WoW Vanilla Server Petition Hits Over 200,000 Signatures, Mark Kern’s Thoughts

Last week we reported on the private server group Nostalrius being shut down when Activision Blizzard pressed legal action against the group for hosting a server capable of playing what some have said to be the best World of Warcraft experience available, after years of expansion releases and game updates that pushed the original player base further and further away.

Last week, the petition just pushed over 64,000 signatures. Now, the petition stands at 214,780 signatures, a stunning gesture of support for the once great product. Mark Kern, who was the Team Lead of World of Warcraft at Launch, but departed Blizzard in 2006, was nice enough to comment on some questions we had about the fan support.

How do you feel about the 214,000 signatures that have amassed in support of Nostalrius Servers?

The Nostalrius petition to bring back legacy servers has reached nearly 204,000 signatures and shows no signs of stopping. It gained 100,000 new signatures in the past five days alone. This is not just a movement, is a phenomenon. I’m so happy to see the WoW community come together over this. So many people have told me “It’s like how the old WoW community used to feel like!”

My feeling is this, if Blizzard will change Tracer’s pose for one single fan, why not bring legacy servers back for 200,000?

What are your feeling about the dismissive nature of those who want vanilla servers?

I don’t know why some people are against bringing back legacy or progression servers. The way I see it, it takes nothing away from current WoW. The people who want legacy servers aren’t Blizzard’s current customers, they are the 5M customer who left WoW because they don’t like the current version. It will only grow the entire audience and benefit both types of players.

What do you think the estimated cost would be to set up and operate said server?

Things have gotten much cheaper to run than it used to cost. Nostalrius was able to host 150,000 active accounts for less than $1000/month. With Blizzard resources and economy of scale on bandwidth and datacenter pricing, it should be even cheaper for Blizzard to do the same.

Do you think this would be a profitable operation?

Very much so. WoW was designed for 1M accounts, or 450k active subscriptions and be profitable. If Nostalrius, with no name, no official license, and no marketing can register 850k accounts, I assure you that at least 2M will re-sub with Blizzard resources. And WoW could really use another 2M subs, that would easily be 30-50% more than what they have now since they dropped below 5M. These players would play both. They would play the new content for new WoW when it comes out, and they would go back and play the progression servers in the meantime.

It should be noted that Activision Blizzard no longer list their active subscribers.

Do you feel fans where dismissed arrogantly, has Blizzard lost touch with its fans?

So the famous quote by that Blizzard dev (sorry, he was after vanilla WoW and I don’t recall who he is), said “You think you do but you don’t” to a fan who asked if he could have legacy servers again. This is unfortunate. I believe he might have said it without any ill intent, but as soon as the community interpreted it as a slight, Blizzard should have clarified it immediately. Instead they remained silent, and silent on the Nostalrius issue, so now we have a PR problem. That was a mistake for them.

How do you feel Blizzard can de-escalate or smooth over the disenfranchised nature of their customers, which they lost. Do they need to?

I think they do, because Blizzard is an amazing brand. But I’ve been surprised at so many people telling me that Blizzard doesn’t care about them anymore. Blizzard should see this petition as great opportunity to turn that around. They don’t even have to say “yes,” they just have to say “we’re listening.”

We would like to thank Mark Kern for giving us some insight on this issue. Currently the petition is 85,220 short of its 300,000 signature goal which is a formidable goal for any project. But at its current pace, it is feasible that Nostalrius will hit or surpass this goal by next week.

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