Blizzard In Talks With Nostalrius World of Warcraft Operators

Blizzard has responded to the petitions, videos and general outcry from the fans regarding the shutting down of the private server, Nostalrius. Executive producer J. Allen Brack made a post on the official World of Warcraft forums

Blues spotted the post by Brack, where he explained all the typical platitudes about Blizzard loving World of Warcraft (and they should since they made it and continue to make money on it) as well as why they couldn’t allow the Nostalrius servers to continue to operate, writing…

“Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And 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. “

People were reluctantly fine with Blizzard protecting their IP, but what they weren’t fine with was Brack’s excuse for not bringing back a vanilla server.

Former lead on World of Warcraft, Mark Kern, made a video on KungenTV imploring Blizzard to consider the request of fans to bring back a vanilla server, which came after a petition with more than 238,000 signatures came about asking for a response from Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime.

Open Letter to Blizzard Entertainment from Mark Kern

A message from Mark Kern to Blizzard @grummz Graphics by (CHECK HIM OUT!) Please sign the petition to help out! The more the better – Awesome work guys. Thank you for doing this for the World of Warcraft community /KungenTV

Part of Brack’s response was that they would consider a “Pristine Realm” that removed a bunch of cash shop options, microtransactions and boosters, but no one asked for that and it has absolutely nothing to do with a vanilla server.

The only upside to the post from Brack was that he mentioned that Blizzard was in talks with the original server operators of Nostalrius, writing…

“One other note – we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.”

That was the only positive thing most World of Warcraft fans begging for a vanilla server gleaned from the post.

According to Brack, the team working on the MMO can’t implement classic or vanilla servers because…

“We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would.”

The most common question is: why not just use Nostalrius’ server setup? Or more importantly, how was it possible for modders to get World of Warcraft up and running with relatively no bugs and few glitches?

All of the common sense questions about what the exact technical hold-ups are preventing Blizzard from bringing back the vanilla servers go unanswered.

What’s more is that World of Warcraft has lost 6 million subscribers over the past six years, and Nostalrius had gained 800,000 registered users within the span of a year, with 150,000 active users on at any given time. So there really isn’t a question of demand given that more than an entire sixth of Blizzard’s current subscriber base was playing on a vanilla server. It baffles me how they would be willing to ignore that kind of demand, especially given that Nostalrius had no advertising or promotion.

The World of Warcraft forum topic about this subject is currently stickied, and is moving at a rapid pace, garnering well over a hundred pages within the span of hours. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll find out just what Blizzard has in store for any vanilla servers and what sort of results will come out of their talks with the Nostalrius crew.


OAG staff consists of writers creating content about video game and digital culture.

21 thoughts on “Blizzard In Talks With Nostalrius World of Warcraft Operators

  1. All of the common sense questions about what the exact technical hold-ups are preventing Blizzard from bringing back the vanilla servers go unanswered.

    The most obvious one is the old game version database system compatible with Blizzards modern account system without massive retooling?
    Users would obviously want the all the modern conveniences that were NOT possible back in vanilla like race change, faction change, gender change, no transfer possible between PVE and PVP servers, etc.
    Then people will want to move their character from a vanilla server to the modern game and/or vice versa. Either blizzard will have to sell no and making such servers less attractive or spend manhours on making some sort of system to jump back and forth with characters.

    1. I’d actually say not being able to change characters that easily is one of the appeals of the classic experience for a multitude of reasons that are related to how the permanence of those choices, and the immutability of the characters combined with the effort it took to level a character back then (vs the effort it would take to level another one) affected the perception of the player about one’s character.

      In today’s wow, a character can be bought, instant leveled with money, payed to be recustomzied, you can pay to have it transfered to a different world, you can even pay to change its name, nothing is set in stone, a character ends feeling like such a light thing, a faceless shapeless means to play the game without any real identity or value.

      But back then it was a character was a more personal thing, a personal creation with some given immutability, a work in progress, something of a choice to make and stick with, a burden, but also an accomplishment, it felt more tangible, more satisfactory in a way as well, more real. The achievements of a character could not easily be transfered to a different character in a different realm, or the nature of a character could not easily be changed to the point the character becomes irrecognizable and and entirely different entity of what it once was.

      1. You may see it that way but even back in the vanilla days people were asking for those features before they became available.

        Want to play with a friend but he’s horde and you rolled an ally?

        Tough shit. You either had to delete your toon or both start over on another realm because you could not create a horde and ally on the same realm.

        Want to play with a friend but you both have your toons on another realm and one is a PVE and the other a PVP one?
        Tough shit. One of you will have to reroll.

        And people change. That name you picked might have sounded cool when you made that toon but you can end up hating it later.
        Same with chosen race, appearance, sex, etc.

      2. I know people wanted those quality of life, convenience, and comodity benefits.

        But I’m saying that in the grand scheme of things, from the perspective of the game as a whole, some things that seem nice on paper, some things people think they want, will actually make the game more boring for the vast majority of them.

        That mindset of convenience at all costs is what has made WOW what it is today vs what it was.

        People didn’t like having to commit to a specs?
        No problem, talents removed, now nobody has a bad spec! They wanted to still have it all? Ok, no problem, everyone gets multiple talent trees.
        They wanted to do raids easily? And free epics? No problem, blizzard gave it to them, now instances are as easy as AOE spam, there’s welfare gear for everyone, and nothing ends mattering anymore.

        This is more like a game design thing than anything else, but from a user experience point of view, some burdens can make the experience more enjoyable despite superficially looking as if they make it worse.

        As a very very broad example, the risk of failure is a reason to try hard not to fail, and as extension, it is a reason why actually achieving something is satisfactory afterwards.

        Either something matters and players have to deal with the consequences, for better or worse, or it doesn’t matter, and they don’t suffer any negative aspect, but they can’t enjoy the positive aspects either.

      3. While I see you points and agree with some of them i have to disagree on multiple talents. As someone who played priest it was spec holy or GTFO (especially before the TBC where Shadow actually became a desirable spec for instances/raids) when you reached endgame and wanted to run end game group content.

        Being able to switch between holy for instance/raids and shadow for doing anything else without having to cough up 50 gold every time was allot more fair since pure DPS classes didn’t have this problem.

        Personally I do like and prefer games with single purpose classes without hybrid classes or DPS builds for healing/support/tanking classes forcing people to get good at their role but WoW never really had a ‘pure’ class so it was pretty damn unfair for the classes that happened to have a tanking and healing tree.

    2. People were willing to just make a new character. I don’t think it would have been a problem to make a classic server for those people. For those who really wanted it, it’s better to start over on a classic server than none at all. It didn’t need to cater to every need. Just the main one.

      1. The problem is that if Blizzard would run them, people expect the same level of quality and professional service as with their other products.

        For all we know Blizzard binned the source code and scripts for vanilla long ago.
        And even if they still have them its 10 year old code. I doubt they can just install the old server software on a modern server and call it a day. And does the old client even run stable on Windows 10 and modern hardware?

        Than there is the users issue. Nostril may tout those 800.000 accounts but only 150.000 kept playing. That’s less than a quarter of the people that registered.

        If Blizzard were to open Vanilla realms people would obviously rush to try them and they need to open multiple Vanilla realms since no one that played Vanilla on launch had fond memories of those server queues . If the official Vanilla realm would have the same amount of dropoff they would need to look at server merges which are a massive headache for both the users and publisher.

      2. Nostril may tout those 800.000 accounts but only 150.000 kept playing.

        The 150k were the concurrently active members… we don’t know how many out of the 800,000 kept playing. Even still, 150k active players a day is more than what Team Fortress 2 averages.

      3. Point still stands that after the initial rush and the nostalgia wears off for the old players and the players who never played Vanilla discover the game was not the amazing masterpiece people claimed it to be there will be a good amount of drop off and they will end up with thinly populated realms.

        Anyone who played Warhammer Online at launch when EA made the mistake to open too many servers and most people quit after free month was over can tell you being stuck on a low pop realm is a disaster.

        So they will either have to merge or implant the cross realm tech in vanilla making it un-vanilla.

  2. Blizzard is talk with them? Most likely something along the lines of “If you dare release the source code for the servers you all will rot in jail and watch helpless how we drown your loved ones in debt to the point that your grandmas will sleep on the street inside a cardboard box for a house.

    With love

    Bobby Kotick.”

  3. Ah, blizzard blizzard good old blizzard.

    They can’t stop lying can they?

    Their argument about HAVING to shut down the server or risk losing their IP is BS, but there’s still people out there ignorant enough to believe it, so it is a practical argument, regardless of its truthfulness.

    And saying they can’t implement a classic server because it is too hard, that’s obviously another lie, it was a lie back when they said it and it is still a lie today.

    I personally would love if something good came out of all of this, I’ll still hate blizzard for sure, but I could not complain if they reached some arrangement that gave people the option to play the game they want.

    If they could even improve the quality of that experience and legitimize the classic servers, even better, if they just let Nostalrius go on as they were before, that is fine too.

    But I don’t hold my breath in hope of Blizzard doing something right anymore.

    1. I seriously don’t get the animosity towards Blizzard over this whole thing. People have been asking for vanilla servers as far back as TBC and they always said no.
      And if you run a private server you know you run the risk it will get shut down by the IP holder one day.
      Been there myself with a Lineage 2 with a private server called L2Xtreme that had a 35x EXP modifier because leveling in legit Lineage 2 was painfully slow. It got shut down after NC Soft decided to go on anti private server campaign. It sucked. But NC was within their rights.

      1. I have personally disliked Blizzard since WOTLK days, more or less, when Ghostcrawler aka greg street took over, the activision influence began to spread in blizzard, and they went from a venerable gaming company that put players and quality first to what it has become today.

    2. Don’t worry, next time a random SJW asks for removing triggered content, they will do it in a heartbeat. Always keep their priorities in mind.

  4. “We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be
    executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of
    this would be created, we would.”

    On the risk of being stoned around here, I’ll say:

    You know, this is the reason that outsourcing exists.

    If you truly want to do something, but your internal team doesn’t have enough room to do that, you outsource that task to an external team that you trust.

    Sure, managing inside Blizzard’s own studios would be much better, but if it can’t be done this way, it can at least be done on another. Just get a small to team to verify the quality of the work produced by the outsourced team, and put a blizzard’s seal of quality on it. You don’t really need tons of resources to do that.

    1. I don’t think this is a fringe view at all. In fact, I think most people would probably suggest that Blizzard outsource to people who know what they’re doing if it costs too much or is too inconvenient for the internal team to do the work. In fact, they could just hire the Nostalrius crew to do the work for them.

      1. My bad judgement then.

        Inside the industry at least, specially on the AAA circles, outsourcing is not cast on a good light. Probably because most directors and producers are megalomaniacal micromanagers bastards and therefore hate the idea that some producing will happen out of their sights. Artists usually just complain about lack of consistency in material produced by outsourced teams.

        I’ve seen gamers complaining about bad porting studios and outsourced servers so I guess gamers would be adverse to the idea as well.

        I can understand how outsourcing can be bad, and between outsourced vs internal, internal all the way to me. But if it can’t be done, outsourcing is not a bad option either.

      2. I’ve seen gamers complaining about bad porting studios and outsourced servers so I guess gamers would be adverse to the idea as well.

        Heh, well sure… yeah in those cases outsourcing usually is looked upon rather unfavorably. But the reasons for that is the same reasons why people would want this particular scenario to be outsourced: quality.

        In most cases when it comes to port houses, people aren’t fond of those with bad track records producing ports of poor quality; in the same way that if a feature was handled internally and handled poorly, most fans would prefer if another group took over to do it right. I think at the end of the day, for gamers, it’s just about the quality of the end result.

    1. That’s a perfect example with Runescape, and one of the reasons why it’s still well respected to this day. One would think that Blizzard would see this scenario and easily want to do all within their power to stop their subscribers from bleeding out, especially given that they’re literally losing a million subscribers a year.

  5. Should have talked to them first. You know, instead of treating them as lowly scum and shutting them down without any prior communication.

    I’m sure that if there wasn’t such a huge backlash, Blizzard would have kept being sociopathic assholes and ignoring everyone.

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