Earlier this month, Blizzard shut down a pirate World of Warcraft server called Nostalrius running a "vanilla" version of the MMO as it existed in its earliest days. Today, the game's executive producer J. Allen Brack explained why, and said Blizzard was considering ways it could allow players to re-experience Azeroth in its original form without resorting to pirate servers.
"We wanted to let you know that we've been closely following the Nostalrius discussion and we appreciate your constructive thoughts and suggestions," Brack said in a post on the game's forums. "Our silence on this subject definitely doesn't reflect our level of engagement and passion around this topic... We have been discussing classic servers for years - it's a topic every BlizzCon - and especially over the past few weeks."
Brack said Blizzard couldn't allow the pirate server to keep on as it had been because failure to protect its intellectual property would weaken its rights in the future, and the company saw no "clear legal path to protect Blizzard's IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server."
As for supporting classic servers officially, Brack said there were "tremendous operational challenges" associated with the idea, including the cost of supporting multiple live versions of a game like World of Warcraft.
"So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a 'pristine realm,'" Brack said. "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."
Brack added that the developers would continue to listen to the player base for guidance on this subject. Additionally, he said Blizzard has been in contact with some of the people behind Nostalrius and was looking forward to more conversations with them soon.