Blizzard might be one of those mega-publishers that is still quite well liked among gamers, but it recently received a lot of flak for shutting down the Nostalrius fan-run server, which offered a vanilla version of World of Warcraft for players to enjoy. To try and assuage that, it’s now reached out to the community to explain itself: In essence, it felt the need to protect its intellectual property.
This is because Nostalrius, for all of its fan-run amateurism, was incredibly popular. At its peak, it had over 800,000 registered accounts, and 150,000 of those logged in on a monthly basis.
Obviously those numbers aren’t a threat to the current retail version of WoW, but is it just the case that Blizzard wants those 150,000 players to be paying customers? Playing on Nostalrius didn’t send any money into Blizzard’s bursting pockets, so was it just being greedy?
Of course that sort of thinking factors into the equation, but the real problem stems from Blizzard needing to protect its IP. In the world of intellectual property law, if you don’t defend your property in one instance, that can be used against you in a court case with another.
While Blizzard did admit that part of its internal discussion had involved keeping Nostalrius open, it eventually decided that there was no way to maintain it without impacting its right with regards to its own IP, and that could harm the game as a whole in the future.
The other request from the community in the wake of the Nostalrius shut down, was that Blizzard simply open its own classic WoW server. While this too had been discussed internally, we’re told, it is considered to big a task to maintain the server to a commercial standard.
It was one thing to play on a fan server with bugs and problems, but if you are paying a company for an experience, you expect it to be far more polished.
Older versions of WoW also ran on much older hardware and were designed to, because of the time they were released. That means compatibility with modern systems might be shaky or people running certain hardware and software combinations may be left out. It’s possible even that Blizzard doesn’t have the very legacy code it would require to make this process at least moderately smooth.
The one glimmer of hope for those wanting a classic experience — other than to jump to another legacy server with its own risk of being shut down — is that Blizzard has discussed the idea of “Pristine servers.” These would operate without some of the more recent additions to the game, including heirloom gear, character boosts, recruit-a-friend bonuses, WoW tokens, and access to cross-realm zones. Power leveling and other boosts would also be disabled, though the content within the game would be largely the same as the latest updated servers.