Many World of Warcraft fans miss the old vanilla days of the game. This has spurred some die-hard players to recreate versions of the game that don't include all the expansions and updates, called legacy servers. Unfortunately, Blizzard is not a fan as it again has sent out a cease-and-desist to the user made Felmyst server team recreating the first expansion, The Burning Crusade.
The launch of the Felmyst server, spearheaded by user Gummy52, had been highly anticipated in the legacy WoW community. While many other Burning Crusade servers exist, this had been the highest profile because of its adherence to the way Blizzard's first expansion had played. Several thousand players had logged on in anticipation of the server's launch late last week, but no sooner was the server up, a Blizzard cease-and-desist letter had forced the server down five hours later (via ArsTechnica).
The crux of the C&D was in Felmyst "allow[ing] users to play altered and/or illegitimate copies of WoW online, without the need for a legitimately purchased copy or subscription... As you know, Blizzard has never authorized and, in fact, expressly prohibits the forgoing activity," the letter said. "Our client's copyrights are extremely valuable and Blizzard takes this matter very seriously," the letter continues. "As you can appreciate, your activity causes serious and irreparable injury to the value and integrity of our client's products and intellectual property."
The Felmyst site has since been taken down, except for a heartfelt note from Gummy52 and a short video of the C&D letter. There is also a follow-up post on reddit. Gummy knew that Blizzard was cracking down on legacy servers, but said he had so much time and effort invested in the project that he kept plodding ahead. He also announced that he had muscular dystrophy, which kept him on his current course rather than changing to something that would invite less scrutiny.
"The warning signs to expect notice from Blizzard were there but receiving it that quickly was something I don't think many expected," he said, but he kept working on it anyway, a move he says he doesn't regret.
"So why did I make this project? I love the game and community, especially the community," he said. "The old game was a great way to meet people and see new faces. It makes me happy, and programming makes me happy. Of course, I am sad that things didn't turn out the way I'd hoped but I don't think I'd change any of the decisions I made. I gambled that we could cap the servers at 3k and enjoy a close community. Sadly, I did not win that gamble, though on some level it was nice to see so many people eager to enjoy something I worked on. This project gave the last four years of my life a sense of purpose that I thoroughly enjoyed."
Fans have not been happy, but given the situation, you really can't blame Gummy, other than continuing to pursue a project that could have been shutdown at any time previous. Blizzard C&D'd the popular Nostalrius server in April of last year. Blizzard talked with the creators and even considered launching their own "pristine realm," but nothing came of it. The Nostalrius team eventually gave their code to the Elysium project, which has since launched a Nostalrius-style setup with as yet no repercussions from Blizzard.
While the situation is indeed frustrating, Blizzard's track record means that these type projects are undertaken at the creator's peril. You never know what will bring the eyes of corporate big brother on to the project, complete with C&D letters ready-made to go out on a moment's notice. Truth is you can only be lucky for so long. Popularity brings scrutiny, and while Blizzard like a rabid fan base, don't expect it to ever be happy with projects using their IP and assets.