Official Vanilla World of Warcraft Servers Announced During BlizzCon 2017
Yes, you did read the title of my article right. It’s no joke, Blizzard did officially announce that they will host their own vanilla/classic servers in the future. In other words, you will be able to go home, to experience the good old days of World of Warcraft. Do you want to go home? Yeah, “You think you do, but you don’t!” is the Blizzard motto of the past. The new motto is “Your favorite flavour is vanilla!“. Yep, I repeat myself, but how can you not with such a news. Blizzard will do it, vanilla officially gets a come back! The legacy WoW community did it, we showed demand, and now it’s happening.
Ok, now we know that Blizzard will create official vanilla World of Warcraft servers, but how will they do it and how much is known so far? It’s currently not known when it will happen, and there are also not much many other details. But why is it happening now? According to pcgamer, Blizzard’s senior vice president and executive producer, J. Allen Brack said:
“This is something that we have just continued to hear from the community. This is something that we’ve continued to hear from current players, from former players, from people who work on World of Warcraft, even people working at Blizzard who are like, hey, you should find a way.”
Brack also said that they have been aware of the desire, but that they simply couldn’t find a way to do it. It was a technical problem, because they would have to run two version of World of Warcraft, the modern and the classic version. He mentioned the modern WoW is very different to the classic WoW also from a technical perspective. The problem goes deeper to the surface, down to the very base-level programming and hardware that Vanilla World of Warcraft used back in 2003. To run alternative classic servers, they would need an entirely separate server and client architecture, both different to the modern version of WoW. Brack also said that they made a breakthrough:
“We think we have a way to run the Classic servers on the modern technical infrastructure. The infrastructure is how we spin up instances and continents, how the database works. It’s those core fundamental pieces, and running two MMOs of that size is a daunting problem. But now we think we have a way to have the old WoW version work on the modern infrastructure and feel really good.”
But using the modern infrastucture doesn’t mean that the classic servers will have the same features as the modern version. There won’t be a cross-realm feature, also no LFR, dungeon finder or automatic party matchmaking. Brack says they are committed to recreat an authentic Vanilla World of Warcraft experience without all the modern features that the legacy community dislikes.
“One of the tenets of Classic WoW is none of the cross-server realms and different [server] sharding options that we have available to us today. There’s a lot of desire on part of the community that this is something that they don’t want.”
There will be an entirely separate team at Blizzard that only works on the classic realms. They work separately to the teams that work on the current game and its coming expansions. They didn’t announce when it will happen nor are there any more details about it. But Brack said:
“What we’re announcing is actually extremely limited. We’re only saying that we’re doing it, that we’re committed to creating and releasing Classic servers. It’s a larger endeavor than people might imagine, but that we’re committed to doing it and we’re excited.”
It’s somehow funny that Brack did announce the news about the classic servers, because when a fan asked the question in the past if they ever thought about running classic servers, Brack said back then, “You think you do, but you don’t” and everyone thought he meant that people just don’t want to play classic again even if they think so. Of course that would be wrong, there is a really large fanbase that prefers the good old WoW, and they don’t like the modern version as much. Including me. Now Brack said to pcgamer:
“The sentiment of what I was trying to express, very poorly back in that day, was that there is a thing called rose-colored glasses. There is a memory of this place, the time, and the stage of life that you were in that contribute to that nostalgia people feel [towards Classic World of Warcraft]. If you look back at all the things you have deep love for, you have to look at, OK, that was the thing, but what contributed to that being a thing?”
It’s interesting, with this news everyone will now probably wonder how this will turn out for Blizzard. Will millions of former World of Warcraft players come back? Or will many people try the classic server to eventually go back to the modern version because they realize it was much more hardcore back then? You could think that they will shut the classic servers down again in case the classic severs will have a low population after a while. But as it seems, this might not happen because it looks more like a prestige project, they want to preserve gaming history. They really want to have the old WoW online again as it seems, no matter if millions or just ten people will make use of it. They are aware that some people will love it and stay, and others will be like “tourists” to experience the old WoW again for some days to eventually go back to the modern WoW again. Brack has an answer here too:
“I think there will be a lot of tourists. But it doesn’t matter what I think because once we’re committed to doing this at a Blizzard level, which we are, whatever happens is going to happen. If millions of people show up and play for years, that’s awesome. And if just tens of people show up and play for years, we’re fine either way. What’s important to us is that we have this Classic experience people can enjoy, that people do have the opportunity to go back to. This is an important game in videogame history and there’s not a way to go back and experience that today. This is also about preserving something that we think is really important.”
So, yeah, they are pretty serious about it as it seems. It’s finally happening. It’s a bit ironic, because a friend and me got this idea years ago. We didn’t saw it coming, but it was more that we said “Imagine Blizzard would create alternative realms where you could experience classic, maybe even Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King?”. As said, we didn’t saw it coming, it was just one idea we had in our mind too. It’s not the first time we got some ideas that actually came true years later. When that happened, we often laughted and said “They should hire us as game development consultant!”.
Now let me set something in stone, maybe I can laugh about it in a few years too. I stay with the idea. Classic servers are already a great news, but it’s not just about classic. The journey from classic through the Burning Crusade expansion to Wrath of Lich King was awesome too. The early expansions were all great. The direction was so different, the whole experience was in my opinion so much better. There was a point where they completely changed the direction, the point where everyone I knew slowly stopped to play the game. It would be fun if Blizzard would set up a server where they let you experience classic World of Warcraft, but where they also enable the Burdning Crusade expansion after one or two years, and then Wrath of the Lich King and so on. Basically a server that repeats the whole story, a progression classic server. Now let me publish my post, but it would be funny if I come back in a few years and this idea came true. That would be awesome.