Blizzard considering "pristine" World of Warcraft

After shutting down pirate servers running original version of MMO, publisher weighs in on proper support for the idea

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.

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Latest comments (3)

Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of UtahA year ago
Players may have preferred one period in WoW's history over another for a wide variety of reasons. But the #1 reason anyone uses a private server is that they want to avoid a monthly fee. #2 is that they've been banned from Blizzard servers and/or want to use cheats and have to go elsewhere for their fix.

Nothing that Blizzard does can address those two issues. Legacy servers would be a diversion, nothing more.
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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer A year ago
I completely disagree. I played on one of those private servers a few years ago and by far my main reason for playing it over retail servers was because I find vanilla wow far more enjoyable than retail. I still would've played it even if I had to pay $10 a month or whatever it was. Pretty much everyone I talked to on that server shared my opinion.
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Shane Sweeney Academic A year ago
Nostalgia is powerful. This wasn't about piracy.
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