Blizzard has discussed its decision to close down Nostalrius, an unauthorised World of Warcraft server running a vanilla version of its popular MMORPG, without any of the updates released in the years following the game's initial launch.
In a post on the World of Warcraft forum, community manager J. Allen Beck said the closure was necessary to "protect against intellectual property infringement" that would damage Blizzard's rights.
"We have been discussing classic servers for years -- it's a topic every BlizzCon -- and especially over the past few weeks," Brack said. "From active internal team discussions to after-hours meetings with leadership, this subject has been highly debated.
"While we've looked into the possibility [of supporting classic servers] there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard's IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server."
He added: "We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW."
Despite the decision to prevent unauthorised classic servers from running, Brack said that a new realm offering an experience in line with original World of Warcraft is "still an open topic of discussion."
"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 are''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."
Brack also emphasised that Blizzard's silence on the matter following the closure "definitely doesn't reflect our level of engagement and passion around this topic," and said it has been talking with Nostalrius' operators.
"They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks."
On April 7, the Nostalrius team said lawyers ordered their hosting company to cease and desist on behalf of Blizzard, and that they had less than a week to take the servers offline. In response the Nostalrius Begins PVP, Nostalrius Begins PVE, Nostalrius TBC servers were shut down.
The team said it would release the Nostalrius source code and anonymised players data to the community, providing its players with "everything needed in order to set up your own Nostalrius," but relinquishing ownership and operation of it.
Nostalrius was active for around a year and developed a community of 150,000 active players. A petition has been created asking Blizzard to support legacy servers in the World of Warcraft community.