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The Biggest Story of E3

For my money, the most notable news coming out of E3 wasn't the trailer for Halo 3, which is stunning, or Sony's Ken Kutaragi saying that $599 is "too cheap" for the PlayStation 3, or Nintendo's Wii controller. Technically speaking, the most notable news wasn't even news from E3, but rather the coverage of news from E3. From an article in The New York Times:

Online Game Galaxy Gets a New Race of Characters

LOS ANGELES, May 10 -- Ever since last year, when the makers of World of Warcraft, one of the world's most successful video games, announced that they would release a major retail expansion in late 2006, the game's millions of players have eagerly awaited additional details about what lay in store.

As the video game industry convened here on Wednesday for E3, the top annual game convention, those players started getting answers. In the biggest piece of news, Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind the game, announced that the expansion, called the Burning Crusade, included the introduction of an otherworldly species called the Draenei. The Draenei are the new playable race for the Warcraft group called the Alliance.

Much of the story line in World of Warcraft, which now has more than 6 million paying subscribers worldwide, revolves around the strife between two competing factions, the Alliance and the Horde. Players can join either side of the fantasy conflict; the Alliance includes races like humans, dwarves and gnomes, while the Horde includes orcs, trolls and the undead.

Blizzard announced last year that in the expansion the Horde would receive a new playable race called the Blood Elves, but until Wednesday the identity of the new Alliance race had been a secret. On Web message boards players had spilled hundreds of thousands of words debating what the new Alliance race would be.

The story goes on for another five paragraphs.

In other words, America's paper of record ran a full-length article, listed in their main RSS feed, not on a new game, but on the unveiling of a new character type within an existing game. Partly this is the growing importance of computer and video games, but mostly, I think, it's the fact that World of Warcraft is now more than a half a billion dollar business -- 4.5 million players (excluding China) at a minimum of $12.99 per month equals over $700 million per year.

Also, to see The New York Times publish a story with lines like...

Players can join either side of the fantasy conflict; the Alliance includes races like humans, dwarves and gnomes, while the Horde includes orcs, trolls and the undead.
...is a treat I won't soon forget.

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Comments

Oh neato. I've got to catch up on your blog when I can come up for air soon...

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