Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has already been discussed at length when it comes to video games having very tangible, lasting effects on the real world that produced them. World of Warcraft guild leaders have become advice gurus for those in need, while players have developed lasting, healthy relationships with others they met inside the game. One constant in World of Warcraft, however, has become even more important this year – the annual charity pet, released by Blizzard at Blizzcon to support charities like Make-A-Wish.

Given the recent natural disasters around the world, however, Blizzard decided to accelerate its plans for its annual charity pet and release it ahead of Blizzcon. The new pet, Shadow the Fox, is an adorable companion that can shift between Shadow and Light, and all proceeds raised by its $10 USD adoption fee will be donated to both the American Red Cross Disaster Relief and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Fund.

The donations will be split equally, and will be used to help people affected by disasters within the United States and abroad. Sometimes, World of Warcraft makes improvements beyond its in-game content, and this is no exception – Blizzard is looking to improve the lives of those hurt in recent natural disasters, and players who weren’t sure about what they could do for those affected now have an outlet that is tied to one of their favourite pastimes.

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Blizzard’s traditional charity pet reveal at Blizzcon will certainly be missed, but in the context of recent global events, Blizzard’s decision to extend the annual donation drive and start it early is a smart – and kind – move. World of Warcraft players will have nearly four full months to donate the money required for Shadow the Fox, and given the extremely positive early response, it looks like World of Warcraft will once again be affecting the real world, this time in one of the best ways possible.