For most gamers, there’s nothing like getting lost in a rich interactive fantasy world. That’s certainly one of the biggest reasons why I play games. What makes these places so memorable—beyond the daring feats that players like myself perform as their characters—are the iconic locales and buildings that comprise them and give them their personality. We recently evaluated one such place, Hyrule Castle from “The Legend of Zelda”.
So, when it came time to decide on our next fictional evaluation, I already had video game castles on my mind. When it comes to those, there are few as iconic as Stormwind Castle—aka Stormwind Keep—from “World of Warcraft”.
This piece of virtual property has been a regular sight for players of Blizzard’s blockbuster MMO (massively multiplayer online game) since “World of Warcraft” was released nearly 10 years ago in November of 2004. Towering over the human kingdom of Stormwind in Elwynn Forest, it’s served as a place where adventurers take on epic quests (“Penny’s Pumpkin Pancakes” anyone?), players meet in the game, and more than a few virtual weddings are held. So, its high walls and even higher towers were an easy choice as far as iconic gaming properties go.
So, how much is it worth? Were it a real property, the cost of taking up residence in Stormwind Keep would be $10,392,742—a pittance, really, compared to some of the other fictional castles my guild and I have evaluated here at Movoto. Why so cheap? Well, there’s a story in that, as well as how I came up with that price tag. If you’d like to hear how my grind for knowledge went, then join my raiding party and keep reading, fellow adventurer.
How I Did It (or How I Wish There Was a Gold Farmer For This)
If you’ve already checked out some of our other evaluations of “unreal estate” here on the Movoto Blog, you’ve probably read about our methodology before. If not, it’s high time you learned how we work our magic.
The case of Stormwind Castle is similar to others we’ve done; in order to put a price on it, I had to determine:
- The size of Stormwind Castle
- Where it would be located in the real world
- The cost per square foot for similar real estate in that location
The process of determining the size of things that don’t exist here in the boring real world is always fun, so let’s start there.
Sizing Up King Varian Wrynn’s Seat of Power
For those not familiar with “World of Warcraft” (there have to be a couple of you), a little background is in order. Stormwind is the only remaining human kingdom in the game, located in Azeroth, one of the three continents that form the Eastern Kingdoms. Stormwind Castle (or Keep) is part of the capital, Stormwind City.
Stormwind Keep has taken a couple of forms in the game. There was its original appearance, introduced in 2004, and a renovation that occurred as part of the Cataclysm expansion that was released on December 7, 2010. For my evaluation, I went with that most recent incarnation, which is situated in a Stormwind City transformed by devastation (gee, thanks, Deathwing!) and the passage of time.
In order to determine the castle’s size, I first turned to images of it snapped from various angles—including overhead—by players of the game. These were good for getting a look at it from all sides and poring over small details. They weren’t good for actually determining scale, however.
To do that, I had to… play the game. For work. I have a tough job, I know.
In the game, I traveled to Stormwind City as my male human hunter, a fairly average-sized character in the grand scheme of the dramatically proportioned universe of “World of Warcraft.” Once in the castle itself, I was able to stand in front of various elements and take screenshots, which I then used to determine scale by comparing my character’s shoulders to a point of reference—in this case, a square stone slab. Like in our Hyrule Castle evaluation, I was able to take the average 21-inch shoulder width of a sticky fellow like my character and use it to figure out the dimensions of the slab.
After that, I used an overhead screenshot of the castle with a grid overlaid onto it to carefully measure the length and width of each room.
Before we continue, I have to address something I found pretty surprising: There’s not a lot going on inside Stormwind Castle. In fact, the whole place only has a courtyard, main hallway, petitioner’s chamber, throne room, war room, garden, and library. Despite being tall, it’s also only one story (at least that players can access or has actually been modeled in the game world). This means it’s almost like a giant-scale stone bounce house; a debuffed castle, if you will.
Given that, the total floorspace of Stormwind Castle is a “mere” 47,219 square feet (about half the size of Princess Zelda’s abode). But where is it? Let’s tackle that next.
Putting Azeroth on the Map
What’s just as fun as figuring out the size of buildings that don’t exist in our reality? Getting to find where they’d be located in our world. Sometimes, games, books, and movies are set in real locations. With “World of Warcraft,” that’s not the case. But its world and architecture do share some similarities with ours, which definitely helps virtual real estate evaluators like yours truly.
To place Stormwind—and, most importantly, its castle—on a map of the real world, I needed to find a place on Earth that I felt matched well in terms of geography and architecture.
Using the castle’s Western European inspired architecture as a starting point, I zeroed in on the United Kingdom straight away. I saw plenty of similar castles during my research, but looks were only part of the equation. I realized that I needed to find a castle that was bordered on one side by a river like Stormwind and was also near forests and hills or mountains. Something on the Western coast of an island, as Stormwind is on the continent of Azeroth, would also be very befitting. Eventually I found one castle that met all of my criteria in Wales, the “castle capital of the world.” The fortress in question is called Caernarfon Castle and it located in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, Wales, on the Western coast of Great Britain.
So, with a place narrowed down, I just had to find some comparable properties to get my price.
Placing a Price on a CastleI wasn’t lucky enough to find a castle for sale in Caernarfon to determine a price per square foot, so I had to use the next best thing: homes. After all, people call them their castles, right? Well, after getting the sale prices of a few and using math to determine an average price per square foot, I was reminded that we’d already evaluated a fictional castle in Wales: Howl’s Moving Castle.
As it turned out, my estimate of $218 per square foot was pretty close to what our in-house novelty real estate guru David Cross had found for his piece ($203 per square foot). Pretty impressive, considering we’d used totally different homes to reach our numbers.
Speaking of numbers, all I had to do now was some more math.
Adding It All Up
All of the necessary info in hand (or on-screen at least), I was ready to work some mathematical magic to down this boss of a problem. By casting a powerful multiplication spell using the elements of size and price per square foot, my 47,219 sqft castle in a land where homes cost $218 per square foot was transmogrified into a piece of property costing $10,293,472.
Like I said above, that doesn’t seem like much for a castle, but for all its perceived majesty Stormwind Castle amounts to what is basically a giant stone playhouse (c’mon guys, even the Ruins of Lordaeron is bigger than your mighty castle). It’s just made more convincing by the surrounding world that Blizzard has managed to forge for “World of Warcraft.”
Oh, speaking of the game, I figured that since you can’t actually buy Stormwind Castle, I’d come up with something related that the $10 million plus value I ended up with could buy. That something is a whole lot of monthly subscriptions to “WoW”—enough for one month of play for 686,707 people—or one very, very long 66,036 year subscription for one person. That’s barring price increases and any eventual game expansions, of course. Or, you could buy in-game gold through various sources; 7.6 billion pieces at the going rate.