The fine folks at WoW Insider have discovered (via an anonymous source) that the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King, is now in the alpha stage of testing. Alpha testing is generally done prior to 'feature set' status. This means that the folks at Blizzard have the framework of what they'll be offering in their final product, but whole concepts and systems might be put in or pulled out over the Alpha stage. Traditionally game companies use the next stage, Beta, to polish those 'set' features and get the game ready for release.

In the past Blizzard has done all of this work in the Alpha phase, leaving the game 'behind closed doors' for a very lengthy period of time. The months-long Beta for World of Warcraft, and the very public Beta test for the Burning Crusade expansion, were more public relations/expectation-setting events than anything else. Assuming they follow this path with Lich King, we can expect not to hear much from the Alpha test for some time. Either way, WoW Insider and the Massively team will keep you appraised as we hear news.

This article was originally published on Massively.