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Blizzard caught some tempestuous ire from the gaming community over the shutdown of the private server Nostalrius. Despite the server operating illegally, according to Blizzard, the popularity of the server caused the company to revisit the idea of a vanilla server and talks have commenced with the Nostalrius server operators.
Gamerant is reporting that Blizzard has returned to the table to talk to the Nostalrius crew by having them flown out to the headquarters in Irvine, California. According to the article, one of the volunteer operators of Nostalrius, named Daemon, explained the following...
We are very excited to be able to help Blizzard understand the part of their community asking for legacy servers and many other related topics, in the hope that they will eventually make it possible to legally play previous game expansions.
This does not mean that a vanilla server is coming, nor does it mean that Nostalrius is making a return. What this does mean is that Blizzard is actively looking into and talking about rekindling the idea of bringing back a vanilla server for the nearly million people who registered to play Nostalrius.
Just a few weeks ago Blizzard had shutdown the World of Warcraft server as a way to protect their IP. They made it known they didn't have a choice in the shutdown as per the standards and requirements centering around IP protection laws. However, in a post made on the forums, executive producer on World of Warcraft, J. Allen Brack, had confirmed that they were in talks with the Nostalrius operators and were planning on having ongoing conversations with the crew.
The post from Brack also mentioned that officially operated vanilla servers would be rather difficult for the Blizzard team to pull off, which did not sit well with the rest of the World of Warcraft community.
According to the Gamerant article, the Nostalrius crew spent the better part of five years reconstructing the vanilla servers for World of Warcraft in their spare time as a side project. The whole thing exploded in popularity when it released in February during early 2015. Over the course of the year they acquired 800,000 registered users, and had a regular active user pool of more than 150,000 players, which is extremely impressive for an unadvertised private server.
Gamers were so intent on keeping the vanilla dreams alive for Nostalrius, they petitioned Blizzard to at least (re)consider their stance on vanilla servers for the game. The petition gained more than 250,000 signatures, and a video was put together by a former developer on World of Warcraft, Mark Kern, asking for the company to reconsider their position.
Well, Blizzard is reconsidering their position and at least talking with the Nostalrius crew.
However, keep in mind that talks do not equate to action. Blizzard could be assessing the potential of a vanilla server but it doesn't mean it's going to happen. Brack did mention that they were dicussing the possibilities of a “Pristine Realm” but majority of the community did not want the removal of boosting and bonuses, but simply a return of the vanilla gameplay from the original World of Warcraft. We'll see where the company goes from here.