Blizzard speaks! Here it is.
The ‘pristine server’ sounds like the Blizzard guys wanted to offer SOME sort of positive solution to this issue instead of a PR with just bad news that the community doesn’t want to hear. Blizzard knows pristine servers isn’t what people want, but Blizzard wasn’t going to make a PR statement without something.
Twitter sends mail to your mailbox when someone mentions you on twitter. Mike Kern, apparently, has been mentioning me on Twitter. Mike Kern was the former Blizzard developer who has, lately, been very vocal on this subject. Since I was born and raised before the Internet, I try to spend most of my time outside it. I stay away from social media like a plague, and I half-ass update this blog. Hey, this site has been around for nearly ten years. Most things on the Internet do not last that long.
I know you can link the tweet images and all, but I’m just going to copy and paste what is being sent into my email. Here is what Mike Kern is saying:
Most game developers and even ex-developers have a low profile. Usually, they are probably too busy. When I see one so vocal about something, someone trying to sign petitions and all, I begin to go “Hmmm…..” This issue also entails a pirated server which, by everyone agrees, was right to be shut down. Most game developers I know are pissed off that used game sales even exist. What I’m seeing is people anxious to brush aside the pirate server issue so they can swing a bat at Blizzard for the issue of vanilla servers. I just find it unusual behavior for a dev or ex-dev to be doing this. But hey, maybe in social media this is more common, and I haven’t been aware of it.
Wouldn’t the tech support costs only grow with time? Vanilla WoW is ten years old. In other words, Vanilla WoW was designed to work on the majority of computers ten years ago. But computers today are not ten years old. Computers today are present or a few years old. Blizzard games tend to be very hardware orientated. How would Vanilla WoW perform, for the mainstream of users (not pirate players who are very savvy), on modern Windows 10, modern Direct X, modern GPUs and processors? And as time goes on, Vanilla WoW will be fifteen years old and then twenty years old. Wouldn’t the technical costs only grow with time? I don’t think WoW issues can be as easily solved with a DOSbox type emulator.
I dislike how realism is being taken away from the discussion. Even if all lights were green to launch a Vanilla WoW, it would not be done because Blizzard is months away from launching Legion expansion. Imagine if I demanded Nintendo launch a retro game console right now despite them being months away from talking about NX. Everyone would think me insane. Realistically, Blizzard would only launch a Vanilla Server at a DIFFERENT time than a WoW expansion. The best time would be the time between expansions. The WoW playerbase would go to Vanilla instead of some other MMO before returning to WoW.
One possibility could be to simply port all the content of Vanilla WoW, complete with the rule sets, to the current engine. There would be UI changes, of course, but anyone who played Vanilla WoW knows that the UI sucked and everyone used mods for their UI. Remember, it isn’t the game engine of Vanilla WoW we want, it is the content and experience. You don’t see Ultima 7 players pissed off about using EXULT, do you? No, they’re ecstatic that it exists.
Looking at Mike Kern’s twitter feed, it’s clear he keeps framing it as ‘This would be profitable, they would have no reason not to do this.’ What many people don’t know with business is that the goal isn’t actually profit, it is customers. If you are a salesman making sales but telling the customer the wrong thing, you’ll be canned. Since Vanilla WoW cannot have content updates, what exactly is the upside in making customers with this? The entire reason why Burning Crusade exists is because Vanilla WoW, by itself, cannot hold customers for very long.
The question should be not to frame Vanilla WoW to be profitable but how Vanilla WoW can LONGTERM create more customers. With this in mind, a more interesting solution presents itself.
I like the idea of a Parallel WoW or Instanced WoW. Since WoW’s launch, the dungeons and raids are instanced. You walk into a dungeon and the dungeon is literally created just for your party. No one else on the outside can enter that dungeon unless they join your party. The same goes for raids. With Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard did instanced quests. So why not an Instanced WoW? You speak to Chromie or some NPC, and you have the option to transport back in time to Vanilla WoW. In this Vanilla WoW, you start a new character that plays just in that universe set by Vanilla’s rules. Perhaps guilds would be universal over both. I’m sure there are technical issues why this is problematic, but I think an Instanced WoW would work best for the goal of creating customers. There would only be one WoW version then. Vanilla WoW universe would work great as a content patch during the doldrums of an expansion. It also would allow Blizzard to update the character models as well as reuse old ones. It’s a win, win situation limited perhaps by the technology at the moment.