World of Warcraft is undoubtedly one of the most widely known names in all of gaming. It's been such an influence and had such a presence in gaming that people who never even knew a thing about gaming somehow knew about World of Warcraft. Blizzard Entertainment, the company that started it all, recently brought down the wrath of copyright laws upon Nostalrius Begins, a private legacy server hosting vanilla World of Warcraft with hundreds of thousands of total players and 150,000 active players.
This outcome wasn't totally unexpected, as players on the server and the development team behind the server admitted. The private server is not on the good side of copyright laws, but Blizzard has had a reputation of being an upstanding company, never hesitating to communicate to their fans and improve the game experience for people. Private servers that didn't monetize or steal customers from the main World of Warcraft were usually deemed harmless and left alone, but it seems that Blizzard has had a change of heart.
Two days ago, the team behind Nostalrius received a letter of formal notice, threatening to take legal action against the team's hosting company and the developers. The notice demanded the team to shut down the server by the very next day, lest they be sued into the dirt by Blizzard Entertainment.
Nostalrius player Ohhgee shared a bittersweet message regarding the shutdown of the server:
Popular YouTube entertainer JonTron also spoke on the shutdown of the server, criticizing Blizzard for not allowing people to enjoy the old World of Warcraft.
When someone hosts or plays on a private server, especially one the size of Nostalrius, the thought that it may disappear one day always looms in the back of that player's mind. Although Blizzard is well within their legal right to do what they have done, one has to wonder why they've done this.
With recent expansions and major changes to World of Warcraft, starting with Cataclysm, then Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, monthly subscriptions have gone down drastically. Blizzard comes under constant scrutiny about splitting off from where they started, simplifying the game until it's easy enough for everyone, and breaking away from what brought in so many fans to begin with: necessary and meaningful group play, expertly-crafted stories and characters, and some of the most memorable dungeons and raids that people still fondly remember today.
Though Blizzard Entertainment is free to do what they wish with their intellectual property, a line was most certainly crossed here which says multiple things about the titan of a company: Blizzard Entertainment is not the same caring and passionate developer that made content based on players' wants and needs with their games years ago.
Yesterday marked the loss of Nostalrius and with it, over three million characters, 150,000 active players, and an honest team of 30 passionate volunteers who kept the server running all that time. May it rest in peace as the monthly subscriptions in World of Warcraft keep on dropping and fans' respect for Blizzard Entertainment continues to falter.