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Vanilla WoW Dreams: Blizzard Met Nostalrius

Blizzard have met and discussed running reviving older versions of World of Warcraft with folks who ran a popular pirate/private/unofficial ‘vanilla’ server, and… it went fine? Blizzard haven’t e.g. imprisoned them within a barrow for all eternity, at least. But, as expected, the meeting hasn’t lead to Blizzard vowing to bring back vanilla WoW or anything like that. Still, it is nice that Blizzard haven’t e.g. entombed their corpses in sunken ruins near a vast magical whirlpool. They can be very dramatic sometimes.

The Nostalrius server had been recreating the pre-expansion WoW experience, rolling out new raids and whatnot in the same way as Blizzard had added them, until Blizzard’s lawyers started sending serious letters. Facing a trial, the Nostalrius gang shut the server down in April. Blizzard later said that “failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights.”

With tongues a-wagging and a fingers a-petitionsigning, Blizzard said they’d meet with Nostalrius folks and started thinking aloud about a return to old ways. They raised the idea of a “pristine realm” with all modern WoW’s experience boosters and helpers disabled, but that’s a rubbish idea missing the point. Then they talked about the pacing problems of modern WoW, of how people are now rushed through zones and levelling. It would be peachy if Blizzard did fix pacing, which has suffered over years of expansions and changes, but what about players who want actual vanilla WoW?

Last week, Nostalrius finally met Blizzard to talk about vanilla servers. Nostfolk have written a report of their visit to Blizzard HQ, where they gave a presentation and chatted with folks including Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime and WoW’s executive producer, game director, and technical director. They seem pleased with how it went.

And… no, Blizzard have not said they’ll bring back vanilla WoW or sanction servers which do. Some Blizzfolk might seem interested in the idea personally, but as a studio there’s no decision. Blizzard explained to the Nostfolk that, while they do have source code for much of vanilla WoW, it’d take a lot of work to recreate parts and rebuild it.

The Nostfolk add that “In addition to the technical aspects of releasing a legacy server Blizzard also needs to provide a very polished game that will be available to their millions of players, something existing unofficial legacy servers cannot provide.”

That’s it. Blizzfolk said to stay in touch and Nostfolk sound hopeful but whether or not Blizzard as a studio even want to revive vanilla WoW is still unknown, let alone whether they think it’s worth the time and money to do so. Maybe this was a face-saving PR exercise, maybe it was a first step on an exciting journey. The news is that there’s no news. Hey, I’m just here to tell you that no one has e.g. been tricked into a blood ritual binding them to demon lords from another plane.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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