When software has been supported and maintained for almost ten years, like World of Warcraft, it is not clear whether the worst compatible machine at launch should remain supported or whether the requirements should increase over time. For instance, when Windows XP launched, the OS was tuned for 128MB of RAM. Later updates made it be highly uncomfortable with anything less than a whole gigabyte. For games though, we mostly pretend that they represent the time that they were released.
That mental model does not apply to World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. While technically this is an expansion pack, its requirements jumped again (significantly if compared to the original release). Even the first expansion pack, Burning Crusade, was able to run on a GeForce 2. Those cards were bundled with the original Unreal Tournament, which was a relatively new game at the time that the GeForce 2 was released.
Now? Well the minimum is:
- Windows XP or later.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750
- NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, AMD Radeon HD 4850), or Intel HD Graphics 3000.
- 2GB of RAM
- 35GB HDD
And the recommended is:
- Windows 7 or 8 (x86-64)
- Intel Core i5 2400 or AMD FX-4100
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 or AMD Radeon HD 5870
- 4GB of RAM
- 35GB HDD
World of Warcraft, and other MMORPGs, might get a pass on this issue. With its subscription model, there is not really an expectation that a user can go back and see the game in the same state as it launched. It is not a work, but a service — and that does not devalue its artistic merits. It just is not really the same game now that it was then.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor will launch on November 13th.