For the 2016 film based on the video games, see Warcraft (film).
Warcraft franchise

The official logo of the franchise
Genres Real-time strategy, MMORPG, collectible card game
Developers Blizzard Entertainment
Publishers Blizzard Entertainment
Creators Allen Adham
Frank Pearce
Michael Morhaime
Platforms DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Sega Saturn, AmigaOS 4, PlayStation, iOS, Android
First release Warcraft: Orcs & Humans
November 23, 1994[1]
Latest release World of Warcraft: Legion
August 30, 2016

Warcraft is a franchise of video games, novels, and other media created by Blizzard Entertainment. The series is made up of five core games: Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The first three of these core games are in the real-time strategy genre, where opposing players command virtual armies in battle against each other or a computer-controlled enemy. The fourth and best-selling title of the franchise is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), where players control their character and interact with each other in a virtual world. The most recent title is Hearthstone, a digital collectible card game.

Of these games, no expansion sets were released for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, but Warcraft II was accompanied by the release of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal and Warcraft III was accompanied by the release of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Multiple expansion packages also accompanied World of Warcraft, which include: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor and Legion.[2]

All games in the series have been set in and around the world of Azeroth, a high fantasy setting. Initially, the start of the series focused on the human nations that make up the Eastern Kingdoms, and the Orcish Horde, which arrived in Azeroth via a dark portal, beginning the great wars. The Orcs came from another world, referred to as Draenor, which then turns into Outland, the world that will be shattered into pieces by demonic magics during the events of Warcraft II. Later on in the series the world of Azeroth was expanded, revealing the new continents of Kalimdor, Northrend, Pandaria and Broken Isles, allowing the introduction of the Night Elves, Tauren and other major races into the universe. The world of Azeroth also contains the traditional fantasy setting races of elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, and trolls.[3][4]

The series also spawned several books and other media, covering a broad range of characters and timelines in the Warcraft universe.[5] A collectable card game was also published, which offered those who bought booster packs a chance to gain access codes to limited in-game content in World of Warcraft.[6][7] Many comics have also been released alongside the books, further covering parts of the universe's storyline. A short-lived, online subscription only magazine was also available but later ceased publication after just five issues.[8] A film adaptation was released in 2016.[9]

Video games

Timeline of release years
1994Warcraft: Orcs & Humans
1995Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness
1996Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal
1999Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition
2002Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
2003Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
2004World of Warcraft
2007World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
2008World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
2010World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
2012World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
2014Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
2016World of Warcraft: Legion

The first three games in the Warcraft series, including their expansion packs, were all released on both the PC and Macintosh. All of these games were of the real-time strategy genre. Each game proceeded to carry on the storyline of the previous games, and each introduced new features and content to improve gameplay. Warcraft III was the first game in the series to feature a Collector's Edition, which all subsequent games have released as well. Warcraft II was the first game in the series to feature play over the internet using Battle.net, although this was not included until a later release of the game. Warcraft II was also the first in the series to be re-released as a "Battle Chest", a bundled copy of the game containing both the original and expansion. Warcraft III and World of Warcraft also have both had "Battle Chests" released for them subsequent to their initial release. The "Battle.net" edition of Warcraft II was also the first to introduce the use of CD keys to the series, requiring each user online to have their own copy of the game in order to be able to connect. However, a CD key is not yet required to play via a Local Area Network, although speculation is that future games in the series will do so, as another product in Blizzard Entertainment's portfolio, StarCraft II, is doing so by removing the option for using LANs altogether, requiring the use of Battle.net.[10]

In 1998, an adventure game in the series, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, was announced as being cancelled, having been previously delayed from a 1997 release.

In 2004, Blizzard Entertainment moved the series away from the real-time strategy genre and released World of Warcraft, an MMORPG. Requiring a subscription fee to be paid to play, it also introduced regular additional content to the series in the form of patches. World of Warcraft quickly gained much popularity worldwide, becoming the world's largest subscription-based MMORPG. They reached a peak 12 million subscribers worldwide.[11] World of Warcraft has had six expansions as of 2016. During the production of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce stated that "If there’s a team that’s passionate about doing another WarCraft RTS, then that’s definitely something we would consider. It’s nothing that we’re working on right now, we have development teams working on Cataclysm, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Diablo III, and when those teams are all off the projects they’re working on, they’ll be intimately involved in the discussions about what’s next."

In 2013, Blizzard announced a new online free-to-play trading card game titled Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, with the beta being available in summer of 2013.[12] In March 2014, Hearthstone was officially released. In addition to the free-to-play basic gameplay Hearthstone also contains fee-based features like extra card packs, additional restricted matches against computer opponents.

Other media

Tabletop games

Collectible card games


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.




In 2009, Blizzard announced that it would be releasing a magazine with Future US Ltd. This magazine would only be purchasable by online subscription, and not for sale in newsagents or stores, thus making them collectors items. The magazine released quarterly, and each contained 148 pages. No advertisements were included in the magazine.[8] In September 2011, Blizzard announced that the magazine was ceasing publication. Refunds, plush toys or in-game pets were given to subscribers depending on the outstanding length of subscription.[17]

Film adaptation

Main article: Warcraft (film)

In a May 9, 2006 press release, Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures announced that they would develop a live-action film set in the Warcraft universe.[18] At BlizzCon 2008, according to Mike Morhaime, a script was being written.[19] Chris Metzen mentioned that the film would be action-packed and violent, stating "We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft."[20] On July 22, 2009, Blizzard Entertainment announced that Sam Raimi would become the Warcraft movie director, but in July 2012 he told Crave Online that he would not direct due to committing to the film Oz the Great and Powerful.[21]

In January 2013, Duncan Jones was announced to direct the adaptation,[22] from a script by Charles Leavitt.[23] The film was set to begin principal photography in early 2014 with a plot based on the novel Warcraft: The Last Guardian.[24] On July 20, 2013, Legendary Pictures & Warner Bros. Entertainment unveiled a sizzle reel during their San Diego Comic Con 2013 panel, with Duncan Jones hopping on stage briefly to discuss the project.[25]

On October 1, 2013, Blizzard announced via their World of Warcraft Twitter page that the Warcraft film would be released by Universal Pictures on December 18, 2015.[26] However, it was later announced that the release date was pushed back to summer of 2016 as to not compete with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[27]

During Blizzcon on November 9, 2013, Duncan revealed concept art for three of the locations to be featured in the film. He also verified that some of the casting had been completed, and a linguist was hired for some of the dialect work.

Production on the film started shooting on January 13, 2014.[28] The first full-length trailer for the film was released on November 6, 2015.[29]

Warcraft premiered in Los Angeles on June 6, 2016, and was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on June 10, 2016. Despite receiving mostly negative reviews from critics, the film has grossed $433 million.



Most of the Warcraft series takes place on the planet of Azeroth. Other planets in the Warcraft universe include: Draenor (and its shattered remnants, known as Outland), Argus, K'aresh, Mar'dun and Xoroth. There are also several metaphysical areas mentioned, including the Emerald Dream, the Elemental Planes, the Twisting Nether, and the Great Dark Beyond. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, the first game in the series, takes place in Azeroth.



Azeroth has five known continents, named the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Northrend, recently rediscovered Pandaria, and Broken Isles. All continents are separated by the Great Sea. Two major islands also reside in the Great Sea: Kezan, land of the Goblins, and Zandalar, birthplace of the Troll civilization. In the center of the Great Sea is an enormous, everlasting vortex called the "Maelstrom" beneath which lies the aquatic city of Nazjatar, home of the amphibious Naga. Near the Maelstrom are the Broken Isles.

The Eastern Kingdoms are the primary setting of the first two games (and their expansions) and the first half of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. It is made up of 22 areas or zones. The kingdom of Stormwind lies at the south of the Eastern Kingdoms, south of the dwarven kingdom of Khaz Modan and north of the jungle known as Stranglethorn Vale. The capital city of Stormwind, Stormwind City, is nestled into the northwest of Elwynn Forest, a large forest at the center of the kingdom. The Dwarven capital in Khaz Modan, called Ironforge, is located in Dun Morogh.

The former human kingdom of Lordaeron, which successfully headed the Human Alliance in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness but later fell to the Scourge in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, is located north from the southern kingdoms. Underneath the ruined city of Lordaeron now lies the Undercity, capital of the Forsaken, a rebel band of the undead Scourge. The area is now known as Tirisfal Glades and is threatened by the Western Plaguelands held back at The Bulwark. Northeast of Lordaeron is the elven nation of Quel'Thalas and its capital city, Silvermoon, both of which were conquered by the Scourge in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

The continent of Kalimdor was introduced in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and is made up of 18 zones. Whereas the Eastern Kingdoms can be described as the equivalent of medieval Europe, with traditional kingdoms and advanced cities, Kalimdor can be compared to the Americas at the time of the first arrivals of Europeans, full of wild lands. The geography and topography of Kalimdor are similar to North America and Africa, with massive, ancient forests and mountains covering the North and vast deserts and savannahs in the South. The Night Elven kingdom is located in the northwest region of Kalimdor, also including the island Teldrassil (actually a giant tree, similar in lore and spelling to Yggdrasil) off the northwest coast, which contains the city of Darnassus.

To the south, past the Ashenvale Forest, is a stretch of land known as The Barrens, situated between the grasslands of Mulgore to the west, and Durotar, the land settled by the Orcs, to the east. Mulgore is home to the Tauren capital of Thunder Bluff, a large city of tepees and lodges built on top of a conglomerate of high plateaus which are only accessible by air travel and a great series of lifts built down to the ground. In the north of Durotar is the fortress-city of Orgrimmar, capital of the Orcs.

The third continent, Northrend, is located in the northern polar region of Azeroth and is the primary stronghold of the malevolent Undead Scourge. Northrend is featured in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion set Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, and is the main location featured in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion pack to World of Warcraft.[4]

In the expansion World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Azeroth has been changed permanently in-game, even for players without the expansion set installed. The corrupted Black Dragon Aspect, Deathwing the Destroyer (formerly Neltharion, the Earth-Warder) has broken free from imprisonment in Deepholm, part of the Elemental Plane, and caused major changes and destruction in the land. In addition, many new parts of the continents of Azeroth that have previously been inaccessible have become key parts in the new world.

Lorewise, this is the second major change to the face of Azeroth, the first being the Sundering. The Sundering was caused as a result of the War of the Ancients where demons of the Burning Legion invaded the ancient Kalimdor. It caused a massive explosion that split the one continent into the four seen in-game and created the Maelstrom.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria was the fourth expansion released and it focuses on the mythical and long-forgotten lands of Pandaria, a continent far to the south that has until now been shrouded in magical mists. With both factions landing on Pandaria, adventurers rediscover the ancient Pandaren people, whose wisdom will help guide them to new destinies; the Pandaren Empire's ancient enemy, the Mantid; and their legendary oppressors, the enigmatic Mogu.

The storyline for Mists of Pandaria is split into multiple chapters. The story arc that introduces Pandaria—where players discover the continent and level up, helping to solve problems and figure out what happened for the past 10,000 years and why—was included entirely within the initial expansion release. Later chapters in the storyline brought the war between the Horde and the Alliance back into focus, including changing parts of Pandaria (via phasing) to show additional settlements, and eventually returning the players back to Kalimdor for a final showdown, dethroning Warchief Garrosh Hellscream.

World of Warcraft: Legion was the sixth expansion released and it focuses on the Broken Isles, a continent and group of islands located northeast of the Maelstrom in the middle of the Great Sea; one of the islands contains the Tomb of fallen Titan Sargeras. The Burning Legion has started an invasion of Azeroth and the player characters must find powerful artifacts to stop the invasion.

Draenor (Outland)

Draenor, which featured in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, is the original homeland of the Orcs and a past home of the Draenei.

Draenor was torn apart when the Orcish leader, Ner'Zhul (later the first Lich King) opened dozens of portals to other worlds in an attempt to escape the invading Alliance Armies from Azeroth. The sheer number and combined power of the portals ripped Draenor into fragments and cast the remainder into the mysterious parallel dimension called the Twisting Nether, Home of the Demons. The remnants of the world are now known as Outland, and feature in the last mission of the human campaign of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal (though, without any actual terrain changes), Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and more prominently in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.[4]

An intact Draenor is the main feature of the fifth World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which takes place 35 years earlier in an alternate timeline.

Major races and factions

Major characters



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