Blizzard has harboured quite a few backlashes in its time, but the most vitriolic in recent memory was their decision to wield the banhammer against Nostalrius, a fan-run World of Warcraft server dedicated towards everything the MMO had to offer pre-Burning Crusade.
Despite the intense outrage, Blizzard has remained fairly silent on the manner. But late this afternoon J. Allen Brack, a Blizzard vice president and executive producer on World of Warcraft, issued a statement on the Blizzard forums.
Photo: Blizzard Entertainment
In the post, the company veteran said that Blizzard had been monitoring the discussion around the server and that their previous silence wasn't indicative of their engagement or stance on the matter. "Many of us across Blizzard and the WoW Dev team have been passionate players ever since classic WoW. In fact, I personally work at Blizzard because of my love for classic WoW," Brack wrote.
He stressed that while the company wasn't unsympathetic to the desires of their fans, the situation was legally tricky -- and had they not moved to shut down the server, they could be opening up a legal Pandora's Box.
"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."
Brack went on to make an interesting point about the possibility of a Blizzard-sanctioned "pristine server", a realm that would disable character transfers, recruiting bonuses, tokens, character boosts, the group finder, cross realm zone access and anything else that would accelerate your ability to level. Blizzard isn't quite set on the idea yet, although its mention here means it's obviously something they want to open for wider debate.
Furthermore, Blizzard has also been in touch with the organisers behind the Nostalrius server. "They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks," Brack wrote. He didn't say what those conversations would involve, although it wouldn't be a massive surprise if Blizzard sought their help down the road to permanently maintain and run a vanilla server with the company's blessing.
Brack's posting under the Nethaera account is his first in two years, with his previous missive being an apology to the community for the "subpar launch experience" for the Draenor expansion.