Classic Servers: Another Developer “Gets It.”

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Private servers are a very stingy subject in the gaming press. Many developers don’t like to acknowledge them and, honestly, there is at least one of my contacts who will never return my emails after this article just for the act of referencing their existence. MMO Fallout does not condone private servers, nor do we allow them to be advertised in our comments section. I like to think that private servers can be an important tool for developers to gauge their audience’s expectations, however. Private servers that exist simply to cheat, to bypass a subscription, or gain accelerated experience/items will always exist, and those don’t offer much of a lesson outside of that some gamers are unwilling to invest the time or money.

As more developers are realizing, however, there is a great opportunity in classic servers. Jagex has not only maintained the original RuneScape Classic, but launched a version of 2007 RuneScape that remains updated thanks solely to the majority vote of its community. Sony Online Entertainment has, for a long time now, dabbled in classic and progression servers for Everquest. Ragnarok Online launched a classic server back in 2012, and NCSoft recently announced a classic server for Lineage II, at least the Korean version.

There are a million legitimate reasons why a developer wouldn’t want to create their own classic servers. A classic server would need some form of monetization, where a cash shop would risk driving away the target audience and a subscription would put the server in competition with those same private servers that operate for free. The developer could, however, capitalize on this very issue. A dedicated developer could offer stability and quality where many classic servers are at risk of shutting down at moment’s notice, operate on inferior server infrastructure, and are partially hand-built by the operator due to the inaccessible nature of certain MMO mechanics (server side operations).

Other developers refuse to create a classic server on the grounds that doing so would compromise their “artistic vision,” a belief that MMOs change with time and that introducing a classic server would be counter to that vision, or an admission that they made the wrong choice somewhere down the line. Further developers cite an unwillingness to risk splitting the community in half.

Happily, it appears that more developers are recognizing the potential for classic servers or those with alternate rulesets.

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