In its opening ceremony for the publisher's annual BlizzCon expo, Blizzard Entertainment announced that consumers who pre-order digital copies of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
can pre-load it in advance and play the expansion moments after its release.
is scheduled to sell at shops and online for $40 starting December 7th (with a retail Collector's Edition priced at $80).
Gamers who reserve it at Blizzard's online store will be able to download and pre-load the expansion ahead of time to have it ready to play at midnight on the release day.
This will be the third expansion for the six-year old PC MMORPG, and it's expected to further boost World of Warcraft's subscription numbers
above its already high count of 12 million gamers. The series' releases have consistently become the bestselling PC games during their launch years.
Blizzard also revealed details for its other titles at the keynote, including four new StarCraft II
map-types -- Auir Chef, Left 2 Die, StarJeweled, and Blizzard DotA -- that it will release for free through Battle.net in the coming months, according to a report
from consumer site Kotaku.
Discussing Diablo III
, the company revealed that the upcoming action-RPG will feature ranked player vs. player arenas for teams, and introduced the game's fifth and final class, the Demon Hunter (previously revealed classes include the Barbarian, the Witch Doctor, the Wizard, and the Monk).