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A few weeks ago one of the biggest private World of Warcraft servers, Nostalrius, was forced to close its doors after developer Blizzard threatened legal action.
Although Blizzard was, legally speaking, in the right, the company's refusal to bend the rules and allow Nostalrius -- a "vanilla" server with a reported 150,000 active users -- to remain online was seen as the wrong call by many.
In a letter of petition to Blizzard co-founder, Mike Morhaime, Nostalrius reps said their aim wasn't to siphon users away from World of Warcraft, but rather, to preserve the classic WoW experience and replicate the original game's gradual expansion.
While other developers weighed in on the issue, with Runescape creator Jagex suggesting that more companies need to be "brave enough" to commit to legacy servers, Blizzard remained tight lipped.
That was, until now, with the company finally breaking its silence on the Battle.net forums.
In a lengthy post from Blizzard's community manager, Nethaera, the studio moved to address fan concerns, offering more details as to why it chose to take legal action against the Nostalrius team.
"Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights," wrote Nethaera.
"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."
According to Nethaera, Blizzard has looked into the possibility of developing an official classic server, but logistical issues mean that, for the time being, it isn't going to happen.
"If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would," continues the post. "However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW."
That being said, Blizzard did float the idea of a "pristine realm," which would be a purer experience, stripped of shortcuts such as leveling acceleration, character transfers, character boosts, heirloom gear.
"What can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a 'pristine realm,' […] although we aren’t sure whether this version of a clean slate is something that would appeal to the community and it’s still an open topic of discussion."