World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King has launched in London to a heaving crowd at Oxford Street’s HMV.
Thousands queued outside the store to welcome in the second add-on to the world’s favourite MMO – find our gallery from the night here – with the usual assortment of cosplayers, children, grey gamers and the core in heavy attendance.
Full article and loads more photos after the break.
Blizzard COO Paul Sams took to the stage at the event with associate producer Lee Sparks, thanked the fans, caused a shout-off between Horde and Alliance and counted down the final ten seconds to the game’s release to rapturous cheers and a mass salute.
“It’s great to be here,” Sharp had said earlier in the evening in an interview with VG247, “and being able to meet the fans is great. Being able to meet fans from a different culture is great too.”
The grins were broad as the first in line, a wide-eyed chap called Ben West, stepped up with his Collector’s Edition for signatures from the two Blizzard men.
Sams took the whole thing in his stride.
“This is a big event. It’s a big event for us,” he told us before taking to the stage.
“We’ve had the good fortune to have some pretty big player events with Blizzcon and WWI, and I’ve stood in front of some pretty big crowds,” Sams said when we asked if he was nervous.
“I’m not so much worried about that, but we want to make sure it’s a good experience for all the players.
“The big issue for us is that everything goes off as planned… We’re very excited about it. We’re dispersing developers and executives around the world so they can interact with the players and see what they have to say.”
British journalists, “fresh” from a night on Blizzard UK in Regent Street’s Ice Bar, looked suitably bewildered as the crowd filed through, a long night ahead of the staff on duty.
Looking like a million dollars
The queue outside HMV was gigantic, and if the reponse to Wrath of the Lich King in London is indicative of midnight launches in major US cities tonight, Blizzard will almost certainly smash the 2.4 million sales in 24 hours record set by The Burning Crusade.
Collector’s Editions in the store tonight were retailing for £50 – from the look of it, there aren’t going to be many left.
Earlier this week, Janco’s Mike Hickey predicted that the product could shift as many as 5 million units in the first month on sale.
Sams, however, refused to place an expectation on Wrath of the Lich king’s opening sales.
“When we launched Burning Crusade, we did 2.4 million copies in the first 24 hours,” said Sams. “We did 3.5 million in the first month, and today we’ve got 11 million subscribers against the 8.5 million back then. So, I think it’s reasonable to think that we’re going to do similar numbers and potentially greater numbers, but we don’t have a specific target that we’re publicizing.”
Whatever the sales outcome, though, there was no doubt of the sheer happiness on the faces of the crowd tonight, cheering as Blizzard brought out a real life genyooine Lich King for photo opps and baying for t-shirts time-honoured fashion.
We’ll have more photos from the launch and more info from out interview with Paul and Lee in the morning.
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