With the recent closure of the Nostalrius private server by Blizzard, the World of Warcraft community has been in a heated debate over the idea of legacy servers. Nostalrius hosted a classic “vanilla” version of World of Warcraft, before any of the expansions, and boasted roughly 800,000 accounts.
A problem for all MMOs, as expansions launch and changes are made, the older versions become inaccessible. To rectify the problem, many fans have been calling for legacy servers, specific servers meant to save and maintain the older versions of games.
Posting on the World of Warcaft’s official forums, executive producer J. Allen Brack opened up about Blizzards position on the increasingly touchy argument. “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,” he says.
“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.”
Blizzard was unable to allow the Nostalrius server from continuing due to legal reasons, including the need to protect the WoW IP and not set a new, dangerous precedent. “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.”
As for Blizzard doing it themselves, “We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty,” Brack explains. “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.”
But there might be a compromise in the form of what Blizzard is calling “pristine realms.” These realms 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. While not exactly the same thing, it is a step towards what some fans are asking for. “
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,” Brack says.
When it comes to anything more than that however, things are still up in the air. “We’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius,” Brack says. “They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.”
Part of the same debate, RuneScape recently launched an update overhauling the game’s graphics. Along side the new version however, developer Jagex is supporting a legacy server of the old version.
As we learn more about World of Warcraft’s plans for the future, including the upcoming August expansion Legion, you’ll find it all right here on Gamespresso.