In preparation for the upcoming retail launch of World of Warcraft, we will be taking the North American open beta servers offline on Thursday, November 18. While this will mark the end of the open beta test, there will still be some work left for us to do. To provide the best experience possible at launch, we will be making numerous final optimizations to our hardware based on the data we've acquired during the open beta test.
During our closed and open beta test phases, thousands of improvements were made to World of Warcraft. Those changes were made through game-client patches and updates to the game's server and database infrastructure.
As we moved closer to retail, we continued to make changes and optimize all of the code that makes up World of Warcraft until we reached the point where we felt we could create a gold master -- the version of the game that's currently being pressed onto the discs which will be available for purchase at retail.
Likewise, these processes must also take place on the server side to ensure that no out-of-date code, which could corrupt the retail version of the game, still exists. Before the retail version of the code can be installed, the current hardware must be wiped clean. This also includes the information on current accounts and characters that are being played on our test servers. So that all World of Warcraft players will be able to make a fresh start on our community site at launch, the same procedure will be taking place for the North American beta forums when the open beta test ends.
We realize that you've grown attached to your characters, and we're sorry that the end of the open beta test will require you to part ways with them. However, with the retail launch of World of Warcraft on November 23 comes the opportunity to begin a new adventure in Azeroth on fresh, untouched servers. Along with that, you'll have the knowledge that you played an instrumental role in the creation of a game of epic proportions that players will enjoy for many years to come.
We greatly appreciate all the time you've spent with us testing World of Warcraft, and we look forward to seeing you in-game!
Please note that this does not affect the ongoing European closed beta test. Further details regarding our plans for the closed and final beta tests in Europe will be announced on the European community sites next week.