The subject of whether Blizzard should release official World of Warcraft classic servers is a tricky one. Anytime the topic comes up, the WoW community appears to split down the middle. The conversation quickly turns into a hotly contested debate between those who simply dismiss the idea as nostalgic nonsense, and those who insist they genuinely preferred the ‘good old days’ of vanilla WoW.
The last time the topic came up was when the most popular, private WoW vanilla server ‘Nostalrius’ was shut down by Blizzard back in April. It caused a huge amount of unrest, giving birth to a petition that gained more than 200,000 signatures before being taken directly to Blizzard president Mike Morhaime. The team behind Nostalrius were then invited to Blizzard HQ to talk about it and everyone held their breath. However, nothing so far has come of it. Not publicly, at least.
With the recent release of WoW’s hugely successful expansion, Legion, I’d all but forgotten about it. The official WoW forums had finally died down after months of threads dedicated to the classic server discussion, and it seemed that, for the most part, WoW players were happy with their lot. Until now.
On October 7th, Nostalrius released a blog that re-opened the can of worms.
“Blizzard’s Blizzcon is on the 4-5 November, a month from now. This is the golden occasion for them to announce their plan for legacy realms, and potentially fulfil the dreams of millions of fans over the world.
Yes, Blizzard is well aware of the Legacy issue now thanks to all of you:
They know that the need is here with around 300,000 players signing our petition and the statistics from the survey we published (answered by 50,000 WoW gamers) showing that players are ready to pay a subscription fee for it.
According to the discussion we had since our official meeting at their headquarters, they now have everything in their hands to fulfil the large community request for Legacy servers, solving all the previous technical issues they highlighted during the feedback they provided.
As a consequence, if Blizzard doesn’t make an announcement to honour their own core values, be sure that we will.”
Blizzard have since responded to the buzz Nostalrius’ post reawakened in the community, and with unprecedented, yet welcome, speed. On October 25th, this was posted on the official WoW forums:
“We’ve seen some talk among the community that you might be expecting to hear some news on legacy servers at BlizzCon, and we just wanted to take a moment to let you know that while we’re still discussing the possibility, we won’t have any updates to share on that until after the show.
These past few months we’ve been laser-focused on the launch of Legion and getting Patch 7.1: Return to Karazhan ready to go (it’s almost here!), as well as prepping for BlizzCon—which is always a huge undertaking itself. You’ve heard us say that the launch of Legion was just the beginning of the story we want to tell in this expansion. What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion.
Thanks for your patience, and we’ll see you at BlizzCon.
-J. Allen Brack and the World of Warcraft development team”
This, of course, was met with a number of boos, and what happens next is anyone’s guess, but just what makes the idea of classic WoW servers so appealing? Is it simply nostalgia, or is it something more?
When the whole Nostalrius/private server debate reached fever pitch earlier this year, I was all too keen to add my 2 cents. From a personal standpoint, I could see the allure of wanting to go back to a time when the game’s design felt more my style. Having played since early 2007, I’d seen many changes come and go to the point that WoW didn’t feel like WoW anymore. I was deeply unhappy with Warlords of Draenor and hadn’t particularly enjoyed Mists of Pandaria either. Even so, I continued to play, raiding with my guild of friends while hoping for better days.
I missed the Burning Crusade days. To me, the game back then felt like it had more depth. Class design was very different, making content a lot harder and therefore rewarding. That true feeling of accomplishment just wasn’t there like it used to be; even leveling took time and effort! As much as I missed that version of WoW, I continued to play on live and never once tried out a private server.
Those opposed to the classic server idea were so vehemently so that, for the first time in 9 years of playing World of Warcraft, I gave in and tried out a private server for myself, just to see if I was looking back at the Burning Crusade through ‘rose-tinted goggles’ like everybody claimed.
I did some research, installed the game from my old discs and joined a private TBC server. I made a human female warrior, just like I did back in 2007, and limited myself to one evening of play. I felt so incredibly guilty for even trying it that I refused to play for longer.
The next five hours were the best I’d had in WoW for a very long time.
The memories came flooding back to me as I completed old quests with the old class design. The server had increased the experience gain but I still had only reached level 10 by the time the evening was up. The area was filled with players – one of whom opened up a trade window and handed me some basic, common gear. I had no money, and so I gratefully accepted.
Others asked to group with me when we bumped into each other killing kobolds in a mine. “Is your quest complete?” the paladin in my group asked me when he was done. “I need one more,” I replied. “Alright,” he said, and proceeded to help me get the kill. Once we were safely outside, we said our goodbyes and the group disbanded.
It sounds like such a small, trivial thing, but it was moments like this that really made the game great. WoW was a social experience, an experience that has slowly declined over the expansions. The game was hard, you had to team up. You wanted to team up. Players helped one another. Often it led to great friendships.
Rose tinted goggles? I think not.
With that all said, now that Legion is in full swing I find myself rather content with the state of live WoW. Would I still play on a classic server, should Blizzard choose to release one? I think so, but the longing isn’t so strong anymore. A large part of my desire to go back to ‘the good ol’ days’ was steeped in my dissatisfaction with the current game. If the WoW devs keep delivering enjoyable experiences on the live servers, we should be good, but of course what makes the game enjoyable for me isn’t the same for everyone else.
For those who would still rather be playing an older version of the game, I feel you. Don’t give up hope; just because there won’t be an announcement at Blizzcon, doesn’t mean official classic servers have been forgotten about. The WoW dev team have been working hard to make the live game a better experience following a lackluster expansion, and Blizzcon is an incredibly busy time.
Let’s try and keep the discourse civil. We’re all here to have fun, after all!Related: Article, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzcon, MMORPG, Servers, World of Warcraft