I know that I’ve spoken about the legacy server discussion a bit on Battletagged (episode 12 to be precise, if you want to hear it!) but I thought a post was in order as well because this topic won’t go away!!!
TL;DR version is this: A group of people hosted a legacy version of World of Warcraft on their own servers, which they named Nostalrius. Blizzard told them to take the servers down, which they did, but it has flared up the debate about whether or not legacy servers should exist.
Now this is a very dumbed down version of the overall conversation, because it’s not entirely just a case of whether or not legacy servers should exist. What gets dragged in to the conversation is whether or not this is worth Blizzard’s time and effort to build; what do people think they’re going to get from a legacy server; are there enough people who want this?; and the BIG one – whether or not people should have to pay for it.
As of today, two big things have happened. Firstly, Blizzard addressed the “Nostalrius situation”, which you can read here. This is one of a handful of occasions that Blizzard has openly talked about legacy/vanilla servers in any sort of depth. Secondly, Blizzard have invited the Nostalrius team to the Blizzard offices to “have a discussion”. I will say, I am disappointed that Blizzard invited the Nost team to their offices at this time – not because I don’t want them to have the conversation, but because at this point in time it looks like caving in to the tantrum-throwing toddler. Whilst the Nost team leaders themselves may have been fine, many supporters of legacy servers (including users who have openly said they played on Nostalrius) have been less than mature about the topic, with offensive, abusive messages littered through the WoW community such as on offical forums, reddit threads, twitter, and through direct targeting of individuals (the abuse that Panser has received from these supporters is absolutely disgusting). I would like to have seen the Nost team either tell everyone to pull their heads in, or distance themselves from these types of people before Blizzard agreed to meet with them.
This post is about a survey that the Nostalrius team have asked World of Warcraft players of all types (legacy server supporters or not) to complete, the results of which will be taken with them to their meeting with Blizzard. Here’s how it’s being pitched:
We want this survey to be shared with the largest possible audience: former Nostalrius players, legacy players in general, but also anyone who played World of Warcraft at some point or signed the petition.
– from Nostalrius offical forums http://forum.nostalrius.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=44103
Goal of this survey is to provide feedback from the World of Warcraft community as a whole.
– from the survey itself
So essentially, they want as many World of Warcraft players to complete the survey. No worries – I am all for that!
Regardless of what my opinion on the topic of legacy servers is, I was keen to be able to contribute to what I was hoping was a balanced, open minded attempt at providing feedback. But it’s not. The survey is full of questions so leading that I had to stop filling out the survey because there was no way for me the accurately and honestly answer some of the questions. In addition to that, it’s so easy for this survey to “down vote” opposing opinions that it is very far removed from a balanced indication of player thoughts on the topic.
Let’s take a look:
First page is very straight forward – age, gender, location in the world, how long you’ve been playing WoW and how you rate each expansion. Sounds straight forward, but here we have the first example of being able to boost support for old content and downgrade support for current content. Whilst we are asked which expansions we have played, we are able to provide a ranking of all expansions. So if I were a person who wanted to push support for older content and downgrade newer content, I could give ratings of 10 to vanilla and BC and 1 to Cataclysm, MoP & Warlords of Draenor, regardless of whether or not I played them.
The next series of questions are for people who have played on Legacy servers and why they did so. I did not answer any of these questions as I have never played on a legacy server. However again, there was a question that made this section a bit leading. The section covers how long users have played on legacy servers for, which expansions they played on them and reasons why they did so. But then comes this question:
Did playing unofficial legacy server bring you (back) to official Blizzard Wow?
The response is Yes or No. The problem with this question is that it’s trying to give the result “people who played legacy servers were encouraged to play official WoW”. What it doesn’t capture is how many people left official WoW entirely to play legacy servers. The distinction is important, because if people left WoW to play free legacy servers, well that’s a different point altogether.
The next series of questions are about the World of Warcraft experience. Although there could have been better questions asked here, it’s not overly problematic, so we’ll move on to the next section which is where I was prompted to write this post. The section is titled “If Blizzard launches legacy servers”. It’s here that I’ll point out that all questions in this section are compulsory (most of the previous questions (except for those on the first page) have been optional). Here we are asked if we would play on Legacy servers if they were free? Would we play them if they were more expensive than WoW (no question about whether or not we’d pay the same as current WoW prices).
But it was this question that got me cross:
If needed, I would buy Legion to play on a Blizzard legacy servers *
If needed. The response to this question is True or False only. And this is where I stopped, because I can’t answer this question. I am an average World of Warcraft player and I am buying Legion because I enjoy the game and I want to know what happens next in the Azeroth story. I understand what they are trying to get at here – they are trying to show that if there were legacy servers, people would be willing to purchase current content to access them. It’s a nice statistic to throw out there. But how do I answer that question? As someone who is buying Legion because I enjoy WoW and isn’t invested in legacy servers, how do I answer this questions accurately? If I say “False” it boost numbers that support people don’t like current content. If I say “True” it lumps me in with a then falsified statement that loads of people would buy Legion “if only they had access to legacy servers”.
The following question (although broken) asks whether we would play on a legacy server if it required an active live subscription and if so, how long would you play on a legacy server for. (The question is broken because the second part is compulsory to answer, even if you said that no you would not play if it required an active live subscription, and there is no 0 option).
Up next we get asked:
Is it a good idea to have Blizzard legacy servers with players from multiple regions like Nostalrius? *
Having not played on a legacy server, I don’t know the answer to this. Yet it’s compulsory to answer. At least here you get the option to explain your answer.
Now we start getting in to the nitty gritty of what would be on these servers and how they would behave. We’re asked two questions that, as someone who has not been heavily involved in the ins and outs of legacy servers, I don’t understand, regarding timeframes of releasing content (I can only assume this is something that is referenced in legacy server groups? Doesn’t bode well for trying to get an honest and accurate response from all player types. And yes these questions are compulsory). Then we’re asked just how much we want legacy servers, or progressive legacy servers.
Up next we get to rate the importance of some aspects of WoW, all of which are compulsory. We’re asked to rank how important things like “Challenge” and “community/social aspect” are to us. But then we’re asked to rate how important “Realm-wide events and memories” are to us (as if that is something any game can just hand over to you with you putting any effort in to it). Next we rank the importance of “no pay-to-win”, which made me pause. Pay-to-win? Either that’s being thrown in for shits and giggles, or it has been included to imply that this is something that is currently in the game. The only thing I could think of as being “play-to-win” was the paid character boost…. that boosts you to 10 levels below maximum and gives you nothing other than that. That’s not winning. (And how do you “win” WoW anyway?!) Skipping a couple, the last ranking of importance is for “Abusers punished” which made me laugh like the cynical cow I am (oh the irony).
The last question on this page relates to server size, stating:
The original Blizzard legacy servers had around 1500 players cap. Nostalrius had often more than 13k online players. What should be the best cap for you? *
We are given a list of server sizes by number (e.g. 3000, 7500 etc.) as if people are sitting there counting how many people would be good to have on a server at a time. Surely a better response here would be to suggest a server size that is “Small country town – not a lot of people around / relatively busy -there are some people around / bustling busy city-like / holy crap is this a peak-hour train in Japan??!!
The last page of questions has a large focus on streaming (??); whether you will be going to Blizzcon (as a yes or no question – no acknowledgement of the multiple ways Blizzcon can be supported outside of attending the event itself); whether or not Legion and legacy servers can co-exist; a “pat yourself on the back” question about how you made your voice heard to support legacy servers (they missed the response of “I was an ass and went and harassed people”); and lastly, a free text section at the bottom if you have anything else to add.
Why do you care about a survey?
I know I am overly critical with this and that generally this post has been a boring ramble. But I really don’t like this kind of “research”. It’s misleading and is designed to tell only one side of the story, and I just get really frustrated by that. Whilst pro-legacy supporters have been given ample opportunity to promote their argument in this survey, those who are not in support of them or who are indifferent to them are given a 500 character limit free text box at the end of the survey. I think doing a survey to capture exactly what people would like from legacy servers is a really great idea – it’s a nice way to collate the information to present to Blizzard. But don’t present this as a “balanced opinion of WoW players”, because it’s not that. My voice is not captured here.
I don’t care one way or the other about legacy servers. If Blizzard are happy to have them and people want to play them, I am all for that – I want as many people as possible to love and play World of Warcraft! The reason this survey and the whole legacy server drama has frustrated me is how people have behaved – it’s toddler-like behaviour. And what I so very passionately don’t want to see is that behaviour validated. Which is why I don’t want there to be a survey out there claiming to have a open mind for everyone to complete when it is so very strongly biased to the one argument. I don’t want that to be the only answer that goes to Blizzard. I don’t want this survey to say that it “speaks for the WoW community” – my voice is not there, you do not speak for me. And I don’t want legacy servers to be implemented on the back of this behaviour and this attitude. I want proper discussions and grown up conversations about it, and decisions to be made from that. I know, Blizzard aren’t stupid and they’ll be able to see through crap. But also, Blizzard aren’t stupid and if there is potentially an opportunity for money to be made from here then they will probably go for that. Like I said, I would hate for a decision to be made without all sides of the discussion having been explored. There are people out there who are just as passionate about not having legacy servers as there are those supporting them.
What I would like to have seen is a survey written by someone who is not close to either side of the discussion so that all opinions could be captured. This survey doesn’t give people the opportunity to say why they may not want to see legacy servers brought out. This survey simply validates one opinion, and right now it’s the opinion of people who are throwing tantrums. And those are not my people. This survey is not my voice.