Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 22, 2006
World of Warcraft nostalgia servers

April 1st, 2015 - Blizzard today announced that they would be offering nostalgia servers for World of Warcraft soon. On these servers the world of Azeroth would be initially limited to the continents and dungeons that were available when the game started 10 years ago, and the level would be capped at 60. After one year the content of the first expansion would then become available, raising the level cap to 70, followed by the other expansion sets in 6-month intervals. The Blizzard director of game development explained the reasons for this decision: "Players starting the game now were often complaining that the current level cap of 150 was too high, taking too long to reach the endgame raid content. Raid dungeons that were popular in 2005/2006, like the long forgotten Molten Core, are standing empty nowadays, because of the difficulties of getting 40 people between level 60 and 70 together. The nostalgia servers will bring back the good old days of World of Warcraft, for which many veterans have been clamoring."

Critics claim that the nostalgia servers are just a cheap way for Blizzard to regain customers that have been leaving World of Warcraft in droves. Subscription numbers are down to 10 million players, just half of what is was during the peak days of WoW. The recently released "10th anniversary" expansion didn't sell as well as expected. And many players complain that the land mass of Azeroth is now so huge that you could play for days without meeting other players. As every expansion increased the level cap by 10, up to 150 now, the number of players of any given level on a server is now so small, that it is hard to find groups. And many of the items added in the last couple of expansions are so powerful that they are now considered a must-have for PvP, with players complaining about the long grind necessary to collect them.

Content is king, but as every expansion added more content to World of Warcraft, after 10 years the game has grown too big. Veteran players are leaving because they got bored in spite of the new content, while new players are feeling lost in a too huge world, with a too long path to the top. Server populations have dropped, and Blizzard has yet to come up with a good way to combine servers. And although Blizzard has done some updates of the initial graphics engine, the graphics of World of Warcraft after 10 years look definitely dated. Players are flocking to newer online games, offering better graphics, and more up-to-date combat mechanisms. The times where World of Warcraft was the market leader are over, and it is questionable whether any game can be kept alive forever by adding regular expansions. Blizzard has high hopes that World of Warcraft 2: Ragnaros Returns, currently under development, will revive their flagging fortunes.

[Note: I got this press release from the future through my slightly blurry crystal ball, and had some problems reading the numbers. So the number of years until WoW's decline, as well as the number of players at peak might not be correct. Still the question remains how far you can extend the longevity of a game with expansion sets. Both Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot are currently offering servers where the attraction is that not all expansions are running on them.]
MC isn't forgotten -- I swear I saw an HD video of a level-150 archmage soloing it... in 25 minutes.
I LOL'd. Thank you for this Friday humor. God, can you believe UO is 10 years old, and EQ just went live with xpac number 12! I looked at new screenshots of UO over at F13 this week, and I was actually surprized at how bad they looked. I had really forgotten how dated things really have become.

I also was one of the people who fired up EQ to try out the Progression Server on day 1 and it was painful. The mechanics, gameplay and graphics are just old, and no amount of sugar coating can eer change that.
Thank for that very entertaining article Tobold. You'll probably get a few Google hits from people really looking for good old WOW like it used to be!!!

Mind you - just think about it. It is entirely possible that WOW could limp on for another 9 years. Just think about all the time that you will put into the game between now and then. Just think about the hours and hours that that that would entail. Seriously -just think about it. Get out now, that's all I can say, in a half joking but also half serious manner.
get out now ? are you my Master ?

stop the moral ! the judgement !

you already waste hours of your LIFE working for an enterprise which don't like you, or a boss who don't like you or for whatever which will be meaningless at your death

don't listen sad people. you have right to have fun with what you want and spend the time you want

you can play to one game for YEARS. why not ? some people did the same sport for tens years, other are chess-lovers for all the life, others it's boat.

of course, NOTHING force you to have only the video game in your life. what they are the people who judges others ? nothing force gamers to play 20 hours by weeks or 30 or 10.

everyone can have a rich social and professional work and have the little warcraft to play a few hours by week or as your want.

fun, passions, dedication are not the enemies of work, family,health. people need balance. they need to know what is the priorities in their life. and sometimes they need to have just fun, relaxation.

you are all judgemental because it's a video game, it's new, it's Hype, it's so frightening.
I say it has _nothing_ different with cards game, sports for fun or whatever things people were doing for centuries to balance their life.

>Just think about the hours and hours that that that would entail.
yeah, hours of play spend with freedom. what the problems ? you fear he will forget to buy a new videogame or to let the dog go out ? trust people. they are not all bad.
Dear anonymous,

Sometimes they need to have just fun, relaxation. Stop the moral. The judgement.

Bravo. Great post.
Oops. My post was intended to be light hearted - I guess it didn't come across as such. Unfortunately I do not have Tobold's consumate writing skills. Apologies if I upset anyone.

However (and I hope I don't regret this) I would like to comment on the argument sometimes made that "fans spend as much time on other hobbies such as football, golf, chess, whatever....". I really don't think this is true. Even casual MOMORPG players are putting 30 hours a week into their game - hardcore players much more. I cannot think of any other hobby that demands so much time for so little reward.
I dunno, I play something else if I find it unrewarding for more than a few minutes. This is probably why I've never reached a high level, but the tradeoff is I always know I can log in and enjoy myself.

I can't believe 30 hours a week is now considered casual. This is just absurd. Casual *gamer* maybe, because unless those people are spending 40 or 60 hours a week playing games they are missing out on everything else. This stuff is no longer a small or trivial part of our culture. It's the golden age of the most vibrant artform we've seen since Hollywood dumped the studio system. If you're going to mass up a renaissance it had better be for something you love very intensely.

If you're not feeling rewarded, play something else for goodness sake. World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere, but there are other games that might not be around in a few years. Some of them are better.
Being a long long time player of EQ who recently came to WoW (playing EQ since Beta4 until March of this year), it was somewhat disheartening to realize that this will probably be true at some point. Despite being tongue in cheek, the fact that the world and level spread have gotten too big was a massive issue in EQ.

Will WoW be there at some point? Mmmm, could be....
Excellent post! I fully anticipate seeing one *exactly* like it in what, oh, say 10 years?

only a couple of years out for WoW Classic announcement - impressive :)
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