First off: Yes, I am planning on going to BlizzCon! Mr. Moxie and I normally go to the beach or something for vacation (if we take one), but we wanted to do something different this year. We were debating about various locations, but I realized that BlizzCon is something that I’ve always wanted to go to, plus it’s close to Disneyland, AND I’ve never been to the west coast or a game convention. So BlizzCon it is! We don’t have any guildies that are planning on going at the moment, so it’ll just be the two of us. That’s okay in my book – we’ll have freedom to come and go and hit just the sessions that we’re interested in. Still, if you’re reading this and planning on going, let me know! I’d love to meet folks!
On to the main topic… private servers and Nostalrius’ imminent demise. Honestly, I totally understand why people play on private servers. It still breaks my heart when I go to old favorite zones like Darkshore and Ashenvale and they’ve been ripped apart by the Cataclysm updates. They don’t feel the same, and I don’t like the new versions at all, so much so that I no longer level alts through that content. The fact of the matter is that if I want to go back to those places to level alts and experience the nostalgia, I can’t unless I go to a private (vanilla) server. I don’t play on private servers for ethical reasons, but I understand why some people do.
On one hand, I feel that Nostalrius wasn’t competing directly with Blizzard for a couple of reasons. First, the experience on Nostalrius is not offered by Blizzard at this time. Until Blizz opens vanilla servers, there is no real competition. Second, the majority of people that play on Nostalrius are not going to sub to retail just because the private server isn’t available. They aren’t interested in the current version of WoW. Third, Nostalrius wasn’t actually making a profit… people could play for free and could provide optional donations. They were barely making enough to keep the server going.
On the other hand, I used to work in the intellectual property industry. One of the unspoken rules of IP is that if you want to protect your IP, you have to defend it, at least some of the time. If you have registered intellectual property but never actually defend it, it may as well not be yours. Most companies pick and choose their battles. Fan art, homemade crafts, and the like is usually skimmed over, but blatant usage of intellectual property to provide services similar to the owner, or to give the impression that they are the owner or an affiliated company, are typically pursued swiftly and aggressively. From that point of view, I can totally see why Blizzard works to shut down private servers.
In all honesty, the answer is for Blizzard to open a vanilla server. One vanilla server. Set it up with the last update before TBC launched, and then let it ride, no further updates. I think demand would be huge to start with, but over time population would stabilize and it would be a home for a small hardcore vanilla fanbase and a revolving group of tourists that just want to pop in for the occasional nostalgia. It would also be a historical point as well, so that gamers that started in Cataclysm or later can experience the game’s roots. Blizzard has of course said no to this in the past, but to be honest, they’ve said no on a lot of other things before that have since come into fruition. It make take a while, but I would be willing to bet money that this will happen at some point in the future.