Update December 5, 2016: The world's largest vanilla World of Warcraft server will return on December 17, provided by the Elysium Project.
You can start the cease and desist countdown on December 17, because Nostalrius will be back online. The Elysium Project released the below trailer/machinima for the return of Nostalrius. They're using the same server code and database that Nostalrius used until it was shut down earlier this year, so any characters have transferred over. Their stress tests also reached 10,000 concurrent players over the past couple of weeks.
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For those that don't plan to take part themselves (Legion's rather good if you want to scratch a generic WoW itch), how Blizzard respond will be most interesting. This revival was triggered by Blizzard's initial enthusiasm for the project not leading to immediate results. They announced before BlizzCon that they wouldn't be discussing legacy servers there, which lead some to believe it wasn't something they were treating as a priority. Given the blue lawyers already shut the project down once, how long this one can survive is up for debate.
Their first chance for an official response would be during the livestreamed Q&A happening on Wednesday with game director Ion Hazzikostas. It's not the usual place for that sort of thing, however, and they're not exactly going to talk legal action or want to bring information about legacy servers to an audience of casual players who may not have heard of it before.
Update November 7, 2016: with no update on official legacy servers from BlizzCon this weekend, the Nostalrius team have confirmed that, with the help of another legacy project, they will relaunch a server for vanilla World of Warcraft.
The team behind Nostalrius, once the world's biggest private WoW server and a place where the World of Warcraft existed as it did in 2004, are preparing to make good on their promise to restore a vanilla server if Blizzard failed to announce an official version at BlizzCon this weekend.
The news was confirmed on Reddit by Suzerain_Elysium, representing another Legacy project which the original Nostalrius team entrusted with their source code. Suzerain says:
“Elysium will now proudly revive and continue what began a year and a half ago. We will be gratefully accepting the core and player database of Nostalrius. This means that Nostalrius, exactly as you know it, will be returning."
In a blog post on the official Nostalrius forum, admin Viper discussed the circumstances surrounding the handover, and the Nostalrius team's frustration with Blizzard's apparent lack of commitment to official legacy servers.
Nostalrius handed over their code to Elysium because the two teams claim to be united on three core values: to provide players with the best server possible, that their work should be born purely from a love of the game, and that they absolutely refuse to profit from it.
There's no word yet as to when Nostalrius will re-launch, but Suzerain promises another announcement this coming weekend. An ask-me-anything event will also be held on Sunday, November 13, at 9pm server time. (Elysium's server time appears to be two hours behind UK time.) Head here if you'd like to participate/watch.
The Elysium team are passionate about their project and determined to see it through. Responding to the question “what will you do if you get a cease and desist letter from Blizzard?”, Suzerain replied: “We will politely decline their request.”
Them's fighting words.
Update October 24, 2016: Blizzard have responded to the buzz around a potential legacy server announcement during BlizzCon, ruling it out completely and calling the bluff of the Nostalrius mods.
Following the warning from the Nostalrius team earlier (contained in the original story below), Blizzard have taken to the MMO-Champion forums to put rumours to rest, saying not to expect an announcement on vanilla servers at this time.
One of Blizzard's community managers posted the following quote from Blizzard producer Allen Brack: "We’ve seen some talk among the community that you might be expecting to hear some news on legacy servers at BlizzCon, and we just wanted to take a moment to let you know that while we’re still discussing the possibility, we won’t have any updates to share on that until after the show.
"These past few months we’ve been laser-focused on the launch of Legion and getting Patch 7.1: Return to Karazhan ready to go (it’s almost here!), as well as prepping for BlizzCon - which is always a huge undertaking itself. You’ve heard us say that the launch of Legion was just the beginning of the story we want to tell in this expansion. What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion."
That means it's up to the Nostalrius team to either make good on their promise to the community to make an announcement of their own - whatever that means - or to wait and see what the future brings.
Original Story October 24, 2016: Nostalrius was the world's biggest private WoW server and a place where Warcraft fans could live life like it was the good old days of vanilla WoW, before all the updates, Legion demons and everything else that's happened over the past decade. Unfortunately, Blizzard shut it down earlier in the year, as it wasn't exactly legal.
Following its closure, Blizzard met with the hosts of this sizeable sub-community, and everyone's hope was that we'd be seeing vanilla servers return in an official capacity. After all, over 300,000 players signed a petition asking for the servers to be kept alive.
Now, with BlizzCon looming, the community is hoping for a proper announcement during the November 4-5 event. The team at Nostalrius are trying to make the community stand out during Blizzard's convention, driving for them to wear t-shirts representing the cause, with all proceeds going to charity.
During that same post though, comes some ballsy intent: "If Blizzard doesn't make an announcement to honour their own core values, be sure that we will," says an admin. "In the end, pleasing the community is the ONLY thing which should matter."
So it seems like we could be seeing Nostalrius reborn if Blizzard don't announce anything official. Surely their lawyers will just nuke it from orbit again? Either way, it'll be interesting to see what's planned. We'll keep you updated.