Over the years video game developer Blizzard Entertainment has published many popular game titles, including World of Warcraft (WoW).
First released in 2004, the multiplayer online role-playing game has been a massive success. It holds the record for the most popular MMORPG in history, with over 100 million subscribers.
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While the current game looks entirely different from its first release, there are many nostalgic gamers who still enjoy the earlier editions. Unfortunately, however, they can’t play them. At least not legally.
The only option WoW fans have is to go to unauthorized fan projects which recreate the early gaming experience, such as Light’s Hope.
“We are what’s known as a ‘Legacy Server’ project for World of Warcraft, which seeks to emulate the experience of playing the game in its earliest iterations, including advancing through early expansions,” the project explains.
“If you’ve ever wanted to see what World of Warcraft was like back in 2004 then this is the place to be. Our goal is to maintain the same feel and structure as the realms back then while maintaining an open platform for development and operation.”
In recent years the project has captured the hearts of tens of thousands of die-hard WoW fans. At the time of writing, the most popular realm has more than 6,000 people playing from all over the world. Blizzard, however, is less excited.
The company has asked the developer platform GitHub to remove the code repository published by Light’s Hope. Blizzard’s notice targets several SQL databases stating that the layout and structure is nearly identical to the early WoW databases.
“The LightsHope spell table has identical layout and typically identical field names as the table from early WoW. We use database tables to represent game data, like spells, in WoW,” Blizzard writes.
“In our code, we use .sql files to represent the data layout of each table […]. MaNGOS, the platform off of which Light’s Hope appears to be built, uses a similar structure. The LightsHope spell_template table matches almost exactly the layout and field names of early WoW client database tables.”
This takedown notice had some effect, as people now see a “repository unavailable due to DMCA takedown” message when they access it in their browser.
While this may slow down development temporarily, it appears that the server itself is still running just fine. There were some downtime reports earlier this week, but it’s unknown whether that was related.
In addition to the GitHub repository, the official Twitter account was also suspended recently.
TorrentFreak contacted both Blizzard and Light’s Hope earlier this week for a comment on the situation. At the time of publication, we haven’t heard back.
Blizzard’s takedown notice comes just weeks after several organizations and gaming fans asked the US Copyright Office to make a DMCA circumvention exemption for “abandoned” games, including older versions of popular MMORPGs.
While it’s possible that such an exemption is granted in the future, it’s unlikely to apply to the public at large. The more likely scenario is that it would permit libraries, researchers, and museums to operate servers for these abandoned games.