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Blizzard details World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s epic finale

Blizzard Entertainment isn’t known for doing things small. That holds especially true for the World of Warcraft’s next content patch, which will bring a close to the company’s most recent expansion pack, Cataclysm. The game’s designers revealed new details about that content patch today.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm started with a massive, powerful dragon god, Deathwing, laying waste to most of the game’s world, Azeroth. It ends with an epic showdown against that same dragon that will send players across the world and traveling through time. Players will have to visit a future where Deathwing has won control of Azeroth in order to convince another dragon god to send them further back in time to find the secret to defeating Deathwing. Players then team up with Thrall, the largest iconic hero in the game, to track down the key to defeating Deathwing.

If all that trotting around in the timeline wasn’t epic enough, the expansion culminates in an epic fight that literally takes place on the giant dragon’s back. You parachute off of an airship onto Deathwing’s back and try to pry armor plates off the beast. During the whole fight, Deathwing is trying to shake you off by doing barrel rolls and other maneuvers. Eventually, you wrestle him to the ground and face off with the same corrupted dragon that destroyed most of the world.

Grand finales aside, the announcement today indicates that World of Warcraft’s next expansion pack is on the horizon. Blizzard Entertainment’s yearly Blizzcon convention is set for the third weekend of the next month, beginning October 21. The company unveiled World of Warcraft: Cataclysm at 2009 Blizzcon — shortly after revealing details about the ending of the company’s second expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King.

World of Warcraft is one of the most dominant online games in the industry. It’s enjoyed that position since it launched in 2004, peaking at 12 million active subscribers. That number has since fallen for two straight quarters to around 11.1 million subscribers, a sign that the game might now be showing its age. The slip in subscribers has given other online games, like Trion Worlds’ Rift, an opportunity to step in and try to steal market share from the massive multiplayer online supergiant.

Cataclysm has also been a huge source of revenue for Activision-Blizzard. World of Warcraft charges players $15 a month to access the game. The company said digital revenues from properties such as World of Warcraft hit a new record, showing a 27 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago during the company’s most recent operating quarter. Digital revenues now account for 37 percent of the company’s total revenues.

Activision-Blizzard sold more than 4.7 million units of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm in the first month after it was released. Cataclysm’s sales topped 3.3 million sold on its first day of sales. By comparison, World of Warcraft’s previous expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, sold 2.8 million units on its first day in 2008, and The Burning Crusade sold 2.4 million units on its first day in 2007. World of Warcraft’s third expansion generated an estimated $188 million in retail sales in its first month.


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