‘There are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers,’ says exec producer J. Allen Brack following closure of ‘vanilla’ server

Blizzard explains fan WoW server shutdown: ‘There is not a clear legal path to protect our IP’

Blizzard has responded to World of Warcraft fans’ outcry over the recent closure of a fan-hosted server for the game.

Nostalrius ran a pirate version of the popular MMO as it was when it first launched back in 2004 – also known as a ‘vanilla’ state.

However, the private server – which boasted more than 800,000 registered users and 150,000 simultaneous players at its peak – was struck by a cease and desist from Blizzard earlier this month, leading to its shutdown.

The 30-strong team behind the project subsequently issued an open letter to Blizzard, saying: "We don’t have the pretention to come up with a complete solution regarding legacy servers that you and your company didn’t already think about, but we’d be glad and honored to share it with you if you’re interested, still on a volunteer basis.

“Do you think that a policy change can be made regarding legacy servers based on volunteers work, for very old no longer supported game expansion?"

Now, World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack has responded to the suggestion, explaining the technical and legal complications behind offering a Blizzard-hosted legacy server for the title.

“Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was?” he asks. “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.

“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. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW.”

However, Brack added, the team was working to implement new features that might recreate some of the appeal of a vanilla game world for fans.

“So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? 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.

“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 concluded by revealing that Blizzard had “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,” he said.

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