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Thursday, January 25 12:00 AM ET

Blizzard Announces Plans for Second WoW Expansion

By David Clipson

Irvine, CA - Blizzard Entertainment announced today that a second expansion set for World of Warcraft is under development. This marks the first time in Blizzard’s history that the company has planned to release new content for a game within a year of a previous release or expansion pack.

“In the past we have avoided overwhelming our customers with new, exciting content, carefully waiting one or two years between major updates. We feared alienating novice players by overloading our products with ‘concepts’ and ‘features.’ However, our new strategy is to release new content in small increments every six months, with an affordable price tag of $39.99 for each expansion."

The second expansion pack, yet to be named, will avoid “potentially confusing” innovative additions; instead Blizzard will adapt concepts already familiar to players. This time around, one race from each faction will be unlocked for the opposite side. Horde players will be able to adventure as the Gnome, and Alliance players will be able to create Tauren characters. There will be no new classes to play, but existing classes will receive a few new lackluster skills, accessible only to high-level characters.

No new zones will be added to the world. “We feel a new zone will only frustrate players who have already mastered grinding and camping strategies for the existing areas.”

However, the level cap will be increased to 75, adding months of game play time, during which elite players will be killing mob after mob to reach exponentially increasing experience requirements. To create a more varied gameplay experience, some monsters will be given new color palettes. Also, servers will be reworked to incorporate a new “random downtime generator,” designed to keep gamers on the edge.

The most heavily anticipated feature of the second expansion is a vast array of new weapons and equipment. The stylized, elite equipment will be rare and difficult to obtain. Some of these elite items, in fact, have a drop rate so low that Blizzard programmers were forced to add extra post-decimal digits to the game engine to prevent the drop percentages from rounding down to zero.

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“To be honest, we just get a kick out of watching players spend countless hours of their lives trying to obtain something that amounts to about twenty polygons and a low-resolution bitmap texture,” said one Blizzard employee before returning to counting his money stacks and laughing demonically.

World of Warcraft currently has over 8 million addicts, making it the most successful MMORPG in the world. The second expansion pack is set to be released in the summer of 2007, although Blizzard fans and critics agree it will probably be released in late 2009 with about half of the planned features.

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