The Trouble With Private Servers

I said in my previous post that I've repeatedly lost my lustre for levelling characters at around level 30 and that I was hopeful that this wouldn't happen with my druid, but it seems that fate has conspired against me.

A few days ago a commenter asked what I thought of the "recent development with Elysium". I had no idea what he was talking about so I had to go look it up first. As it turned out, the server had shut down pretty much overnight ... again. This time it had nothing to do with Blizzard though, and everything with the unregulated and drama-prone environment in which private servers operate.

I remember when I first started doing research on private Vanilla WoW servers, I came across this video by dodgykebaab on an event he called the "Molt Down". The story was about a private server called Molten, one of whose contributors decided to steal some money as well as the server's character database. I was strongly reminded of this as I pieced together the Elysium story from various reddit threads.

Oh sure, the details are different. Here it's two of the previous server owners who are being accused of stealing money and selling gold. This is used to paint the database thief as a sort of rebel hero... but the result is the same. The old server is gone and you're supposed to go somewhere else, where your characters and account still exist because hey, the guy literally took everything with him when he left.

I knew going in that you can't rely on these servers to be stable. However, I guess my time on Kronos lulled me into a false sense of security. The people running that have always come across about as professional as it gets in these circles, and I suppose it makes sense seeing how they are part of a larger collective and open about taking money for certain things. That sort of environment fosters a certain sense of professionalism.

However, most of the private server scene is and remains a Wild West. How can it be anything else when they operate outside of the law and there is real money to be made? Sure, there are good people who volunteer their time for free and genuinely just want Vanilla WoW to survive as a hobby, but it only takes one bad apple giving in to the temptation of money or power to ruin it for everyone who plays on that server.

At least for now, my enthusiasm has been deflated. It doesn't look good for Elysium as they're frantically scrambling to restore some semblance of their community with month-old database backups yet haven't made any visible progress in days. Meanwhile, the rival server is up and running already, and all it takes to join in is a quick edit of the realmlist.wtf file.

I've said before that I try not to let this sort of drama affect me too much. As someone who has been playing for free the entire time and was only really interested in levelling, without any competitive streak, what did it really matter to me if someone took money out of the donations account for private purchases or sold gold to a max-level character? I'm not saying it's right, but it's the sort of thing I wouldn't even notice or know about if I was just playing the game and not reading reddit. However, someone stealing my account data to set up a rival server? Somehow, that feels oddly personal and I find it really off-putting, leaving me with no desire whatsoever to play on the new server, even if it now has my previously created characters on it. If only Kronos had a PvE option...