Could Blizzard Offer Legacy Servers?

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The cat-and-mouse game between Blizzard and Private WoW servers continues. Blizzard responded to a Legacy Server petition from earlier this month and, as expected, won’t be launching Vanilla servers

The VP of WoW did leave the door open for servers that offer stripped down version of the World of Warcraft experience.

vanilla_warcraft_logon_screen_by_savaena-d6wpux4

They did so because there is a growing community of people who disagree with the changes Blizzard has been implementing over the last 10 years. Gamers aren’t immune to nostalgia either; some grew up playing World of Warcraft as their first MMO and want to recapture that 2005 feeling.

A version of WoW that doesn’t include any expansions appears off the table for the time being, including those hosted by private groups.

According to J Allen Brack, Executive producer and Vice President for World of Warcraft:

“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.”

It’s pretty sad that Nostalrius and other private groups had taken the time to build a community and provide a service only to have it torn away by the company they love. Nostalrius wouldn’t be hosting servers of a 10-year-old game if they hadn’t  spent so much time enjoying the classic MMO.

I would love to see Blizzard offer Legacy Servers for their die-hard fans of vanilla WoW. Groups like those using Nostalrius’ servers show that it’s doable in some form. The question though is, What kind of rabbit hole could this lead Blizzard down?

World of Warcraft Aniversary

Remember, volunteers mostly run these private servers or supported by donations (in a doomed attempt to avoid the copyright lawyers),  so the logical thinking is that it shouldn’t cost Blizzard all that much… especially when they have players vocalizing their willingness to re-subscribe and pay the monthly fee.

Blizzard runs into a few problems here though, how many players would be willing to put their money where they mount is and get back on the subscription horse? The second issue I foresee comes from what I think of as Blizzard’s duty of care… or customer satisfaction.

When you’re paying Blizzard to for a service, you expect some good quality and listening to the community. So a reasonable customer would expect bug fixes and balance tweaks… but doesn’t that go against the idea of a Legacy server?

If WoW was to launch a Legacy Server, which Vanilla Patch should it be at? 1.0.0 may be a nice point for purists… but weren’t there bugs and exploits? That’s not conducive to a positive playing experience.

Perhaps Blizzard should opt for the last patch before The Burning Crusade when most of the Vanilla issues could be realistically ironed out.

A separate game client would be required, Blizzard would need to create an option in their Battle.net launcher to download a second instance of World of Warcraft that is Vanilla only. The current client has different art assets and maps loaded in its folders.

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A Dragon devastated the original map and flooded the Thousand Needle, I doubt the current client still keeps old outdated assets lying around.

The download is big… but not that big.

It’s unrealistic for players with no interest in Legacy to download Legacy assets. Blizzard would need to run two separate ‘forks’(?) of the World of Warcraft client. The Legacy players are paying for an account and access to Battle.net servers, so they’d be entitled to the current iteration as well. This would make two clients required.

I’ve only scratched the surface here but I’m already stumbling over issues. Blizzard isn’t a stupid company. While I may question its methods at times, I’m sure they’ve looked at the data and technical hurdles to come to their conclusion.

With copyright laws the way they are now, companies need to defend their IP across the board. Blizzard doesn’t have the option to look the other way if a private WoW server is brought to their attention.

Although, Blizzard invited Nostalrius for a meeting at Blizzard headquarters, so hopefully we’ll get an update soon.

Vanilla players will need to keep getting their fix from the dodgy looking Mister Whippy van that changes its number plate and ownership every few months.

Blizzard hasn’t stocked that flavour in a long time.

Regards,

Daniel

What do you think of Legacy Servers? Continue the discussion in the comments below.

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