WoW Server Shutdown
Recently, something pretty interesting happened in the world of video gaming: a living world, the WoW Nostalrius server, the home to thousands and thousands of players, was destroyed.
Well, okay, the WoW Nostalrius server was more “turned off” than destroyed, but the fact remains that a game world with over 800,000 accounts and 150,000 active players is no longer available to play. Understandably, this fact has been massively controversial to the video gaming sphere.
The World of Nostalrius
The destroyed world in question was called Nostalrius. Technically it was playing the famous MMORPG World of Warcraft. But this was not the WoW that you get as a regular player of the game. Nostalrius instead ran what is known as a “legacy” version of WoW. This means that it was a privately owned server that was loaded with an older version of WoW from the game’s long past. This could be accessed by the public by creating an account on the server. Once that was done, all the nostalgic fun of old school WoW (technically build 1.12, Drums of War) was available to anyone with a computer good enough to run a 10 year-old game.
That is, until Blizzard, makers of WoW, came in and shut the whole thing down on April 10, 2016.
As the announcement from the Nostalrius team said just a few days before shutdown, “Yesterday, we received a letter of formal notice from US and [F]rench lawyers, acting on behalf of Blizzard Entertainment, preparing to stand trial against our hosting company OVH and ourselves in less than a week now. […] This means the de facto end of Nostalrius under its current form.”
The future of legacy servers in WoW
Player reaction to the WoW Nostalrius shutdown were passionate, and it’s come in massive numbers. As of the writing of this article, over 260,000 signatures have been collected on a petition. This was to ask Blizzard to provide some sort of legacy server of their own, if they won’t let Nostalrius exist. Dozens of articles have been written on the biggest gaming sites about the shutdown. This started discussions about everything from intellectual property to the value of nostalgia all over the web.
From Blizzard’s side of things, the situation initially did not look good for those clinging to the hope of a legacy server in some form. Company head J. Allen Brack said, “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.” Brack has also said that Blizzard has been “discussing classic servers for years,” but there are “tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers.”
Despite Blizzard’s clearly negative response, fans have maintained that there is an argument to be made. If the fans want it, Blizzard should either provide it, or allow someone else to in their stead. Comment sections on articles about Nostalrius and Reddit discussions of the server are full to the brim with fans. Many who were amongst the 150,000 active players on the server, who range from heartbroken to furious about the shutdown. The enormous numbers of signees to the official legacy server petition reflects the overwhelming public sentiment. Which signals that Blizzard needs to do something about all of this.
So what will happen next after WoW Nostalrius server ShutDown?
Unfortunately for those hundreds of thousands of gamers, it’s still unclear how this will all shake out. We know that Blizzard has been holding their position strongly, but we also know that the Nostalrius team is meeting with Blizzard at their campus soon to discuss the future of legacy WoW versions, a sign that, while obviously not a total victory for legacy fans, is better than nothing. There’s also the petition, which continues to gain signatures. Pressure is mounting from the public after all of the articles about the server. The fact that Blizzard says they absolutely have been talking about this for years means that we may still see some form of legacy servers in the future. In fact, some players believe that Blizzard is actually working on this behind the scenes and will make an announcement fairly soon about their own legacy servers being available.
Whatever happens, it’s been a unique and incredibly interesting chapter in the history of gaming. We’ve never really seen an active, massive community like this eliminated in its prime. If nothing else, it’s led to some interesting discussions. It proves once and for all that, for gamers more than maybe anyone else, nostalgia is a seriously powerful force. To the world’s billions of video gamers, who still go crazy for games far older than WoW (Super Mario Bros., anyone?), this really should come as no surprise.
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