When did World of Warcraft come out?

It's hard to believe it's been almost two decades.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been two decades since World of Warcraft was first released.

World of Warcraft took the characters, stories, and themes of Warcraft III, Blizzard’s celebrated real-time strategy game, and expanded them into a huge open world for players to explore. It’s the game that really put MMOs on the map, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it changed the gaming landscape forever.

When was World of Warcraft released?

World of Warcraft originally came out on Nov. 23, 2004, meaning that it will celebrate its 18th birthday this November. While the original game made a huge splash, it wouldn’t be anything without its expansions, all of which added new characters, campaigns, quests, and loot to the experience. Following the base game’s launch, Blizzard released The Burning Crusade on Jan. 16, 2007.

Though it took the development team a little longer to release The Burning Crusade, future expansions have almost always been released about two years apart. Wrath of the Lich King arrived on Nov. 13, 2008, and was followed by Cataclysm on Dec. 7, 2010. Mists of Pandaria was released a few months earlier than the two-year mark, arriving on Sept. 25, 2012. While World of Warcraft was definitely living up to the “massive” part of massively multiplayer by this point, there were still more expansions to come.

After being announced at BlizzCon, Warlords of Draenor was released on Nov. 13, 2014. Legion, with its iconic Illidan cover art, dropped on Aug. 30, 2016. Battle for Azeroth arrived on Aug. 14, 2018, and the most recent expansion, Shadowlands, graced the community on Nov. 23, 2020. Not to be forgotten is World of Warcraft Classic, a more “vanilla” experience for players who want to play the game as it was before any of the expansions. Classic was released on Aug. 26, 2019.

Going by these numbers, it’s almost time for a new World of Warcraft expansion. There’s no telling what Blizzard will release next, but one thing’s for sure: It will definitely be massive.