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Warcraft is a franchise of video games, novels, and other media created by Blizzard Entertainment. The series is made up of five core games: Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. 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 fourth and best-selling title of the franchise is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), where players control their character and interact with each other in a virtual world. The most recent title is Hearthstone, a digital collectible card game. Warcraft is one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time, having grossed $11.2 billion in lifetime revenue, as of 2018.
Expansion sets were released for Warcraft II (Beyond the Dark Portal), Warcraft III (The Frozen Throne) and multiple expansions were released for World of Warcraft (The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor, Legion, Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands).
At BlizzCon 2018 on November 2, 2018, Blizzard announced a remaster of Warcraft III entitled Warcraft III: Reforged featuring remodeled characters and graphics with a prospective release in 2019. The game was officially released on January 28, 2020.
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 that make up the Eastern Kingdoms, and the Orcish Horde, which arrived in Azeroth via a dark portal, beginning the great wars. The Orcs came from another world, referred to as Draenor, the world that will be shattered into pieces by demonic magics during the events of Warcraft II, thereafter being known as Outland. Later on in the series the world of Azeroth was expanded, revealing the new continents of Kalimdor, Northrend, Pandaria, Broken Isles, Kul Tiras, and Zandalar, allowing the introduction of the Night Elves, Tauren, Pandaren, and other major races into the universe. The world of Azeroth also contains the traditional fantasy setting races of elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, and trolls.
The series spawned several books and other media, covering a broad range of characters and timelines in the Warcraft universe. A collectible card game was published, which offered those who bought booster packs a chance to gain access codes to limited in-game content in World of Warcraft. Comics have been released alongside the books, further covering parts of the universe’s storyline. A short-lived, online subscription only magazine was available but later ceased publication after five issues. A film adaptation, Warcraft, was released in 2016.The first three games in the Warcraft series, including their expansion packs, were all released on both the PC and Macintosh. 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. The name “Warcraft” was proposed by Blizzard developer Sam Didier. It was chosen because “it sounded super cool”, according to Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham, without any particular meaning attached to it.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness was the first game in the series to feature play over the internet using Battle.net, 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 bundled copy of the game containing both the original and expansion. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos was the first game in the series to feature a Collector’s Edition, which all subsequent games have released as well. Warcraft III and World of Warcraft also have both had “Battle Chests” released for them subsequent to their initial release. The “Battle.net” 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.
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, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (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 gained popularity worldwide, becoming the world’s largest subscription-based MMORPG in 2008. The game reached a peak 12 million subscribers worldwide in October 2010.