Blizzard Shuts Down Fans Running Old Vanilla WoW Server

Blizzard Shuts Down Fans Running Old Vanilla WoW Server

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 🙁

Others… well

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.


  • Its a shame they are shutting this down. I don’t see how this was hurting anybody.

    • those 800 000 free players arent paying blizzard a monthly fee, so its hurting their bottom line, besides the fact that most of them would also have a monthly subscription to WoW is of no interest to them

      • And now those 800k players will have to move to other ftp servers and blizzard are non the richer but more hated.

        • If there weren’t any free servers, at least some of those players would resub to the base game though. It’s kinda like the piracy argument in that you don’t know exactly how many pirates are lost sales, but it’s safe to say at least some of them would have been.

          • I would put my hand up on this one.

            I like playing WoW and had a subscription running for the times I would log in (a few times a week), but unsubbed and joined this server as I wanted a bit of a nostalgia trip and knew they were preparing for a BC server. Being free was just the icing on the cake.

            So in my case I was a lost sale to them. Only problem now is the dilemma of resubbing again or hanging up my mace and maybe coming back at another point in time.

          • Sooo to paraphrase it’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message?

      • Yeah, people always told me the monthly fee was for to pay for the servers and extra content which are both things this community were not interested in.

        Its all about the money with Actiblizzard.

        • Money was involved though. Nostalrius’ upkeep was paid for through donations. It takes money to run a server, regardless of who’s doing it.

          • The company was founded to make money doing the thing they loved which was making games. If it was purely about making money then Blizzard would have been a banking company instead of a video game company.

            Today with it is primarily making money and gaming and gamers could go hang if it meant an extra 1% profit.

            That is the difference.

            Them putting making money above making a good product is what has led me to stop paying them hundreds of dollars a year.

          • Might as well be banking.

            When you are part of a multi national entertainment giant that deals in trading and investments, you are all about the Benjamin’s………baby.

  • Yeah found out this morning. I guess that’s truly it for me and WoW. 🙁

    I’ll miss my druid.

  • “There just isn’t enough interest to release classic-only servers”

    Which is evidently bullshit from the amount of 3rd party classic servers out there. I was on Feenix one day, a looooong time ago, and got a WSG pop in 7 minutes. Vanilla. That was less of a wait than WSG during BC on Blizz servers. Come on.

    • How many of the players on those third party servers are paying $15 a month? A lot of people play them because they’re free (or ‘donations encouraged but not required’), those numbers don’t convert if Blizzard were to run their own vanilla server(s).

      As for BG queue times, have you played WoW since TBC? Current queue times in my experience are always under 3 minutes unless it’s the middle of the night or just before maintenance.

      • Yeah I stopped playing early MoP. I remember nightmare times of waiting like an hour for a freaking BG in BC D; or hourS in vanilla haha

        • Dang, that sucks. They did introduce a mercenary system in Warlords where you can basically merc over to fight for the other faction if you want to. It was added because part of the reason for long queues was on a lot of battlegroups one faction tended to be dominant so much that the other faction just kinda gave up and didn’t queue any more.

          We actually had that problem in Warhammer Online too where we’d organised a supergroup of Order guilds to work together and because our coordination was so much better than Destruction we always won. Destruction tried to make their own supergroup but they were constantly bickering about who was in charge and it never took off. Instead of sorting out their problems, their three biggest guilds mass-transferred to another server where Destruction was doing well instead. Sad times.

      • Your mention of $15 a month genuinely makes me wonder how much people would pay Blizzard a month for largely unsupported, vanilla servers.

        Something Blizzard themselves could easily lock them to… “Pay $5 a month, get access to the vanilla servers. Pay $15 a month, get access to both vanilla and the up to date supported servers.”

        • I think the biggest disincentive to Blizzard is that they really can’t do vanilla servers ‘unsupported’. They have legal obligations as a company that would bind them to maintain the vanilla codebase and fix bugs, even if the players say they’re willing to accept it as-is with no future updates. If you’ve ever done software development before you know maintaining forked codebases is a nightmare, I definitely wouldn’t want to do it without a significant incentive if I were Blizzard.

          Don’t get me wrong though, I like the idea of it. I just think it’s more difficult than a lot of people may realise.

          • Couldn’t they just license it out to these guys so it was wholly their responsibility to run, and Blizzard just gets some kind of ongoing fee for it?

          • What happens if it’s bad quality then? Who’s to blame? Blizzard is really big on quality, it’s why they run and why their games are only designed for multiplayer through that. It was hard enough for The9 (and now NetEase) to get permission to run the WoW servers in China, I doubt they’d hand over any official kind of arrangement to (no offense intended) a ragtag group of amateurs.

            I mean, this is all speculation, we don’t have the actual reasons why Blizzard chose this route. I think for my part at least I’m at the limit of what I can speculate with any degree of accuracy =)

  • If I ‘legally feel’ like protecting something that is mine, I’m exercising a right.

    • Yes I often wonder how many people would react if the shoe were on the other foot.

      We all say we wouldn’t act the same but I genuinely believe most would react just as badly or worse.

    • Yes I often wonder how many people would react if the shoe were on the other foot.

      We all say we wouldn’t act the same but I genuinely believe most would react just as badly or worse.

  • i dont know why this is such big news because blizzard has done this multiple times because most of the time these private servers have a pay2win forumlar

    • How does that work? Just curious.

      Doesn’t really apply here Nostalrius was free as far as I could tell.

      • Several servers either accept donations publicly (as Nostalrius did) or accept under-the-table donations in exchange for gear.

      • they go the typical asian mmo way with a massive grind and instead of worrying about bad rng you could instead pay the admin cash to get super geared. i saw alot them back during vannilla, even attempted to set one up so me and my mates could do 10man MC/BWL/AQ/Naxx. Ive also set one up for myself just so i could explore the Cata beta but that was only to see the terrain changes, basically what MMO-champions and the rest of the fansites would do when before blizzard started doing press invites

  • I’m so sad… This really does look like a “because Blizzard can” move – I’ll miss the Nost community and everyone involved for such a fantastic experience that brought back that “holy shit!” feeling of vanilla.
    R.I.P Zarakem – the denizens of Kalimdor and Azeroth knew not a finer priest.
    Truly shattered.

  • I dont play anymore

    but you have dissapointed my mum yet again blizz

    eidt: we have both paid thousands for the game

  • Of course Blizzard have the right to shut it down, its their IP, they made it, they get to call the shots. Why is this even in doubt? How is there even a valid argument against this? If these Nostalrius guys were serious about building a community and a game with that oldschool flavour, then they should build their own MMO, maybe that would give them a bit of respect for the amount of work that goes into it and a bit of insight into protecting your IP and how crappy it feels to have someone steal it and pass it off as their own. Instead, they chose to be lazy and ride on Blizzard’s coat tails and use Blizzard’s name and the WoW brand to line their own pockets and build their own brand. Then, whey they get called on their nonsense and kicked off the gravy train they act like petulant children and throw a tantrum and flip the table. Like the kid who is told that isn’t his cake and he isn’t allowed to have it, so he smashes it and throws it accross the room to ruin it for everyone else.

    Blizzard have put at *least* 15 years of work into WoW and more than that into the Warcraft brand as a whole. They have absolutely every right to protect that investment, and really if you can’t see that you don’t live in the real world, or you’re just a spoilt entitled brat who thinks the world owes you something just because you want it.

    • No one is throwing cake around or trying to ruin WoW for everyone else. What an incredibly short sighted opinion.

      WoW (Blizzard WoW) *used* to be fun, interesting, exciting. Then Blizzard did everything they could to pander to their ever-shrinking player base to the point that the game is now largely ruined for a lot of people. It’s boring. I used to play, it sucks.

      I missed the more complex talent trees, I missed the more complex abilities and encounters and all of that. I missed the exploration and the team building and all that.

      So I haven’t played WoW for like 2 years or more now, and refuse to pay for it, because it sucks (for me). I do, however, play Nostalrius because it’s what I want. If Blizzard offered the same service for a reduced price I’d pay for that (if Nost didn’t exist) but they don’t.

      So, much like evolution, Blizzard’s product went its own way, and Nost’s went theirs and as is the way with the real world, the people have spoken and instead of working with the people, Blizzard is working against them in true faceless-conglomeration fashion.

      So I’m now back to not playing WoW at all because I don’t want to pay them to play their crap game.

  • RIP Nost. Was loving my vanilla enhance shammy and the community was great! Very supportive lots of lfg.

  • I actually found playing a bit of nost would make me appreciate the quality of life additions retail wow had. Without it now I just don’t have that urge to sub.

  • No matter what the fans think or rights, its still illegal… cause the server software has never released and was never sold. The fact that it exists outside of Blizzards (or business partners) servers is illegal.

  • WoW lost its way a long time ago.. and if blizz was worried about lost revenue, why not offer what these people want? Id sub again for that.

    I love my druid, warrior and shaman to pieces and have fond memories of them. But its just that.. they died in TBC and non of the xpacks could save them or the fond memories of raiding.

    • ^This… In the face of slow by steady decline of users, they will need to look outside the box to keep their revenue going, why not at least test legacy servers out for 3 months and see what the reception is like?

  • Blizzard lost me after WOTLK, i stopped raiding and just PVP’ed, now the game just sucks so bad, all the differences between classes are pretty much gone and the diversity in spec’s are just as bad. I would prefer to pay for a game l want to play than one l don’t enjoy. Vanilla servers aren’t perfect and the players are people who don’t want to play your shitty version and play a classic that vanilla raiders enjoyed so much. If you don’t want to host a vanilla server then let someone who does to please the people, because l am not coming back to retail. And l think many people agree.

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