions with just three throughout the entirety event a large amount of energy instead went into the garrison system which served as the base of operations for the player in their campaign against the iron horde something that was met with heavy criticism by the game's player base citing that these Garrison's had aspects of mobile gaming such as daily missions to launch to get rewards in both gear and gold the garrisons themselves were also seen to be too powerful offering too much to the player in their own separate instance thus leaving little reason to ever leave them taking away the biggest aspect of any MMO and it made it seem like a single-player game at times a problem that was exacerbated with the extreme loss of subscriptions that followed after the initial height down the game sides sharpest declined subscribers yet quickly dropping from 10 million in December of 2014 to 7.1 just three months later in March of 2015 and further to 5.6 million in June of the same year its lowest since December of 2005 during its rise Blizzard chose to withhold information of their amount of subscribers from this point forward with a little amount of content and had the warlords of draenor trudged forward with its final patch 6.2 just one of three major patches and the expansion if you count the pre patch the inter expansion patch downtime was against staggering clocking in at 13 months between six point two on June 23rd 2015 and seven point 0.3 on July 19 2016 through the success of the cash shop and the ability to buy level boosts and other cosmetic items the warlords of draenor turned out better than expected financially for Blizzard but the future of the game looked bleak during this time Blizzard looked for success outside of the game with their feature film Warcraft directed by Duncan Jones this movie brought the story of the Warcraft universe to the big screen and had been announced as early as 2006 it premiered in the United States on June 10th 2016 and while it grossed over 400 million dollars worldwide it was met with negative reviews and a disappointing domestic box-office performance critics itíd that the plot was confusing and hard to follow for those unfamiliar with the franchise the next expansion World of Warcraft Legion released on August 30th 2016 this expansion promised all of the normal things that players have come to expect out of an expansion at this point more character levels new gameplay features raids major updates to the core gameplay of each class and most importantly a faster patch cycle including pre-orders they had sold 3.3 million copies by the end of its release date the actual expansion received a fair reception without any public subscription numbers only Blizzard knows but overall Legion was a nice recovery from the warlords of Draenor the more minor patches became more major and their speed in general was increased with around 11 weeks between these patches giving players something to work on and trying to avoid those long droughts that became commonplace at this point the problems from Draenor were addressed and there were no Garrison's instead being replaced by the toned down order Hall system and over the course of its two-year run its add 5 raids a respectable amount and many new features added within the game making it technically one of the biggest expansions yet in terms of rock content and new features this brings us to the current day the next expansion is the battle for Azeroth which seemingly reignites the War Between the Alliance and the Horde once more it's set to launch on August 14 2018 this video was made during the inter expansion downtime which will be about six months not too bad and it's a number that they haven't met since the Burning Crusade – the wrath of the lich king drive so that's the current near 14 year history of World of Warcraft what a long strange trip it's been highs and lows for sure some people believe that the highs are all behind us and what's made the game special has faded away during its 14-year run and others still have just as much fun as they did back in November 2004 in the beginning of the video I asked what made it special what was it about this MMO that touched so many for the past 14 years such that there exists several emulated servers for each expansion and even an upcoming official release by Blizzard of the game in its original vanilla state over a decade ago I don't think it's one simple answer but it's what I said earlier in comparison to the other reigning and the Mo's at the time it was designed to be much easier to get into forgoing those harsh penalties to dying and just having an easier learning curve in general the ease of access quickly caught on and it was the first MMO for many people and your first MMO is a pretty unique and memorable experience being used to linear single-player RPGs such as Final Fantasy or Zelda and stepping into this massive world for the first time and you didn't go through it alone you made friends joined guilds and went through the toughest challenges together the concept of a boss that took 40 people to kill was foreign to a lot of players you watched your character and the game evolve before your very eyes over the course of years not days nor weeks like the classic RPGs it delivered a fresh and unique product in a growing genre and left a huge impact in the MMO scene on the gaming industry as a whole and on the people who've played it and it'll go down as one of the greats in gaming history it's a story that's had ups and downs and continues to this day for some it ended long ago but for others the drums of war Thunder once again farewell for now mortals hope you enjoyed today's the deal see you were gay