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Ex-World of Warcraft dev Mark Kern explains why Blizzard should open vanilla servers

Ex-World of Warcraft dev Mark Kern explains why Blizzard should open vanilla servers

Posted time: Apr 20,2016

Last week the private vanilla World of Warcraft server Nostalrius closed its doors following legal action from Blizzard. Since the closure, old-school WoW fans have put their weight behind a petition to convince Blizzard that launching official legacy servers would be worth their while.


Ex-World of Warcraft developer Mark Kern joined the debate and got behind the petition stating that if it received enough support he would take it to Mike Morhaime.


We caught up with Mark to find out why he thinks Blizzard should be seriously looking at opening World of Warcraft legacy servers.


PC Invasion: It’s understandable that Blizzard wants private servers closed down, it’s always been their policy, so why do you think there’s been a push now for an older version of WoW.

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Mark Kern: First, Blizzard has every legal right to shut down these servers, it’s true. They also have an interest in protecting their business, and I can’t fault them for that. But what I can say, is that I feel Blizzard could have handled the matter much better. In a time where gamers and developers can be so connected with each other in social media and the net, companies need to form strong communities and fandom. I would ask Blizzard to take a look at Nostalrius’s team and what they did out of pure passion, not greed, but passion, and find a way to acknowledge that. I think it’s possible, you can look at the way Valve treats fan projects and ends up hiring these teams and making great products with them. Valve channels gamer passion very well, and Blizzard could look to that as a potential model.


As for the demand, I think it’s always been there. 10 years is a long time for a game and for gamers, and as it stands today there is no way to play the original version of WoW or even TBC or WotLK versions of the mechanics. It’s like a whole new game. I think we’ve seen a huge number of gamers that are now saying “we want this, we want to experience this again.” Yes, it’s nostalgia, but its more than that…many veteran MMO players want to feel that challenge again, without the automation and the hand-holding. They want to feel that sense of accomplishment again when the modern version of WoW doesn’t give that to them. That’s what I’m hearing from WoW fans.


PCI: Do you think there will be enough support for vanilla servers from the community? There were 800K registered accounts on Nostalrius but only 150,000 active players.


MK: Let’s put that in perspective. When we planned World of Warcraft, we only expected 1M sold and 500k active. And yet..and yet that was enough to bet the whole company on making WoW. It was the most expensive game Blizzard had ever made, and a huge risk. And yet, we would have been happy with 1M accounts back then. So I don’t understand this talk about 850k account not being worthwhile. That’s bunk. And you know what? With Blizzard officially behind legacy servers, you would see far more than 1M account re-activations. If a relatively unknown private server can reach 850k, then think what putting the Blizzard name behind it could do…far, far more.


As for 150k active, my understanding is that was measured over a 10 day window. The industry standard for measuring active is 30 days. I bet the 30 day number is higher, but even at 150k, during vanilla WoW we only expected around 450k active subscribers, and it would have been a huge success. Nostalrius is not that far off from what would have been a home run for us at the time. Of course, we ended up doing much, much more than that, but I’m talking about what we would have been thrilled with in the beginning and been very profitable.  World of Warcraft gold online store - igxe.com


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