On the eve of World of Warcraft's sixth anniversary, Blizzard Entertainment announced plans for a series of real-world launch events leading up to the midnight launch of the game's Cataclysm expansion on December 7.

The November 22 announcement included London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Rotterdam and Stockholm in the initial batch of host cities.

Each welcomes two Blizzard staff members as part of a fan meet and greet, with further details on costume contests and competition prizes to follow.

In the US, California's Fountain Valley has Blizzard's own in-house band with a dance contest and a staff presence to be announced in the near future.

Canada's largest city, Toronto, is also hosting one of the official celebrations, while Taipei in Taiwan welcomes the company CEO as a launch event guest.

World of Warcraft was first released in 2004 and has since benefited from two significant expansions. Its dominance of the subscription-based gaming market has meant that many other competitors seek success on a free-to-play or a one-time fee basis instead.

Guild Wars and the upcoming Guild Wars 2 levy no further fees after the initial game purchase, while Lord of the Rings Online recently became entirely free-to-play, mimicking South Korean success MapleStory by offering optional extras through an online shop. Both Champions Online and APB will be doing the same in 2011.

For more information about stores and cities taking part in the Cataclysm launch, check blizzard.com.