Blizzard's lawyers in both the US and France have shut down a group of fans running a server for classic, "vanilla" World of WarCraft, a version of the game that regular players hadn't seen in a decade. Nostalrius, a group started up last year by a band of around 30 fans, had over 800,000 registered users, and 150,000 active players at the time of Blizzard's shutdown notice, which gives them until April 10 to wind things up.
Their servers were running World of WarCraft v1.12, the version of the game that was in existence just before the release of 2006's Burning Crusade, the first major WoW expansion. And while it's easy to argue that the game has improved and evolved as it's gotten older, there's no denying that for many — like the players on Nostalrius — the game was at its best as it was at the time of its original release, because that's the game that first hooked them.
Blizzard seem to have shut down the servers because, legally, they feel they can. It's their game, and it's an online game, and people have to pay them to play it, so they need to be running it.
Nostalrius obviously feel differently, seeing their servers not as competition for Blizzard, but as a means of providing something for fans that Blizzard themselves have never shown interest in.
Interestingly, while the Nostalrius team and server is winding down, their work isn't going down in smoke, as they're releasing it into the wild:
Today is also the day where Nostalrius will start being community-driven in the truest sense of the word, as we will be releasing the source code, and anonymized players data (encrypting personal account data), so the community as a whole will decide the form of the future of Nostalrius. We will still be there in the background if you want us to, but will no longer take the lead.
Some fans seem to have taken the news almost as something to be expected:
Well it was fun while it lasted! So many hours lost...just like that :(
FUCK YOU BLIZZARD! You stole our game to pander to the mainstream gamers and won't even make your own vanilla and TBC progression servers. You ruined this genre and continue to shit on your original audience.
There's a petition for fans to sign here.
Blizzard had not replied to a request for comment at time of writing.