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What the Warcraft movie means for the game

Based on its initial reviews, Warcraft may not have successfully broken the stigma surrounding video game-based movies, but there's still plenty to like, especially for fans of the series. Replenish your mana and heal up, because we're going to explore what the successes of Warcraft could mean for the developers at Blizzard. You might need a rez, because there are hazardous spoilers ahead.

Increasing World of Warcraft subscriptions

It's no secret: World of Warcraft subscriptions just aren't what they used to be. We may never see the game's servers as packed as they were back when Wrath of the Lich King was its main expansion, but WoW remains the most financially successful subscription-based MMORPG. As you'd expect, the film caters to nostalgia for Warcraft I-III and World of Warcraft (which continues the story after WCIII). It's safe to say that moviegoers who used to play WoW will leave this film wanting to reactivate their accounts if they haven't done so already, especially with the Legion expansion on the horizon.

Returning to the Warcraft RTS series

The popularity of Blizzard's big MMORPG aside, the Warcraft series is a cornerstone of the real-time strategy genre. Blizzard put the Warcraft RTS series on the backburner due to the success of WoW. While the studio is fixing fans' RTS needs with StarCraft II and its multiple expansions, there are still millions of gamers demanding Warcraft IV. The problem is World of Warcraft and its subsequent add-ons regularly continue the story from Warcraft III and beyond, so it's kind of tough for Blizzard to pick a point in Azeroth history as a starting point for a potential Warcraft IV. The least they could do is make an HD remaster/remake of the original trilogy to satiate some of the masses' demands for a new Blizzard RTS game that doesn't involve the Zerg or Protoss.

New World of Warcraft content

Warcraft's theatrical release couldn't happen at a more opportune time for Blizzard. WoW's sixth expansion, Legion, is set to debut on August 30, 2016, and the movie is a perfect promotional opportunity. Better yet, Blizzard is giving away free copies of WoW and its first five expansions, along with various in-game items, to those who see the movie (hit the official website for more details). The Legion expansion will thematically bring things back to the era of the Burning Crusade, as iconic baddie Illidan Stormrage makes his triumphant return.

Revisiting the movie's characters in World of Warcraft

Obviously, the Warcraft film features most of the major events and famous faces of Azerothian lore from the first game. Some of the first war's most noteworthy names, such as Lothar, Medivh, King Llane, Durotan, Orgrim Doomhammer, Gul'dan, Draka, Warchief Blackhand, Grom Hellscream, and Moroes, are dead or long disappeared. After seeing these important characters on the silver screen, players are going to want to see more of them in WoW. Some of them you can see in the fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Based on WoW's previous expansions, we'll probably see some of these missing characters return or meet their descendants. The next expansion, Legion, will focus on Gul'dan's big comeback and the ramifications of him crossing over to Azeroth once again.

A movie sequel?

Based on the film's ending, things are pretty much set up for the plot of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, except the Orcish Horde didn't really end up winning. In the game, the humans were supposed to have fled to the kingdom of Lordaeron across the sea and form the Alliance with the other noble races of the world. The sequel results in the Orcs ultimately losing (due to civil war) and being pushed back to the Dark Portal, with the Alliance heading through the breach, ultimately sealing/destroying the rift from Draenor's side. Likewise, the Moses-esque recovery of baby Thrall during the film's final scene sets up the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and the character's leadership of the Horde afterwards.

In the global box office, Warcraft is making a killing—the movie's debut in China shattered previous box office records and the numbers are still soaring. While the film staggers in the North American market, this foreign success is probably more than enough to secure a green light for a sequel—and could also help open the door for movies based on Blizzard's other big IPs, such as Diablo and StarCraft (fingers crossed).