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World of Warcraft expansion breaks sales records

Massively multiplayer online game "World of Warcraft" has once again given new meaning to the word "massive."

The game's third expansion — "World of Warcraft: Cataclysm" — sold a record breaking 3.3 million copies in the first 24 hours it was available, according to the developers at Blizzard. That makes it the fastest-selling PC game of all time.

More than 12 million people play "World of Warcraft," an online role-playing game. 'Cataclysm' was simultaneously released in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on December 7.

The "Cataclysm" expansion brought big changes to the game — changes that affect the way the online game world looks and the way the game is played. In the "WoW" story, these changes were caused by a dragon known as Deathwing the Destroyer who tore apart the landscape.

"We had to bring Azeroth to the brink of destruction in 'Cataclysm,' but the result was our best expansion yet," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We want to thank all of our new, existing, and returning players throughout the world for their incredible enthusiasm and support, and we look forward to hearing what they think about all the new content."

This milestone eclipses the previous record set by Blizzard's second "World of Warcraft" expansion. 'Wrath of the Lich King' sold more than 2.8 million copies in 24 hours when it was released in November 2008.

But while 'Cataclysm' may be the fastest-selling PC game, it did not topple the record for fastest-selling video game overall. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" — launched just last month — still holds that title. The first-person shooter for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC sold 5.5 million copies in its first 24 hours on sale.

One thing to keep in mind, however: 'Cataclysm' is available only on PC/Mac, while "Call of Duty" shipped on home consoles as well as computers.

Meanwhile, both games were delivered by Activision Blizzard — so we know one game company that's having a very merry holiday season indeed.

For more on this topic, check out:
12 million nerds cheer as 'Cataclysm' strikes 'World of Warcraft'
'Star Wars' vs. 'World of Warcraft' — wait for it!
'WoW' superfan rewarded with his own 'WoW' character

Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things right here on Twitter.