This morning, Blizzard’s executives finally spoke out about their decision to shut down the World of Warcraft fan server Nostalrius, writing that there was “no clear legal path” to both protect their intellectual property and allow an unofficial server to keep running.

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“Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was?” wrote World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack on the battle.net forums. “The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers.”

The statement comes after several weeks of petitions and requests that Blizzard reverse their decision to shut down Nostalrius. Fans had been speaking out since the creators of Nostalrius announced earlier this month that Blizzard’s lawyers had asked them to take everything down. On April 10, the server said goodbye.

Unofficial World of Warcraft servers are common, but Nostalrius was particularly popular because it ran a “vanilla” version of the popular MMORPG—specifically, version 1.12, which was the last update before World of Warcraft’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Nostalrius’s creators said it had around 150,000 active users before Blizzard forced it to shut down.

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Blizzard says they’ve looked into running their own classic World of Warcraft servers but ultimately determined that keeping them updated would require “tremendous operational challenges.” You can read Brack’s full statement here:

We wanted to let you know that we’ve been closely following the Nostalrius discussion and we appreciate your constructive thoughts and suggestions.

Our silence on this subject definitely doesn’t reflect our level of engagement and passion around this topic. We hear you. Many of us across Blizzard and the WoW Dev team have been passionate players ever since classic WoW. In fact, I personally work at Blizzard because of my love for classic WoW.

We have been discussing classic servers for years - it’s a topic every BlizzCon - and especially over the past few weeks. From active internal team discussions to after-hours meetings with leadership, this subject has been highly debated. Some of our current thoughts:

Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And while we’ve looked into the possibility – there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard’s IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server.

We explored options for developing classic servers and none could be executed without great difficulty. If we could push a button and all of this would be created, we would. However, there are tremendous operational challenges to integrating classic servers, not to mention the ongoing support of multiple live versions for every aspect of WoW.

So what can we do to capture that nostalgia of when WoW first launched? Over the years we have talked about a “pristine realm”. In essence that would turn off all leveling acceleration including character transfers, heirloom gear, character boosts, Recruit-A-Friend bonuses, WoW Token, and access to cross realm zones, as well as group finder. We aren’t sure whether this version of a clean slate is something that would appeal to the community and it’s still an open topic of discussion.

One other note - we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks.

You, the Blizzard community, are the most dedicated, passionate players out there. We thank you for your constructive thoughts and suggestions. We are listening.