Thousands of World of Warcraft fans queued into the night to get their hands on the long-awaited expansion of the popular online game.
In the UK, more than two thousand gamers packed a London branch of HMV eager to purchase the extension, known as The Burning Crusade.
Many of the fans, some dressed as their favourite characters, had queued outside since the early afternoon.
Gamers also packed stores in Sweden, Germany, France and North America.
Although the extension was officially released on 16 January some UK retailers have been selling the game for the previous two days.
However, the fans queuing over night were keen to net more than just the basic extension.
Being one of the first in line gave fans a chance to meet the games designers and bag a copy of the collector's edition of the game which includes art work, a making-of DVD as well as other limited edition items.
Brad Carter of Southend, Essex queued with his wife and three children to get hold of the limited edition set.
"What an amazing evening," he told the BBC News website. Yes, it was cold standing in the queue - but we only arrived at 8pm, not the 16 hours some people are mentioning."
"Best of all we all got our collector's editions."
Players who attended the events in fancy dress were rewarded with in-game gifts such as pets.
But not all gamers are happy that they have to pay for the extension.
Ross Mckay from Edinburgh wrote: "I think it's a bit outrageous that Blizzard are charging for this add-on. They boast about having 8 million users worldwide what they don't mention is how much money they are making from subscription costs."
Paul Knox from Dublin agreed.
"I myself have been playing for about 2 years and have been paying £8.99 per month for the pleasure. Now that's quite a bit of money to splash out. Now Blizzard are expecting us to splash out even more."
World of Warcraft is set in the fantasy world of Azeroth and players spend their time turning their initially weak warriors, warlocks, rogues and others into more powerful characters by killing monsters and looting them for items or money.
Players pay a monthly fee to subscribe in addition to the cost of buying the CD of the game. The Burning Crusade extension costs £29.99 (45 euros).
The addition introduces two new races to Azeroth, a new continent as well as a host of new areas to explore and creatures to fight. It also gives very high level players the chance to become even more powerful and take on even mightier foes.
In preparation for the expansion, Blizzard released a significant update which changed many aspects of the game world for players even if they do not buy the expansion.
The Burning Crusade was initially due to go on sale in late 2006.
However, Blizzard delayed the launch saying it needed more time to refine the expansion. Many players were invited to be part of the testing team that played the expansion and spotted bugs in the early code.
The expansion will be available in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Thailand on 17 January.
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Pointless twaddle. Go play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or something, maybe even go outside! The only thing this game has going for it is that its addictive. It never gives you a conclusion so you never stop playing
Thomas Bird, Market Rasen
I just picked up a copy in the local store. No waiting, no hassle. The box I ordered online more than half a year ago is not even shipped yet. I feel relieved as for the last month it was getting more and more difficult to bother other in game friends to spend time together as current endgame content isn't worth it compared to the rewards in The Burning Crusade.
You are lucky you can play yours right away. I sadly play on the American servers and have to wait till gone the 20th to get mine from amazon.com (EU version not compatible). these next 4 days will be painful!
N Daire, Dorset
I pre-ordered my copy a while back from a UK retailer , they dispatched the copy on the 15th so if all goes well I should receive it in a few days . I find it amusing as well as a bit sad that people actually wait outside stores for hours in freezing weather just to get their "precious" a bit faster . I wonder how many of these people would make the same effort to cast their vote in the national elections .
papoo kangi, karachi pakistan
I think Blizzard underestimated how many people were waiting for the expansion, who had played long enough to amass multiple level 60 characters. So when the portal opened at 11pm GMT the mass of people waiting to dive into the portal promptly crashed our server (Turalyon). I foresee heavy congestion in the new zones for the next few weeks and I can only hope the servers are up to the challenge of handling all those people in such few zones. I'll find out tonight when I get to install the game (my copy arrived this morning)
Robert (Widdershin), Peterborough, UK
Silly people. Can you not see they designed the game to be addictive. A random chance of being rewarded on a given task. NWN2 is much better, more cerebral and less likely to make you forget to eat and die playing it.
Absolute disaster. I braved the freezing cold and rain last night and many stores didn't even have it in. I'm going back home empty-handed and depressed.
Steven James, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
Got my copy an hour ago, waited in line for about an hour to get it. Can't wait to jump through the portal and get started. Installing now... :D
M Anderson, Dunedin, NZ
I've played the first game a bit, but queuing overnight to get a copy is a wee bit sad in my view!
Is it only me or the world has gone bananas? Having read some of the comments here, people making it sounds like this game is better than sex. It is only a game, right? How can you get so much pleasure and satisfaction on something unreal? I'm lost... maybe I just don't get it.
Last night I slept very well. Today I got the bus to work and saw no orks, dwarves or dragons. Oh, sorry, is this a PC game you're on about and not the real world? Forgive me, I was thinking people were discussing something that was interesting.
Kris, Leeds, Uk
I have just spent 16 hours queuing and my god was it worth it. I have already got to level 63 and I think the game rocks. WOW is now my life for the next two months. Huckleberry8 Rules !
Henry Garden, Ringwood, UK
Its time to ditch the old distribution methods and just offer the files for download, at least as an option. If anyone should realise this its an MMO publisher. I don't understand why they don't as they stand to make more out of it since there's no middleman to pay, and everyone would be happier - especially those people in smaller countries who have been given smaller allocations or have a slower postal service. My copy arrived this morning, while those who got lucky with the post were able to play last night from 11pm. My guild has already started with the quests and I'm going to find it hard to catch up if I want to group with them while levelling.
I ordered TBC online and it arrived yesterday morning at my parents' house. My dad dropped it in when I got home from work at 10pm and I installed it straight away. The party atmosphere at the Dark Portal was electric, and at midnight when we passed through it was incredibly exciting. The new zones are very creative, and lots of fun, with well thought out quests and characters. And to cap it all, the innkeeper in Thrallmar is called Floyd Pinkus!
Kris, Cardiff, Wales
Ah the wonders of 'pre-order', my copy arrived yesterday, and by midnight, I had it installed, patched and one of the new races rolled. Time will tell as to whether it is worth the wait, the proof is not in the hype, or how good looking the new areas are, it is how appealing and addictive the new raid/pvp content is.
John, Leeds, UK
I ordered my copy of TBC (the burning crusade) in November from play.com and received it yesterday morning. After getting home that day from work I instantly installed it and waiting to upgrade my account and at 11.01 UK time. When the portal opened I was straight in there and honestly I believe the wait was truly worth it. Can't wait to get home again tonight and start exploring more. And lucky I am on a free new server so all runs nice.
Roy Kellett, Hyde, Manchester
Got mine yesterday morning (15th). Got home to play it at 8pm last night and had to wait 3 hours for another patch to download. Got in about an hour playing it before having to go to bed. Its going to be busy on the servers today.
I, like many others, forked out for the special collectors edition of The Burning Crusade. I was most annoyed to learn that the in-game pet would require me to send away proof-of-purchase and a special card to France in order to obtain it, all because of a mix up on Blizzards part. Just another example of the poor customer service World of Warcraft players receive. Oh, and the special mouse mat is in German. Just what I wanted! :(
Mine arrived bright and early this morning, thank you Amazon, Got it loaded and had a quick look....all I can say is WOW!
Opening cinematic is really good, first experiences through the gate ranged from awe to pure comedy which is what Blizzard are so good at. (Don't want to spoil it for people who haven't gone through the portal yet!). Overall I'd say the overriding impression I have at the moment is that they took everything they wanted for the original, and said to themselves "Bigger!!! Much BIGGER!!
Mark Richards, Addlestone, UK
I manage Shekhana Games in North London, and a lot of customers tried to convince me to sell my copies to them before the official launch date. It's hard to say no to someone offering to buy three copies at once but I refused. The game's hugely anticipated and no doubt will become a staple, constant seller. (I'll be taking my Collector's Edition home tonight!)
Dominic Pham, London
I was lucky enough to have my copy arrive on my doorstep yesterday morning ready to begin exploring Outland last night. There was a great carnival atmosphere whilst everyone waited for the portal to open then 49 of us lucky alliance proceeded through. Straight away we were impressed by the look of the land and had great fun starting off questing again. Looking forward to seeing what Outland can throw at us!!!
My copy arrived in the mail yesterday although I couldn't activate it until the official "go live" time of 11pm(uk time). I was pleasantly surprised: I expected horrendous lag, mass disconnects and server crashes but there was none of that. The account pages stayed up and the server was perfectly playable even with hundreds of players in the same area. As for the expansion - its just what the game needed: loads more content and a focus back to single player and small group quests which don't require 40 people to play 24/7 to complete!
The launch at HMV was a complete farce. We stood for over an hour before being told that if we didn't have wristbands, then we wouldn't be getting into the building as they didn't have enough copies of the game. There were only about 6/700 people let into the building "for security reasons" and apparently only three staff on the checkouts when the sale of the game was allowed after midnight. How they underestimated demand for this SO badly really does stun me. That the people who were most likely to turn up were the hard-core players and therefore the people Blizzard want to annoy the least, makes this doubly bad. What makes this even more comical is that anyone who has bought the Collector's Edition of the game in order to get an in-game pet, has to cut up the box and send it by mail to France in order to get the appropriate code. It seems Blizzard forgot to include a serial code in with the game. Although according to reports on the WoW Europe forums, some of the Collector's Editions are also missing either the DVD or the Soundtrack CD which were supposed to be in there. Considering this was delayed from before Xmas, it's not a particularly brilliant launch for a games company - who you'd think should actually have a clue of how to launch games.
Silas, London, UK
I managed to speak to a couple of people who had waited in the queues last night and they've done nothing to dampen my excitement. My girlfriend (yes, it is possible to be addicted to Warcrack and have a social life) pre-ordered it as a Christmas present so now it's just a matter of waiting for the postie... I'm 33 years old but seem to be feeling about 7!
Dibbie, Birmingham, UK
Got the bus into Birkenhead on Merseyside, NEVER seen a queue outside GAME until today, lots of copies all over town. I got there at 8.30am, people had been there since 7am. Home by 9.30am, installing now :) See you in the Outland people!
Matt Thomas, West Kirby
Fantastic game, and the expansion is very exciting. However, a huge disappointment to the people who ordered the collector's edition of the game - the company who distributed it made way, WAY too few copies available, and a lot of people were left very disillusioned. And as for some unscrupulous retailers...
P. Dant, Reading, UK
On the Aszune realm last night at 11pm (when the Dark Portal) opened, seeing 200-odd players charge through the Dark Portal into the new world was mesmerising and fantastic.
Paul Gibbs, Burgess Hill, England
I love videogames - I'm currently spending many happy hours fighting my way through Resident Evil 4 on the PS2 - but I cannot understand the fascination with this game. Maybe I don't have the time or patience, but it sounds like a lot of work, rather than fun!
Gareth Mackie, Halifax, UK
Hours of waiting for midnight spent outside the Dark Portal... everything looks good, crowds built up outside - 400 or so. The in-game clock began its countdown. Everyone stood there thinking what's on the other side. Midnight struck and at that exact moment, the server crashed. Excellent.
Xan, London, United Kingdom
I played the original and can't see what all the hype is about. I gave it two months before it hit the top shelf, never to see daylight again.
Tony, Bedford, England
The sky.. it's so pretty..! I want to ring in sick for work now.
Andrew, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Why do these people queue for the item? I received mine on Monday morning, ordered from play.com, I pre-ordered it on the 14th of December, it was posted Friday and came Monday, it saves a lot of hassle if you just do things the easy way, the expansion is great the new races look incredible.
Alan Nicholson, Manchester, England
Absolutely awesome, the changeover was flawless for me, and it kept me up until 3am questing. Still (well just) managed to get into work though! Heresy - Darkspear
R Evans, bracknell
Received my copy from play.com yesterday, so I was upgraded and patched by the time the Dark Portal to Outland opened at 11pm GMT. Was very impressive seeing all the players gathered at the portal and despite the mad rush to get into Outland, the servers held up very well. From what I saw in my brief time in Outland, the expansion is both a visually stunning and offers a lot of playability.
Sendraks, Leeds, UK