Blizzard has broken radio silence on the closure of custom vanilla WoW server Nostalrius. The server hosts were issued a cease and desist that took the server down on April 10. Despite a 200,000 strong petition meant to be personally delivered by former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern, Blizzard's decision is apparently final.
The news comes from a forum post in which a Blizzard employee explains the main justification is (surprise surprise) copyright infringement:
"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. 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."
The post also states that Blizzard doesn't consider hosting vanilla servers to be an option, citing "tremendous operational challenges" as an obstacle despite internal enthusiasm for the idea. However, there might still be some hope for players looking for an experience closer to the original WoW:
"So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a “pristine realm”. In essence that would turn off all leveling acceleration including character transfers, heirloom gear, character boosts, Recruit-A-Friend bonuses, WoW Token, and access to cross realm zones, as well as group finder. 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.
"One other note—we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks."
That's far from anything concrete, but it's good to see that Blizzard is discussing the possibility of providing something for those that lost out when Notalrius was squashed, devs and players alike. It remains to be seen how the community will respond—when we spoke to players inside the server, paying for a similar experience didn't seem popular. There's also the wider community as a whole to consider. Complaints about Blizzard using dev time to appease a "vocal minority" are already filling the forum page.
Whatever Blizzard does, it'll at least be informed by player input. Would you like to see the game focus on expanding the new, or accommodating the old?
Update: The report originally referred to Mark Kern as "Mark Kernwhich," and indicated he was one of the people behind the vanilla WoW server Nostalrius. It has been corrected.