Will World of Warcraft ever come to Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch? Blizzard gives us an update.

World Of Warcraft Classic Lich King Key Art
World Of Warcraft Classic Lich King Key Art (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

World of Warcraft remains one of the world's most popular MMORPGs, and retains a steady player base despite declining from its historical peaks. 

Blizzard released a duo of relatively unpopular expansions in Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands, although the firm has pulled the game from the brink with WoW: Classic and the recent retail expansion, Dragonflight

Still, World of Warcraft struggles to attract new players. The new-player experience in World of Warcraft is nowhere near as immersive as it used to be, back when each race had its own starting area and progression through a truly massive world. Now, players simply start in the latest expansion in a small continent designed for endgame players, and don't get the opportunity to learn about the world of Azeroth or their race/class fantasy. 

That may change in the future, though. World of Warcraft developers revealed not one, but three upcoming World of Warcraft expansions, including The War Within, Midnight, and The Last Titan. Blizzard is orienting around more of a "Saga" structure, where the story is planned out years in advance by returning co-founder Chris Metzen and the writing team.

Another way Blizzard could look to attract new players is by bringing the game to console, would it actually happen, though? New interviews coming out of Blizzcon 2023 suggest the possibility is rising. 

The latest info: Will World of Warcraft come to consoles?

World Of Warcraft Blood Trolls New

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Blizzard has thus far shown little interest in bringing WoW to consoles, although native support for Xbox controllers and the Xbox adaptive controller is currently being developed. There are UI mods that allow users to use gamepads on World of Warcraft too, and they have proven popular with PC gaming handhelds like the ASUS ROG Ally and the Steam Deck. Despite rumors, Blizzard has generally shot down the idea of an Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5 console port of World of Warcraft

In an interview from 2022, World of Warcraft creative director Ion Hazzikostas downplayed the possibility of a World of Warcraft port for consoles. Hazzikostas said that, essentially, the game is built specifically for PC.

"Nah, I think World of Warcraft is a game designed from the ground up for the PC. I think we've just been looking at the ways in which add-ons have at times felt increasingly required, or like the first thing you do when someone comes to the game for the first time is tell them, 'Hey, go download this add-on pack and move this stuff around,' and we want to do better for our players."

However, a new interview from Blizzcon 2023 in GamesRadar has certainly raised the possibility. 

Speaking to World of Warcraft's Holly Longdale, it was revealed that, indeed, Blizzard is still discussing a console port for World of Warcraft, although nothing concrete has been locked down. "It's a complicated question. And to your earlier point, for a console audience, the approachability is likely going to be different." Longdale continued, "Right now, we're focused on the Worldsoul Saga. But if [doing a console port] comes up then we'll reexamine things but, man, we've got enough to deal with right now. We've got these three expansions, and we are so excited about them. But, yeah, of course. It would be very insincere to say that we're not — of course, we're talking about that. We are Microsoft now."

The fact Blizzard is now part of Xbox as a result of Microsoft's huge $70 billion acquisition should definitely raise the possibility of a console port emerging for World of Warcraft. It would give the game access to a new generation of players, but the execution would have to be flawless. World of Warcraft is designed from the ground up not only for mouse and keyboard gameplay, but also mouse and keyboard social interaction. Typing on a gamepad is a miserable experience, although you can use keyboards on your Xbox console, most people simply don't. 

Would WoW on console even work?

Source: MunkDev | CurseForge (Image credit: Source: MunkDev | CurseForge)

World of Warcraft relies heavily on add-ons for its user interface, with boss mechanic warnings, damage meters, and other features coming in from the side by fully authorized mods. With World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Blizzard actually revamped the base UI, bringing it in-line with many popular addons, allowing players to fully reconfigure the position of every UI element for the first time. However, it still relies heavily on a mouse and keyboard. 

Blizzard has not been shy about the fact that it designs its boss encounters around popular visual aids like Deadly Boss Mods, which give players large warnings or positional aids for overcoming WoW's notoriously complex boss encounters. Since Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and other console platforms are closed off to file access generally, I'm not sure how addons for console would work without significant investment in a dedicated platform. Even on PC, Blizzard doesn't deliver these addons. It designates a folder you can drop UI addons into, but generally, players use CurseForge to find and install addons. WoW would need some kind of in-game interface for addons similar to the ones you see in games like Fallout 4 and Bethesda's Creation Club. And that's only one of the problems. 

World of Warcraft is designed heavily for WASD movement controls and mouse turning and strafing. The game would have to be heavily reconfigured. It would need altered difficulty to accommodate console players, perhaps going as far as to give those players their own separate servers and difficulty settings. Furthermore, some classes in World of Warcraft need a large variety of inputs to fully play their classes. I use heaps of keybinds on my demonology warlock, and it's really hard to imagine how I would perform my damage rotation and reach for my reactive skills with a gamepad, although I'm sure it's not impossible. The Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 and even other standard Xbox controllers now allow for full key remapping, complete with binding keyboard keys in supported games. With the Elite Controller's extra four paddles, and a modifying shift key, I reckon it would be possible — but how many console players are going to adapt their controllers to accommodate this? 

Some PC players are already doing it, though. The aptly named ConsolePort add-on for WoW gives you an FFXIV-like interface, assigning different buttons to different abilities, while giving you joystick control over your character. I can see some classes working well with a gamepad, but I absolutely cannot imagine how a healer would play with a controller optimally in high-end content. I doubt it's impossible with lots of configurations, but I also doubt this extra effort would appeal to the average console gamer. 

Never say never

World Warcraft Moth Fly Shadowlands

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer was on stage at Blizzcon 2023, noting his intent to "empower" Blizzard. I for sure reckon the Xbox team would love every Blizzard game to come to console, much like Xbox has ported traditional PC games like Age of Empires to console too. Still, it's hard to envision these types of games, designed for mouse and keyboard, being popular on console. There are great wireless lappable keyboards for Xbox like the Razer Turret, but I can't imagine most people would want to buy one specifically for one game. But who knows?

World of Warcraft doesn't enjoy the dominance it once had, but it remains wildly popular with a dedicated and passionate player base. There has to be potential within the Azeroth universe for it to grow and find a new audience again. I felt desperately old listening to Chris Metzen at Blizzcon 2023 joke about how players who started WoW in their teens may eventually be playing WoW with their grandkids. But why not? Few games have proven to be as generation-defying as World of Warcraft, moving the game to new paradigms like Xbox and PlayStation gaming could move the needle. But only if they absolutely do it properly. World of Warcraft is already a bad experience for new players, a bad console port would only make matters worse. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!