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Blizzard counterprograms its latest World of Warcraft patch against Guild Wars 2′s debut

Time to snap on the adult diapers and pre-pay Pizza Hut to supply your home with 20-days-worth of pie, because Blizzard rolled out a hefty update to World of Warcraft.

Patch 5.0.4 will add a handful of major features to the successful massively multiplayer role-playing game. The dev upgraded the talent system, the character classes, the glyphs, and the looting mechanic. Additionally, Blizzard added account-wide mounts, pets, and achievements, so players can access that content regardless of the character they are running.

The new Theramore’s Fall Scenario is also available as part of this patch. It features two events, one for the Alliance and one for the Horde. It should lead right into the events of the coming Mists of Pandaria expansion. On the technology side, the dev added cross-realm zones and BattleTag support.

Cross-realm zones will attempt to solve the problem of desolate-feeling level-up zones. It will allow players who would normally be relegated to the high-level areas to team up with players who are still in the thick of the grind.

BattleTag support implements the same pseudonym solution that developer employed in Diablo III. A BattleTag is a player’s permanent Battle.net account name. It’s the account name that users provide when they don’t want to give out their real name.

Blizzard released World of Warcraft in 2004. Since then, the game has led the MMO pack with an astronomical number of subscribers. Other popular franchises, including Star Wars, Star Trek, and DC Comics, have tried and failed to match WOW’s vast appeal and dedicated base of paying customers.

Also launching today is NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2. This is another fantasy MMORPG that distinguishes itself by not charging a monthly subscription fee. Read some of our coverage of GW2′s launch here. Anticipation for this game has been building among restless MMO fans for months.

WOW once had over 12 million subscribers, but that number has dropped to just over 10 million. That’s still more than twice as much as the next closest in the genre, but it’s likely not a coincidence that Activision Blizzard scheduled this content drop on the release day of GW2.

Activision will release the latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, on September 25. Aside from introducing the monk character class and the Pandarian race, this add-on raises the level cap from 85 to 90. Mists of Pandaria retails for $39.99.


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