With only a couple of weeks left until the Wrath of the Lich King expansion officially launches in many regions around the world, on 13th November to be precise, Blizzard Entertainment has announced a huge milestone for an online game. Yep, it would appear that global subscriptions to World of Warcraft have now gone past the 11 million player mark.

Blimey O'Reilly! That means that WoW really does deserve the Massively bit of the MMORPG tag, unlike many of its imitators it has to be said. It also means that the online virtual world has a population to surpass many major real world cities and even small countries. It is, quite frankly, huge.

What's more, this huge online gaming population explosion within WoW has taken place all within a time frame of just under four years. World of Warcraft originally launched in North America on November 23rd 2004, although for many it does seem like it has been around forever of course.

According to Blizzard, it was the bestselling PC game of both 2005 and 2006, finishing in second place behind the first WoW expansion pack, The Burning Crusade, in 2007. That expansion pack, by the way, holing the record for being the fastest selling PC game of all time with 2.4 million copies sold in the first 24 hours and 3.5 million in the first month of release.

"It's been very rewarding to see gamers around the world continue to show such strong support for World of Warcraft," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We remain fully committed to responding to that enthusiasm with a high-quality, constantly evolving game experience."

There have also been hiccups along the way, such as the six million dollar World of Warcraft bot and the WoW Spam Crusades.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

The numbers are great on the paper to show off your growing community. However as with everything they forgot to mention how many active players they have. Is it 1/2 of the total, 1/3 or even less?
We may never know...