02:01 PM

'Lich King' Chapter Of World Of Warcraft Begins

The massively multiplayer online role-playing game requires the player to have the original World Of Warcraft game and its first extension.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

World Of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King
(click for larger image)

Blizzard Entertainment on Thursday released an extension of the popular World Of Warcraft PC game, unleashing a new virtual world for players to slay monsters and grab booty and power.

World Of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King hit store shelves initially in North America, Europe, Argentina, Chile, and Russia. The second expansion to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game will be rolled out to countries in Asia and other regions over the next five days.

Warcraft, which debuted in 2004, is played by more than 11 million people worldwide who trade the real world for a virtual one of mystical creatures, swords, and sorcery. Players typically band together to battle enemy armies. Winning adds power to players' characters and treasure to their coffers. The game also is known for intensive player-versus-player combat.

Serious Warcraft fans log in for several hours a day, often trading sleep for a bit of escapism. The Lich King adds a cold, forbidding continent called Northrend, where players battle the zombie army of the malevolent Lich King and solve the mysteries of the strange new land. New features include the introduction of vehicles and siege machines in player-versus-player zones and new technology that alters how players see the world depending on the stage quest they're in. Players also have the opportunity to increase the maximum strength of their characters from a level 70 to 80.

Lich King is sold on DVD for Windows XP and Vista and for Mac OS X and priced at $40. A collector's edition is available for $70. The game requires the player also to have the original World Of Warcraft game and its first extension World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. The games sell for $20 and $30, respectively, or as a package for $40. Players pay about $15 a month to play online.

Video games have grown into a multibillion-dollar business in the United States alone. As of September, industry sales were 26% ahead of last year and on track to reach $22 billion or more for the year, according to the NPD Group.

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