Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft helped shape the massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming industry since the saga began with Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. The fantasy saga is packed with orcs, elves, demons, giants, and humanoids, which all call the world of Azeroth home. It has spawned multiple games, expansions, books, comics, and even a major motion picture — 2016’s World of Warcraft, which was a significant hit overseas and helped revive China’s interest in American cinema.

Some gamers have criticized Blizzard Activision’s World of Warcraft for sending the MMO community into a sharp left turn toward theme park-ville after the creativity-rich, massively multiplay online games that were at their height of popularity from 2003-2005. But they seem to all agree that it’s unlikely that any other game in that same time and place would have had such a meteoric rise in popularity as World of Warcraft. It was one of the first real-time strategy games, after all.

World of Warcraft’s Origin Story

The basic lore of the World of Warcraft universe starts with the Titans. Once awakened from an eternal slumber, the God-like species wandered the land searching for their own kind. They are credited with shaping multiple worlds and maintaining order throughout the lands.

Titan Sargeras slays a corrupted world-soul — an act that angers the other Titans. Peace across the world is shattered forever once the evil Old Gods begin to corrupt the slumbering Titan world-souls.

That moment in World of Warcraft lore can be considered the catalyst for Sargeras’ journey into darkness. He goes on to raise an army of Demons and start the Burning Crusade to rid the universe of all living things. According to fans of Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, this is one example of the game’s rich lore that keeps them coming back to join in raids and adventures with gamers from around the globe.

Arthas Menethil is the main character of Activision’s World of Warcraft fantasy series. He was the crown prince of Lordaeron and a holy warrior for the Silver Hand. After being corrupted by Frostmourne’s cursed blade, he became the Lich King, one of the most noteworthy antagonists in the lore of World of Warcraft.

“Early on in the development of Warcraft III, we knew the game would be about heroes leading their armies into battle. We initially created Arthas as one of those leaders, so we knew from the beginning he would be central to the storyline,” explains Greg Street, a game designer for Blizzard Activision’s Warcraft games. “He’s central to the storyline since he’s the bridge between the human and the undead campaigns.” Arthas is a popular character choice for those that enjoy the crossover multiplayer online battle arena game Heroes of the Storm.

Why Activision’s World of Warcraft Is One of the Highest-grossing Video Game Franchises of All Time

Much like most massively multiplayer online games, World of Warcraft encourages players to work together to complete quests, engage in player vs. player combat, enter dungeons and earn points to level up their characters. The goal is to get better equipment, armor, and weapons, which can be bought and sold throughout the game.

Activision released its World of Warcraft game in 2004 in honor of the 10th anniversary of the first game’s launch, and by 2010 it had reached a peak of 12 million subscribers. By 2017 it had grossed more than $9.23 billion in revenue — that makes it one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time. It allows players to build their own character avatar. Players also choose to explore the open game world in either third or first person for a truly unique gaming experience.

Today the Activision Blizzard company is committed to improving the game to ensure that it is inclusive for all players. “We just set up a process internally for folks across the team, as well as sourcing some feedback from the community as a whole to flag pieces of the game for review, whether it’s old quests or specific lines,” says Ion Hazzikostas, the World of Warcraft Shadowlands director. “In the grand scheme of things, these are small changes. Many of them would probably go unnoticed if not for that spotlight being shone on them. But they’re things that were important to the team, and we’ve heard from many in our community that they’re important to them.”