Blizzard will launch a new version of World of Warcraft, which will recreate the "game experience" from when the iconic MMO first launched.
In effect, World of Warcraft: Classic will be like an official take on legacy servers, which exist to satisfy players nostalgic for the vanilla version of the game. Speaking onstage at Blizzcon, where Classic was announced, executive producer J. Allen Brack said that it would "replicate the game experience" of the original version, but it won't be a slavish recreation.
"Fans of World of Warcraft around the world, we hear you," Brack said on stage. "I am pleased and also a little bit nervous to announce the development of a classic server option for World of Warcraft.
"This is a larger endeavor than you might imagine, but we are committed to making an authentic, Blizzard-quality classic experience," Brack said.
What's less clear is exactly how long it will be before WoW: Classic is launched. Blizzard has ordered independent legacy servers to be taken down on several occasions in the past, and it publicly expressed an interest in running with the concept around 18 months ago.
However, while the demand has been apparent for a long time, it seems that the process of making Classic work has only just begun. Speaking to Eurogamer, Brack reiterated what he said about the degree of complexity involved in the task, and he expressed a desire to work with the game's community to decide what's essential to the original WoW experience.
"We've got an old build that's up and running that we're using for reference," he said. "Most of this job is going to be infrastructure: making sure everything can work on a more modern setup. Then there'll be the design questions, ones that the community will have strong opinions on: should UBRS be 10-person, or 5-person? Things like that."
Brack continued: "Before we started work on this project, we couldn't actually run vanilla WOW. The hardware is different. The operating systems are different. There was no way for it to just work... We said for several years that if there was a way for us to flip a switch and have it work, we'd flip that switch. It's not something that we didn't want to do for any arbitrary reason. There were legitimate, significant technical reasons."
WoW: Classic will have a separate team to the one making the new expansion, Battle for Azeroth, which Blizzard has not yet finished recruiting. And Brack highlighted just how long-term the company is thinking with this move, stating that, "we're in the WoW Classic business forever."
"Once that starts, there's a commitment on our end that we're going to continue maintaining those servers for as long as there is a World of Warcraft," he said.