Blizzard Still Trying To Take Down WoW Vanilla Fan Servers While Refusing To Offer A Competing Product
from the no-fun-for-you dept
You will hopefully recall a post we did several years ago dealing with Blizzard’s decision to shut down a fan-run “vanilla” World of Warcraft server that stripped the game’s expansions out and let players play the game as it was originally released in 2004. As is so often the case in these kinds of disputes, we can at once stipulate that Blizzard was within its right to do this while still calling out whether it was the best decision it could make on the matter. The simple fact is that there were other avenues down which the company could travel other than threatening the fan-server into oblivion, such as working out a cheap licensing arrangement to make it official. The whole situation became all the more odd when you consider that Blizzard itself does not offer a competing experience with the fan-server, essentially ignoring what is clearly a desire within the fanbase for that kind of experience that Blizzard could monetize if it wanted. Instead, the fan-server shut itself down under the threat of a trademark lawsuit and Blizzard went on its merry way ignoring these customer desires.
Fast forward to today, some two years later, and it’s all happening again. Another fan-operated vanilla server, this one called Light’s Hope, is under attack from Blizzard for all the same reasons.
In recent years the project has captured the hearts of tens of thousands of die-hard WoW fans. At the time of writing, the most popular realm has more than 6,000 people playing from all over the world. Blizzard, however, is less excited.
The company has asked the developer platform GitHub to remove the code repository published by Light’s Hope. Blizzard’s notice targets several SQL databases stating that the layout and structure is nearly identical to the early WoW databases.
That, of course, is the entire point of the vanilla server. The very idea is to allow players to experience the roots of the massively popular online game. And it’s quite popular, too, with thousands of players playing this vanilla experience. If nothing else, this again should represent free market research and the uncovering of an entirely new and potentially lucrative market for Blizzard. It would be one thing if these takedowns were going on while coupled with statements from the company about its own competing service. But that’s not what’s happening. The takedowns happen and Blizzard ignores the market demands.
To be clear, again, Blizzard can do this. But, no matter the game of pretend its PR reps try to play, it certainly doesn’t have to do this. It could quite easily work something out with Light’s Hope to make it official and either monetize it directly or at least recognize that these types of fan projects do nothing but drive more interest and dollars towards the original product.
In the end, Blizzard comes off as anti-consumer and against its own passionate fan base. That’s not a good look.