Very little solid information on this yet, that I can find, but Blizzard announced that they are going to be creating "Vanilla" servers. Many people have been asking for this for many years - especially as Blizzard have been fairly strict about trying to get "illegal" servers shut down - most notably some pretty big ones last year. The down side of "illegal" servers being generally that it was run by individuals that often couldn't maintain them, or ended up doing something that ended up causing them to be closed - often without warning.
Blizzardwatch posted the following not long after the announcement:
World of Warcraft Executive Producer J. Allen Brack just announced that Blizzard is working on World of Warcraft: Classic and it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s Vanilla servers. No date is given to when these classic servers will become live, or how they’re going to in Brack’s words “Give you the classic server experience without the launch problems.”
Classic servers have been something players have demanded since Cataclysm and now, Blizzard has finally committed to doing just that. The classic server option is as yet undefined — what’s going to be happening isn’t clear yet, but we know what it’s going to entail. The original World of Warcraft, the way it was when we all started it back in the day, but hopefully with as many seamless improvements as possible.
Welcome back to the Azeroth of 13 years ago. Welcome back to World of Warcraft: Classic.
A little more information (or non-information!) from wowhead regarding Classic:
What We Know So Far:
- Not too much information yet, but that's due to it being extremely early in the development stages.
- No release date yet
- No decisions on connections to live servers (i.e. will account-wide stuff be available, etc.)
- No decision on servers dedicated to expansions other than Vanilla WoW.
- No decisions made yet about which patch the server will exist during, or what (if any) patches will be implemented.
- They want it to be a "Blizzard-quality experience" which means a polished product.
- There was community involvement in the decision - directly (such as dungeon runs) and indirectly (general feedback.)
- They currently do have an internal, old build working that they can play around on.
- They are in the process of hiring new employees for this project, and have already hired for it.
Some Outstanding Concerns:
- What engine will the Classic Servers run on - i.e. 8.0 or 1.21?
- How will the talent system work? Which vanilla iteration?
- Will mounts dismount when swimming (and other QOL questions)
- How will respeccing work?
- What will the economy be like?
- Will WoW Tokens be allowed?
- How will players pay for WoW Classic?
- Will they be free if you have an active sub?
Sources for the above content:From Perc and Panser interviews:
Q: What was the breakthrough that finally allowed classic servers?
A: It's true, quite a difficult problem, but we're excited to work on it. It's still really early in the process so we can't answer too many questions about it yet.
Q: What was the deciding factor on classic servers?
A: We're not the right people to ask but we're super excited! It's happening!
Q: Some stuff isn't in the game any more, will that stuff be obtainable on classic servers? Will it then be account wide?
A: We don't know, to be determined, we're not sure. It's super early at this point.
Q: Will there be classic servers for other expansions?
A: Not sure, TDB!
[12:00 am]WoW cinematic "WoW Classic"
[12:01 am]Annoucement of development of a Classic Server option. Authentic, Blizzard quality, classic experience but it's a larger undertaking.
Eurogamer.net interview with J. Allen Brack
I'll get a couple of questions out of the way here, which I suspect you can't answer. When is WOW Classic going live?
J. Allen Brack: We don't know yet. Just like every Blizzard game.
And I suppose you're not ready to talk, in any detail, about how it'll work?
J. Allen Brack: Some of the reason for why we're not ready to talk about that is... we actually don't know yet. The important announcement today was: we're doing this. We've heard the community, we've heard our own internal teams, we've heard all the comments over the years. When it comes to the details, we don't know all of the answers just yet. There's also the fact that now we've announced this, we might want to partner with the community on some of those answers. WOW changed a lot in the first two years, before The Burning Crusade came along, and so, how exactly should it work? Those are questions we need to talk about, for sure.
Am I right in thinking the Nostalrius team provided you with access to their build at some point?
J. Allen Brack: Yeah, they did. We did a dungeon run with some of the folks, it was an old school Scholomance run. It was interesting.
J. Allen Brack: Yes. That's part of the level 60 experience. Our goal is to recreate that classic 1-60 gameplay. Some things changed as time went on, with different patches. How does that get manifested? That's one of the outstanding questions. But yeah, the goal is to recreate that exact experience, for better or for worse
How far into this process are you? Do you have a build that you can actually play, internally, and figure some of this stuff out?
J. Allen Brack: We've got some infrastructure stuff in place. We've got an old build that's up and running that we're using for reference. Most of this job is going to be infrastructure: making sure everything can work on a more modern setup. Then there'll be the design questions, ones that the community will have strong opinions on: should UBRS be 10-person, or 5-person? Things like that.
J. Allen Brack: You've highlighted the big ones. Before we started work on this project, we couldn't actually run vanilla WOW. The hardware is different. The operating systems are different. There was no way for it to just work.
Are these going to be separate development teams? One working on Battle for Azeroth and one working on WOW Classic?
J. Allen Brack: Yeah, so it was really important for us to be able to answer the community honestly. How many raids is this going to cost them in Battle for Azeroth? The answer is zero. We're going to hire people specifically for this effort. We already are.
J. Allen Brack: This is a massive effort. This is a very, very significant effort. I would not expect it to be soon. We actually don't know when we're going to release it
Has Blizzard maintained a relationship with the people behind the unofficial legacy servers? I know the Nostalrius guys visited Blizzard at one point.
J. Allen Brack: We've talked to Daemon and Viper, the leads for that project, a handful of times since that visit.
Do you see them being more heavily involved in WOW Classic?
J. Allen Brack: We would welcome their involvement, for sure. I think one of the challenges is that they're both French and so there's a little bit of a visa concern, but we'd be open to it. They're very passionate and strong Blizzard fans, clearly.