As World of Warcraft has aged, its veteran playerbase has grown increasingly nostalgic of what it considers the “golden age” of the MMO genre, back in the 2004 to 2008 period when the game was fresh and exciting. With the presence of incredible demand to return to those days, a handful of developers have invested time into replicating the early WoW experience through server emulation.
The popularity of legacy servers has been deemed a problem by Blizzard, who sees their free-to-play access as a threat to its currently monetized subscriber base. It has routinely threatened legal action against development teams that publish legacy servers, such was the case this week with the long-awaited debut of “Felmyst”.
Felmyst was a server built to emulate the Burning Crusade era of WoW, a period that many players consider one of the best in the genre’s history. The server was in production for more than four years, and debuted this week amidst great excitement and anticipation.
However, the show was soon cut short. Within a day of launch, Blizzard delivered a cease and desist letter to the development team of Felmyst, threatening a lawsuit. Hearts sank across the community after the news was made public.
With that, fans who desire to relive their early memories are left with few to no options, and hope fades for a day where the early structure of WoW can be enjoyed without fear of losing progress from the server being shut down.
A Reddit user by the name awake283 shared:
At this point I just feel sad. Sad that it didn’t even last a day, sad that once again hype has led to letdown, sad that Gummy has an illness, sad that he spent so much time on something with no success, sad that Blizzard thinks this is an appropriate response, sad that Blizzard doesn’t understand what we want, sad that there’s so much bickering and arguing in this community…. I’m just sad.
Discussion regarding official legacy servers hosted by Blizzard has been brought up in a multitude of occasions, but management has stated on numerous occasions that such a move isn’t feasible, particularly due to technical challenges and the fear that legacy servers could undermine the team’s efforts to continue building the game with new patches and expansions.
On the topic, Vanilla WoW team lead Merk Kern, who has been supportive of Legacy servers following his departure from Blizzard, said the following:
Blizzard spends more on legal fees shutting down servers than it would cost to put up their own Vanilla WOW server.
This battle isn’t going away, and as long as there’s demand, legacy servers will continue to crop up. Whether or not Blizzard wants to tap into that demand is yet to be determined.