Blizzard confirmed on Monday that World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
, the latest expansion for the leading MMORPG, will launch on December 7 this year at retail and as a digital download for $39.99 on Windows and Mac.
Retail stores will also have available a collector's edition of the expansion for $79.99, which includes the software and additional bonus items.
Blizzard Entertainment CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime said in a statement that Cataclysm
is "not just an expansion, but a re-creation of much of the original Azeroth."
The expansion introduces dramatically redesigned areas of the game that reflect a catastrophic event in the game's world. It also raises the level cap from 80 to 85 and adds new playable races for Horde and Alliance.
The game is currently in beta. "With the help of our beta testers, we're putting on the final polish, and we look forward to welcoming gamers around the world to enjoy it in just a couple of months," Morhaime added.
is the third expansion for World of Warcraft
. Blizzard released The Burning Crusade
in 2007 and Wrath of the Lich King
in 2008. The former sold 2.4 million units in its first 24 hours of availability, while the latter sold 2.8 million in its first day. World of Warcraft
originally launched in 2004.
In late 2008, Blizzard said
that World of Warcraft
had 11.5 million subscribers worldwide. The company has not publicly provided subscription figures since, but the game is a clear profit leader for Activision Blizzard.
CEO Bobby Kotick told investors
last month, "Today, probably 65 percent of our operating profit comes from online or online-related sources." The driver for high margins is World of Warcraft
, and the company hopes to widen those margins across its entire portfolio through an emphasis on online businesses.
With the confirmation that Cataclysm
will arrive this holiday, Blizzard will have launched two high-profile releases this year. In July, the developer released StarCraft II
, which sold 3 million units
in its first month, Blizzard said.
Overall, Activision Blizzard is shaping up for a strong holiday, as Activision's Treyarch studio prepares to launch Call of Duty: Black Ops