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‘World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ release date, gameplay: Next expansion to arrive earlier than anticipated; Beta opens in mid-July

From the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands cinematic trailer | Photo credit: Blizzard Entertainment via World of Warcraft / YouTube screenshot

Video game companies, for much of the first half of 2020, learned to adjust to new workplace setups due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Even then, Blizzard Entertainment assures fans that “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” is still on track for a 2020 release, as the company first promised last year at BlizzCon.

In this week’s highly anticipated “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” livestream event, Blizzard reiterated its release date promise. The even better news is fans do not have to wait through the end of the year to see the next expansion go live.

‘World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ release date set in fall, beta opens next week

Earlier this year, Blizzard updated the “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” pre-purchase page and added a placeholder release date of Dec. 31. This is a common practice on the developer’s part, especially when it already announced a release window for a particular game.

That information is changing for the better, though, as developers promise the expansion will be ready by fall. It could still happen within the last quarter of the year, but it is a better situation than having to wait at the very end of 2020 for “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.”

Another good indication that the development of “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” is going well and on schedule is the confirmed opening of beta testing next week. The information was also confirmed on the livestream event Wednesday. Note that not everyone who buys the expansion will have access to the beta, at least, not at its early phase. To get a chance to join the beta, players can enroll to Blizzard’s beta program through their account.

Devs recognize reason for delaying ‘World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ livestream update

The “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” livestream preview was originally scheduled in early June. But Blizzard, like other video game companies, decided to push the event to a later date for one very meaningful reason. From late May to early June was the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and other parts of the world. The worldwide outrage follows the death of George Floyd while being arrested by Minnesota police officers.

Blizzard recognized the importance of its decision to delay the “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands” event and brought up the subject before the Wednesday event concluded. "We'd originally planned on doing this stream a month ago a ... but we postponed it then to avoid distracting from a more important conversation,” game director Ion Hazzikostas said. “Black lives mattered a month ago, Black lives matter today, and if that phrase is difficult to hear, know that I and others who speak those words aren't saying that your life has any less worth, we're only calling attention to the ways in which our societies seem to need a reminder that Black lives matter.

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