considering digital distribution for World of Warcraft expansions ever since the first one, but it wasn't until this past weekend at BlizzCon that it was finally announced that the latest expansion, Cataclysm, will be available to buy on Blizzard's website, and playable right as the servers are turned on. Blizzard's Rob Pardo says the company's been moving in that direction for a while, and that "the day's coming" when Blizzard will release all of its PC games day-and-date with their retail versions. "Once we get a little closer to Diablo 3 we'll make a determination," he promised.
Meanwhile, the WoW community, as a group of people who already play MMOs online, is ready for the transition, says Pardo. "They are already able to handle very large pieces of data," he says, "so we felt that this is the best thing for the community, the opportunity to download and pre-order the game before we launch." It will be nice to have the game installed and ready to play as the servers go up -- even if they do drop right back down from all the players trying to use them.