Ottawa Citizen

Expansion to popular Warcraft video game to miss holiday launch

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An eagerly awaited expansion pack to the online video game World of Warcraft will not be ready in time for the key Christmas holiday season, the game’s maker said yesterday.

Gamers will instead have to wait until January to plumb the depths of Outland in The Burning Crusade, the World of Warcraft expansion pack that adds quests, locations and character levels to the online role- playing game.

WoW, as it is often called, has become a global phenomenon since its November 2004 launch and now has an estimated seven million subscriber­s, each paying about $ 15 U. S. per month to kill dragons like Onyxia or engage in player versus player combat.

Earlier this month, WoW maker Blizzard Entertainm­ent, a unit of French media company Vivendi SA, began testing the expansion pack with select players to help work out bugs.

Yesterday, the Irvine, California- based company said the January release affords a few extra weeks to polish the game.

Delaying a video game to fix problems is a much better alternativ­e to releasing it early riddled with bugs, said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets. He doubted the announceme­nt would affect Blizzard as much as it would a new standalone game for consoles like Sony Corp.’ s PlayStatio­n 3 or the Nintendo Wii.

“ The bulk of revenues are coming from ongoing subscripti­on fees,” he said. “ A huge installed fan base is buying the expansion pack regardless of when it’s released.”

Though pricing and an exact release date haven’t been confirmed by Blizzard, online video game store GameStop. com indicated a Jan. 23 ship date and a $ 39.99 U. S. price for the expansion.

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