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The Future of Classic WoW

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World of Warcraft's classic server launch is right around the corner, and being true to my nature I'm already analyzing its inevitable future.


I'm hesitant to jump in and play for a variety of reasons. I was one of the no-lifer first to hit 60, first to clear the raid, play all day and have no life weirdos who played from 2004-Scourge. I know what awaits.

I won't bury the lead further. I'm worried about what Blizzard will do with the servers once phase 6 of classic deployment is done. I already saw their statement that at this time they have no plans for a BC or WotLK server. Classic is classic. 

So what happens in two years? Does WoW stay forever stuck in the classic era? 

That wouldn't make much sense, right? Surely people would quit. 

But then think about what would happen if they progressed the servers. You'd be right back at square one with the classic people wanting that classic experience back. The community backlash wasn't over there being no BC or WotLK server. People wanted CLASSIC!

If Classic WoW progressed into Burning Crusade, we would be right back to people going to the emulated servers seeking that experience again.

I believe that what most people want more than just the classic era is a fresh start, the only feelings they had back then, and to 'experience' it once more. It's temporary. Its fleeting. It can't be a permanent feeling. It's no different than other games' progression servers. They have a shelf life. It's basically when they progress to the part of the game you didn't want to play anymore. 

So how is this solved? 

Seasons like Diablo?

Indefinite number of new servers spinning up to rekindle launch day every two years like EverQuest does?

The eventual "alternate ruleset" to keep things interesting?

I fear that all roads lead to an inevitable split in the community -- a split beyond what they're already getting by launching a classic server anyway.

So as you can see, my hesitations and misgivings about Classic WoW's future are entirely unrelated to whether or not it would be fun, or good, or any of those subjective opinions. I'm left feeling like I have no desire to invest time into the unknown. I'm also worried that there isn't even a solution to this problem that would please me.

  • Overthinking much? It’s just a game. Play it, enjoy, stop when you’re bored with it. I plan on subbing for a month. I don’t expect to play for the whole of that. Blizzard will take metrics and course correct to go where the money is. Not our problem.

    • The future of the servers feels very much like my problem. I stopped playing betas because I hated getting attached to a character that would meet with an inevitable demise. Before playing Classic, I would want to know what the future would hold for a character I build so that I can go in with the right mindset — let’s be real, mindset is a HUGE part of MMO enjoyment, and having the wrong one taints the experience faster than anything else. Do I plan for that character to be a temporary experience similar to a Diablo season character? Do I plan for the servers to progress, knowing I would stop at a specific expansion?

      I don’t think it’s overthinking to want answers to those questions, and to express my concern of the unknown.

  • It would be nice if they could replay through the expansions but with the ‘classic’ experience. By which I mean: no dungeon finder, no LFR, keeping levels of spells, keeping spec trees, meaningful threat, mana regen concerns. I think the problem isn’t so much one of nostalgia and dislike of content, its that the game mechanics have been so homogenised into blandness.

    • You introduce another big issue that Classic will face, should the devs decide to progress the game through expansions. All roads lead to modern WoW. I would be VERY shocked if Blizzard ever said, “we’re going to split this development into a separate game where we take away the list of things people didn’t like about how we developed WoW.”

  • Just play it. Give it an honest shot so you can at least figure out if it’s the nostalgia that is intriguing, or if the game really is that good and still stands up to the test of time. As a blogger who talks about game systems so much, i think you owe it to yourself and your viewers to at least give the game a shot, if only to dissect it and try to figure out why it was so good, and if it’s still as good as we remember it. if the game pulls you in the way i hope it will, then you’ll be having too much fun to care about all the other non-game related issues you raised here.

  • My I-have-no-real-knowledge guess: Classic will be just popular enough to justify creation of Burning Crusade servers. People will be given the choice of continuing their Classic character into the BC server, or staying back in the frozen-in-time Classic servers. If both types stay popular, then maybe they continue along to other expansions.

  • What should happen is they have Classic servers, BC servers, Wrath servers, etc. If you want to experience progression, you can pay to transfer your character or copy your character or roll a new character on the next server in the progression. When you get tired of playing BFA and you’re pining for the days of classic, just switch. Done with classic and want to experience BC now? Copy your character to the BC server and try that out for a while, etc. They could also have a series of progressions servers like EQ had done. I think it would be cool if they had a mix of both of those. The player base is large enough to support all kinds of server rulesets and eras of WoW.

    Personally, I am looking forward to classic WoW because I want a world to explore with challenging leveling content again. It’s my favorite part of the game and I am tired of the lead-by-the-nose daily wack-a-mole checklist mini-game BS that WoW has evolved into. It’s fine for what it is, but is less and less an RPG every expansion. I think it’s time to swing the pendulum back the other way a bit. I am hoping Blizzard learns a bit from this experience what made MMORPGs so compelling back in the day and incorporates some of that into the next expansions. Not sure if that will happen though.

  • If anything, you should play it for the first month or two as it will be the hot thing and will provide plenty of blogging material for you during that time.

  • I just hope that if Classic is successful it will have some impact on the future development of the game. I do not like what WoW has become.

    I’m also someone who earlier this year was still playing EverQuest TLPs so I’m probably not the target demographic. But I will hold onto my hope regardless.

  • I don’t think it has to go anywhere else. Classic is what people wanted, Classic is what they’re giving. I expect it to stay the same forever, and that’s okay. Blizzard will make a profit off the venture and it costs them virtually nothing to leave the “lights on”, so to speak, so people can enjoy Classic WoW for many years to come as they want.

  • Going Night Elf Hunter on Grobbulous (RP-PVP) Server. Think you are overthinking it Keen. Jump in like you would with a EQ progression server.

  • Hello, I am quite late to comment, but you raise very good questions. What is classic WoW, just the first 60 levels? I would argue that TBC was the climax, the opening of the dark portal, the ever-controversial flying mounts. It was a phase of continued massive growth. Many say WotLK was the best WoW ever, but in that phase the all time high was reached, only being marginally higher than it was in TBC.
    It went down with Cataclysm, to spike back with WoD, only to nose dive more than ever before quickly, to the point of no longer releasing subscriber numbers. I played Classic, TBC, returned after years in Warlords and loved Legion. The other expansions… didn’t care, they didn’t keep me subscribed. Guess WoW for me was all about fighting the Burning Legion.
    I am not sure if many people who said they want Classic back will love it for a very long time again. Many have families by now, you can’t turn back time, and I seriously doubt if the often lacking mechanics of old are what made the experience so much fun.
    I also doubt if this will be bringing back Blizzard’s game design mojo. I don’t want old WoW back, I want the creative copycat company back that picked up good games/ideas and made them oh so much better.
    I am looking for a renaissance of the MMO genre other than the current crop of loot shooters. Let’s see, maybe they will evolve into something palatable. But I am afraid Blizzard-Activision won’t be the company to elevate that genre to the next level.
    So yeah, what happens to WoW Classic when classic players reached level 60 and raided somewhat. We should not forget that most quit before or soon after, while all the buzz was about raids, it didn’t become accessible and popular with the masses right away. That took a while, finally ending in the dungeon and raid finder system. I think Blizzard is running the servers on modern hardware, so they shouldn’t have trouble re-using them for something else.
    The number of classic servers will go down, in my opinion rather quickly. But they will serve as useful reminder to figure out what they did decades ago to maybe do it again with a new MMO.