While World of Warcraft still reigns supreme as the MMORPG colossus that it is, disillusioned fans of the game have often turned to other means of playing it when the current iteration of the game is lacking. These other means, which are illegal private servers not hosted by Blizzard in any way, have always co-existed with the retail version of the game, but have recently actually begun to rival it. One such private server, Nostalrius, was a progression server for the vanilla version of the game, meaning the version before any of the expansions were added. This server gained massive popularity, largely fueled by nostalgia, but may have also pointed out to Blizzard that they are losing touch with their audience.
Because of the private server’s rapidly increasing player base, and Blizzard’s own dwindling one, it was of no surprise to anyone that Blizzard threw their lawyers at the problem to make it go away -- and thus Nostalrius was shut down on April 10, 2016. This lead to a massive internet meltdown as /r/wow, the Battle.net forums, and even famous YouTubers such as Sodapoppin cried out in frustration at Blizzard. These entities turned their anger on Blizzard for not only shutting down a beloved server made for and by players, but for refusing to address that their own current version of WoW just wasn’t cutting it for fans anymore.
Two weeks later, while the internet rage storm continued and Blizzard seemed to be simply ignoring it all, Blizzard community manager Nethaera made a post on the World of Warcraft forums addressing the issue. While fans have been asking for legacy servers for years now, Blizzard has not done much else than just write it off, even going so far as to tell fans that their own opinions are wrong.
Nethaera’s post was significantly less condescending than the above, but still had a mixed reaction from the player base. While it was apparent a compromise was being constructed, Blizzard still seemed unable to budge on any actual legacy play. According to the post, Blizzard’s counter-solution is “pristine servers”:
While many believe that this is a step in the right direction, this is still just the current expansion, but just takes you longer to do everything. What Blizzard fails to see is that players don’t just want the game to be longer or harder, they want to play the actual version of the game before it was diluted by all of the expansions.
In May, Nostalrius announced they would be meeting with Blizzard to discuss the future of the legacy server, and to reach some form of consensus between the two parties. Players can only hope that something more substantial than “pristine servers” is still on the table, but only time will tell how stubborn Blizzard plans on being. In the meantime, at least we can play Overwatch.