Alongside the announcement of a new World of Warcraft expansion at Blizzcon today, Blizzard Entertainment revealed that it will be launching its own classic World of Warcraft server at some point in the future.
A 'vanilla' version of World of Warcraft is something that longtime players of the game have been requesting for years. A classic server would offer those players a way to experience the game as it was in 2004, before expansions and updates permanently altered both the landscape and content of the game itself.
There have been numerous fan attempts to create such a server in the past, many of which have been met with threats of legal action from Blizzard since such running such a project requires, among other things, unauthorized use of Blizzard's IP and reverse-engineered source code.
One of the more infamous attempts at doing so was the private vanilla server Nostalrius, which shut down in 2016 after Blizzard threatened to take them to court over copyright infringement. At the time, Nostalrius representatives said that over 150,000 actively played on the unofficial classic server.
The latest effort to do so was the fan-project Elysium (which was born out of that shuttered Nostalrius fan server), but that project itself shut down in mid-October following its own internal management complications.
Other online games like RuneScape have already taken to maintaining an official classic server for nostalgic fans. In that case, RuneScape developer Jagex says that maintaining both classic and modern versions of the game is something that helps it meet the desires of its community.
Blizzard has not announced when the server will go live, saying only that it is currently in development.