Nearly three weeks ago, news broke that Blizzard had sued the largest World of Warcraft private server, Nostalrius. Unexpectedly, the internet blew up, and now that the dust has settled, Blizzard themselves have weighed in on the subject.
By means of a forum post, World of Warcraft community manager, Nethaera, relayed what the World of Warcraft executive producer, J. Allen Brack, had to say:
We wanted to let you know that we’ve been closely following the Nostalrius discussion and we appreciate your constructive thoughts and suggestions.
Our silence on this subject definitely doesn’t reflect our level of engagement and passion around this topic. We hear you. Many of us across Blizzard and the WoW Dev team have been passionate players ever since classic WoW. In fact, I personally work at Blizzard because of my love for classic WoW.
We have been discussing classic servers for years – it’s a topic every BlizzCon – and especially over the past few weeks. From active internal team discussions to after-hours meetings with leadership, this subject has been highly debated. Some of our current thoughts:
Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And while we’ve looked into the possibility – there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard’s IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server.
We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW.
So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a “pristine realm”. In essence that would turn off all leveling acceleration including character transfers, heirloom gear, character boosts, Recruit-A-Friend bonuses, WoW Token, and access to cross realm zones, as well as group finder. We aren’t sure whether this version of a clean slate is something that would appeal to the community and it’s still an open topic of discussion.
One other note – we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.
You, the Blizzard community, are the most dedicated, passionate players out there. We thank you for your constructive thoughts and suggestions. We are listening.
J. Allen Brack
Boy howdy, that’s quite the statement. It clarifies what a lot of us have known for a while now: A) vanilla servers aren’t just a simple flip of the switch, and would require quite a bit of engineering to get working. And B) IP laws are unpleasant, to say the least, and in a way Blizzard were forced to act. I’m sure if there wasn’t the risk of someone taking advantage of their IPs, Blizzard would be willing to let these vanilla servers run amok.
What’s interesting, though, is the idea of pristine servers. Of course they’re, at best, a compromise, and would bring the current game as close to the vanilla feeling as possible without them running version 1.12 of the game. It’s an interesting idea, no doubt, and they might be a fun environment to level an alt, but the people who are gunning for vanilla servers are interested in the full experience, and not this compromise. So pristine servers wouldn’t really solve the issue fully.
Blizzard’s also been in talks with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. I have no idea what these talks might entail, but in a perfect world, they’d be trying to hire the guys to come work for Blizzard to handle the vanilla servers themselves.
Blizzard is definitely listening to people; that much is obvious. It’s also obvious that the longer WoW exists, the more interest there will be in vanilla servers. It seems pretty likely – especially after this controversy – that they’re going to happen eventually. It’s just a matter of time.
Gotta hand it to Blizzard, though. I think they said all really needed to say.
Props to them.