Now there's a piece of news I didn't expect to see in my newsfeed this morning: Blizzard is getting Nostalrius shut down. Of course they have every right to do so and I do think that everyone who makes the decision to roll on a private server has to be prepared for that kind of thing to happen sooner or later, but it's still kind of surprising to see it happen at this precise moment and to Nostalrius in particular, mostly because unlike other private server projects that don't hide the fact that they enjoy making money off their work by integrating cash shops into the game and the like, Nost prided itself in being a non-profit work of love.
On the other hand, in some ways I'm not surprised at all. Nostalrius was increasingly becoming bad PR for Blizzard. When you've previously claimed that nobody really wants Vanilla servers, a single one of such servers boasting 800,000 accounts and 150,000 active players looks kind of awkward. That's the population of an entire niche MMO right there, on a single private server! Plus, Nostalrius players were absolute zealots. They were everywhere and they were passionate. If I had a penny for every YouTube comment I've seen that urged people to start playing on Nostalrius... I would have a not insignificant amount of money. They were genuine too, not just advertising for the sake of it. I remember the commenter who said that in five days of playing on Nostalrius he had made more friends than he's made in retail WoW in the past five years, or the one who compared all the achievements of his level hundred character to his poor Vanilla alt, whose bags were always full and who couldn't afford a mount, and who elaborated on why he loved the latter so much more.
"Nostalrius" had become shorthand for "playing classic WoW on a private server". The other day I even saw someone link to an article in a print magazine that referenced it. A YouTuber I follow and who played on Nostalrius commented that before his Twitch stream got shut down the other day, his Nost stream had risen to fourth place among the most popular World of Warcraft streams. Basically, Nostalrius and its community were really good at promoting their cause - in fact, they were too good at it. I don't think Blizzard decided to issue them with a shutdown notice because of financial concerns. They know that those players won't love them for it. But Nostalrius was making a point of making live WoW look bad and the mainstream was starting to take notice. I can see why they couldn't let that stand.
For all the forum wars and "my server is better than yours" sniping I've seen over time (even in my own comment section!), I genuinely feel for all the Nostalrius players who lost their home today. We are united in our love for the game that once was and is no more. Here's hoping that they may find a new home, whether it's on Kronos, a different private realm or in a different game altogether.
The Nost team, ever so optimistic and proving themselves to be fans to the end, actually started a petition for official classic server support to submit to Mike Morhaine. I'm fairly certain that it will be completely ignored. Blizzard pride themselves in their polish and in their expertise when it comes to what's (supposedly) fun and what isn't. Lending any sort of credence to the idea of classic servers would mean admitting that - just maybe - not everything they've done with World of Warcraft over the past ten years was a good idea and that actually, they did make it worse in some respects. That would be unacceptable. Those of us who loved previous iterations of the game and have felt lost in the last few expansions are just like a clingy ex to Blizzard that can't let go, long after the company has got over us and moved on to new pastures/customers.