World of Warcraft Private Server Debacle Remains Ongoing

While hype has certainly died down, Blizzard and private server "Nostalrius" devs aim to meet soon.

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 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”:

“Over the years we have talked about a “pristine realm”. 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.”

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

Published May. 25th 2016
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    While nostalgia is part of why I prefer legacy servers, it is not the majority reason. The game in every way was more rewarding in Vanilla and TBC. I'm playing a TBC server now with sped up xp gains and higher drop rates and it is still taking days of grinding to get pre-raid gear. Every tiny gear upgrade you get is a hugely rewarding moment. WoD and the last few expansions have started handing out gear like candy and it removes any sense of accomplishment. Playing Vanilla and TBC has reminded me where some of my work ethic came from.

    Edit: I noticed that in Brack's little you think you do speech, he mentions how we used to have to spam trade chat to find a tank, now you just press a button. This is exactly why I prefer the game before LFG was automated. On the TBC server I'm playing on now, I've met a tank from Taiwan. Every night when I get home from work, he is waking up in the morning there and we run instances together for a few hours. You simply do not get that experience in retail.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    Pretty much this. I've been on and off vanilla p. servers for a while now, I don't play for nostalgia I play for how much more difficult and rewarding it is. Not to mention the sense of adventure while leveling and the fact you have to communicate with other players so often.

    Mana management is such a core part of just leveling that you're forced to really optimize your skill usage. Mobs hit hard, take a lot of damage, and can't be spammed to death efficiently. You spam, you're stuck sitting there drinking after every mob kill.

    Each gear upgrade along the leveling road has a visible impact on your overall strength. Those extra few stat points make a difference and you're thankful for each one.

    The talent tree, of course, is a big plus for me. I do not enjoy the simplicity of retail WoW's skill customization.

    There are a lot of reasons I love vanilla and TBC WoW and I'd be happy to pay monthly for it just as I did 11 ~ 9 years ago.
  • Auverin Morrow
    Featured Contributor
    If the Nostalrius servers could somehow get sanctioned by Blizzard and continue running, I might actually pick up World of Warcraft and play it. I wasn't really an MMO person when the game came out, and by the time I wandered over into that genre, there were already so many expansions and such an established fan base that I didn't feel like I would ever really "get" Warcraft the way those folks did. A legacy server would be amazing. Bet lots of new fans would be as interested in old fans.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I'm pretty sure a legacy version would be the sole reason I'd play the game. I've never really been into WoW (mostly because I can't afford subs) but I'd probably get into it if it had the older style. New content is too kid directed/friendly for me.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    Old WoW is a hard game that requires a lot of planning all the time as well as communication with other players from the beginning to end of a character's leveling.

    New WoW is not.

    I can understand why so many people prefer the more "modern" WoW, which is far more streamlined and so easy a 10 year old can whomp their way to max level with minimal risk. But that type of game design is not appealing when you want a leveling adventure and not a streamlined treadmill to max level.

    An example of something modern WoW just is not willing nor capable (due to the nature of the game's fanbase) of doing:

    There was a Horde quest in vanilla, I forget the name now, that was very very long and easily missed that required you to know the answers to four questions. The quest itself led to these four questions and you could only answer them once.

    Get the questions right, you completed the quest. Hurrah! Get one of them wrong and the Horde NPCs would shun you for an hour (or half hour, I forget). You'd have a special debuff and they would all appear neutral.

    Now, what you could do (and what I did on my shaman) was kill Horde NPCs as a Horde player with this debuff because all the NPCs appeared neutral. So a decked out 60 could run a one-man train on small Horde areas like the Crossroads--which I very much did and had about 10 dudes following me giving me shit for killing their quest givers.

    I'm not saying what I did at that time was a nice thing to do, but it was something I wanted to do very badly because I was one of the top shamans on my server and I was about to quit. And the game, by god, let me do that. I got a memory that is mine and mine alone, and only a handful of other people have ever bothered doing it.

    WoW can't have things like that now because everyone is supposed to have the same chance at being great and have essentially the same experiences, regardless of the time or skill put forth. And world PvP.. let's not go into its current state.

    There is something to be said about the amount of effort it took to level and get good with a character that doesn't apply to the game in its current state, not to mention the types of experiences that were truly personal due to forced socialization and obtuse quest instructions that are simply impossible with its current systems.

    This was a long comment, and I'm not trying to make old WoW sound amazing. It wasn't perfect and it truly was a hard game, sometimes for the wrong reasons. But it's also a shining example of the adventure of leveling being the focus in an MMO, which is something barely any bother to do today because your average MMO gamer wants to be max level max profs da bes right away and Blizzard is more than happy to cater to that demographic because they are in the majority, which is the smarter business choice.

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