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Blizzard held the largest of its four major launch events for The Burning Crusade at the Fry's Electronics in Fountain Valley, California. Blizzard executives and employees were on hand to greet the horde of World of Warcraft players who endured the bitter cold for a shot at snagging a copy of the first WoW expansion. From what we gathered, there were thousands of copies of the game to be distributed, although collector's edition copies of the game were in high-demand. The line snaked around the entire building, with gamers passing the time until midnight by any means possible.
A few interesting stories were told to us by the gamers in attendance. There were no less than two separate occasions where a female had to be escorted away by police for physically assaulting a male. In the first case, an irate girlfriend dressed in what was described as "gypsy-goth" clothing laid down an ultimatum for her hopelessly addicted boyfriend: "It's the game, or me!" He made the wrong choice, at which point she began showing him that fist weapons aren't necessarily restricted to rogues in the game. Luckily, a U.S. Marine Corps soldier named Tyler who moonlights as Rollingrocks on the Lightninghoof server was on hand to break up the altercation.
Later in the day, another fight broke out when a man and a woman cut in line ahead of several people who had been camped out for hours. One gamer in line had none of this, and reported the line-cutters to Fry's staff. They were then escorted out of the line and asked to leave the premises. Not one to bear such a move lightly, the woman who was asked to leave followed the man who reported her to his car, where she began physically assaulting him in what was described as "pure pwnage." She was hauled off by police in a squad car, but not before giving the gathered crowd a one-finger salute.
Despite the isolated instances of violence breaking out, there was a generally cheerful feeling amongst the people in line, even considering their prolonged exposure to the cold weather. The first person in line, John Fitch, proudly bore a sign telling the world that he and his companions at the front were Decay, from the newly formed Rivendare server, and they were quite proud of being the first in line to pick up The Burning Crusade. They are looking forward to venturing into the Outland, and jokingly stated that they "never want to see Azeroth again."
A shivering Eric Fritz from Iowa traveled to California for business meetings but couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet Blizzard and pick up a copy before catching a flight back home. As he downed his hot chocolate, Mr. Fritz told us about how his Warrior Ravinia and the rest of his guild Hank would be storming Hellfire Citadel as soon as possible. Everyone in line had a similar story, all willing to brave the elements to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event. One man, who was smiling and cracking jokes in spite of having been in line for an entire day was determined to look on the bright side of things. "Hey, it's no big deal. This coat has at least 30 frost resistance." The mood was also lightened by a woman in a fabulous Tauren costume, complete with Silverwing Sentinels flag. Die-hard Warsong Gulch players especially appreciated the accessory.
World of Warcraft players worldwide have now had a chance to bring home their copy of the game, and for the most part, people are already neck-deep in the new content. Some players are experiencing installation issues, even requiring a reinstallation of the original game. We'll be reporting to you regularly regarding all things The Burning Crusade, so check back regularly for more information.