'Warcraft' expansion released

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Vivendi's Blizzard Entertainment on Tuesday started selling "World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade," the first expansion to the largest multiplayer online game, which has 8 million players worldwide.

Analysts expect Blizzard will sell easily millions of units at $20 each. The company, which does not detail game sales, gets revenue from unit sales and subscriptions, which cost about $15 per month in the United States.

Unlike traditional video games that have set plots a player navigates, massive online games operate in a so-called open world, where players can wage battle against each other. Companies that operate such online games often charge monthly subscriptions and for start-up software as well.

The expansion which went on sale in North America and Europe Tuesday, adds new content, including a new continent for players to explore, added levels, as well as new quests, monsters and dungeons.

Blizzard delayed the release of the game until after the holiday season to give its developers time to polish the final product.

The original "World of Warcraft" was released in November 2004 and has become a cultural phenomenon. In the United States, it inspired an episode of the satiric U.S. cable television cartoon "South Park" titled "Make Love, Not Warcraft" that first aired in October.

The game expansion will be available in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand Jan. 17, with availability in mainland China and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau to be announced at a later date.
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