Classic Server Update

General Discussion
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10/28/2016 01:47 PMPosted by Draethen
Since many people mention cost being the factor as to why Blizz shouldn't do this, I see no one trying to refute the cost using fair and realistic numbers. So I decided to sit down and figure this up. First I needed to know a time reference for this. Since we're talking Vanilla I found that using numbers based on Blizzard released info would be most accurate. So I had to dig to find numbers based on what was available at the time.
An article from Sept. 2008 on Kotaku stated that the total expenditures for all realms for WoW had totaled 200 million globaly. This was an analyst report issued by Blizzard at that time. That's 4 years of WoW. A year after TBC was released. Which at that time had 213 US and 108 EU servers. That's 321 globally. (wowwiki source)

Since people like numbers...

Now, for simplicity, let's assume those 321 servers where there at launch. That equals $623,052 for 4 years per server, or $155,763 per server per year.

This cost would be considered all inclusive. Hardware purchase, software, labor, and other costs would be included in this.
$156,763/server is hard cost for a server per year average to be up to Blizz standards in 2008 numbers.

To acquire a specific number total of players that would play on Legacy servers is difficult to come by. You will have to estimate. You cannot get an arbitrary number by guessing. Using Nost figures alone, 150K active accounts at closing, would not lend to a fair accurate number either. There are quite a bit of mitigating factors that would alter the final number. Since we are talking about costs here, and the numbers associated with it specifically, it's important.
Most independent forums (Kronos, Nost, WoWWiki, etc) put an average number between 300-450k people. Seeing as how the petition had 300k signatures... This may be a believable number range. But what about those that do not play on private servers but would love the chance to do so? What about players returning for the sole purpose of playing the game they left years ago as it was then?? What about those that wouldn't want to play on an official server because it wouldn't be free? But why is 300k-450k a fair number? Math.
About 2% of active accounts now were active during Vanilla. Which means about 2 million accounts per recent released numbers. I'm counted among that group. Of all the players and friends I know that play almost all of them want to play vanilla again. There are many more that never did but want to. But I would say realistically .8 % of the player base would play. So, that puts the average number around 800,000 players by current numbers.
Now I also know that not everyone would stay. Many would miss the QoL changes that have been made. Miss flying. Miss numerous FPs. Miss this or miss that. Some may not even stay long after clearing MC. Historically speaking, 40% would most likely be this number. Considering 40% drops during MoP, content droughts, ebb and flow, etc...
This gives roughly 480,000 players that would play on Legacy servers if offered. That's why I say most forum numbers are about right. So let's continue...

With a low estimated 450k (versus 480k) players each paying a sub is $6,745,500 a month. (450k x $14.99) Let's go crazy and half that amount to count constant players not withstanding the 'ebb and flow'.
That's $3,372,750 a month in revenue.
It would be absurd to assume Blizz would only open ONE server. I think 4 servers (2xPvE and 2xPvP) would be more realistic to house the demand and player base. at the before mentioned cost of $156,763 per server per month times four servers...
$627,052 dollars a month in costs for all Legacy Servers.
With an ongoing population of 225,000 players each paying $14.99 in sub fees..
Minus the costs...

Blizz would net $2,745,698 a month. Or $32,948,376 annually.

Ok but what if 300k played?

$1,621,448 a month. Or $19,457,376 annually.

Math is kinda cool. Just thought I would share.


A simple forecast, where the bottom line appears to be within the ball park.

I trust Blizzard's finance department, with access to updated cost data and player base figures, can produce a more detailed an accurate forecast.

Unless there has been manipulation of reported figures, which your model is based off of, legacy servers should be a sound investment for Blizzard Entertainment.

I assume the CFO and CEO are working on a legacy project.
Honest question to Aehl, Choten, Studmuffyn and Fillyestra. The four of you have said numerous times that Nost's server was theft of Blizzards intellectual property and this is true.
You then use this as one of your reasons why there should be no legacy servers and that we pro legacy people are pirates.
My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"
In 2016 I would be extremely impressed if you could answer no to this, so this makes your "theft" arguments invalid.
My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"


Dont have to of downloaded some of it, music and movies you can stream, kinda like hulu, just your not paying for it. Id include this into the statement as its the same thing as downloading it.
11/02/2016 08:21 PMPosted by Chipotle
Honest question to Aehl, Choten, Studmuffyn and Fillyestra. The four of you have said numerous times that Nost's server was theft of Blizzards intellectual property and this is true.
You then use this as one of your reasons why there should be no legacy servers and that we pro legacy people are pirates.
My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"
In 2016 I would be extremely impressed if you could answer no to this, so this makes your "theft" arguments invalid.


I have never said that, the only thing I said is the first part, Nost and any private server are theft of Blizzard's IP, that's it.

Not once have I said there shouldn't be legacy servers.
You then use this as one of your reasons why there should be no legacy servers and that we pro legacy people are pirates.


You, no, them, yes.

My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"


No.

I have been getting freeware, have a load of stuff from Sourceforge (again freeware) and have always been a fan of indie devs - I even have my own copy of Open Office for letters etc...again freeware.

I dont need to download movies as I can get DVDs cheap, and then watch them on my computer, dont need to download music as I have all I want on dvd or cd.

And of course there's Youtube :) Games?: https://www.gog.com and STEAM. 100% legal.

So the answer is: no.
11/02/2016 09:55 PMPosted by Aehl


My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"


No.



LOL. If there's anyone actually still falling for your bull!@#$ this should be the last thing they need to read.
I've been playing WoW since 2005 myself. I really feel for the guys and girls who want a vanilla legacy server and blizzard keeps palming us aside telling us to wait longer or don't expect it.

It's a shame. WoW when they were developing it, they thought maybe 100,000 or less would play it. Their scope and ideals for the game were not in the big numbers. It was to be a fan MMO released for fans of warcraft.

It gained Millions of players in it's first year, completely blowing away blizzards expectations.

Blizzard I urge you, don't leave us empty handed. We are your most loyal and devoted fans who have probably being playing your games since Warcraft 1 / Diablo / Starcraft days. Most other companies who are much smaller have dedicated servers for their older clients because they know it was and is successful and necessary (Note worthy examples being Everquest and Runescape).

I really feel if ultimately down the road, if you let these fans down, you'll really be upsetting lots and lots of people who deep down just want to play and want to enjoy the original game you guys made.
LOL. If there's anyone actually still falling for your bull!@#$ this should be the last thing they need to read.


GOG
Steam
Sourceforge

Dont need or like movies, dont even have a TV.
11/02/2016 08:21 PMPosted by Chipotle
Honest question to Aehl, Choten, Studmuffyn and Fillyestra. The four of you have said numerous times that Nost's server was theft of Blizzards intellectual property and this is true.
You then use this as one of your reasons why there should be no legacy servers and that we pro legacy people are pirates.
My question is, "have any of you ever downloaded a song, a movie, a game or program you did not pay for?"
In 2016 I would be extremely impressed if you could answer no to this, so this makes your "theft" arguments invalid.


Actually, I don't really care about private servers. I've played on private servers for other MMOs in the past (UO, SWG) and honestly don't care what people do. I just like poking fun at how attention starved Nost is.
11/02/2016 02:44 PMPosted by Aehl
This is the inevitable outcome if blizzard does not release a classic version, and there's nothing wrong with this.


To you, perhaps..to me its a case of you dont get what you want, so its okay to steal it. Theft is theft and just because its software doesnt make it any less so.

Are you committing a crime by playing on one of these servers? Probably not. Are you condoning and encouraging theft of IP because the games company wont give you what you want?

Two wrongs dont make a right.

I actually made a post regarding possible revenue regarding Legacy servers a few days ago on this thread. While it won't be absolutely concrete, I believe it is a fair estimate.


Draethan

I went back and read it and yeah...some good figures in there. But with respect youve missed a few things....the servers are part of the equation but not the sum total.

Youve missed things like infrastructure, staffing, equipment. EBITDA (anyone who is in business knows what this is and how important it is), hardware , utilities, HR budgets, custom design software..your figures are good but IMO you've lowballed it, since you missed a lot of overhead costs.

I could try and run up some estimates..but dont know enough to actually come up with accurate figures.

A startup I worked with had an annual cost with a staff of twelve of four million dollars, and that also included phone switching equipment, bandwidth.....thats also 2008 numbers...what about now....what would the costs be now. I will confess I dont know but Id say that 2-4 million as initial cost would not be out of place.

Four servers may be approx 8 million....thats based on a lot of variables.

From your post

I think 4 servers (2xPvE and 2xPvP) would be more realistic to house the demand and player base


Agreed. This would be an ideal setup.

Are private servers illegal? By American law, yes. Is it that way across the world? Yes.


Sorry but had to correct this: Copyright law is international in scope. Enforcement? Well thats up to the nations in question but yes, it is illegal worldwide.

There are international conventions signed as part of international law, as well as law written into mutual trade agreements to protect copyrighted materials belonging to the member nations, its called a reciprocal right.

The Berne Convention is a good example of this.

There's no guarantee in the world of business. For all we know, 7.2 could drop in a year and the game's population could explode to WotLK levels or it could plummet to just over a hundred thousand.


We agree. That, my friend, is why I am somewhat leery of the claims that "there is demand"..question is will that demand be sustainable.

Let's assume that only 100,000 people sub to play on legacy servers. That's 100,000 people paying $15 a month. That's $1,500,000 a month and $18,000,000 a year. Now imagine if it's double that amount or triple. Hell, legacy servers would cover the salaries of dozens of employees with JUST 100,000 subscribers.

I hope that answer is enough for you.


Ill think on this. Some good hard numbers and a good, solid reply.

Thank you.

There's plenty of ways to mitigate the chances of failure. Regardless, the cost of operating a server is not so ludicrously high that a $15 a month fee to play on it wouldn't cover the costs; as in, you only get access to legacy servers if you pay cash for your sub fee rather than tokens.


Oddly enough, its the other way around...the tokens cost more so the actual cash flow would be $20.00 per token rather than $15.00 sub per month.

Paying for legacy with tokens instead of subs as part of the set up........hmmmm.......

Lastly, re your ideas on "Progressive" I can see how that would work.

That's why it's called a gamble.


And I guess from my perspective, thats the guts of my issues with this...people are asking a company to take a huge leap of faith that could end up a money pit...and shrugging "so what they can afford it"..no they cant.

No one can.

It's very easy to shrug it off when it isnt your money on the line...were you an investor or shareholder and the company you invested in reported a huge loss over a gamble that didnt pay off...Id be asking some very sharp questions.

From a company POV, and from a CEO, and CFO's POV, the question will be the same.

"Is this an acceptable risk"

And that, folks, is what this boils down down to, and if Blizzard says no to legacy servers...that will be why.


Agreed. This is a good fair post. Also kinda wish there was a way to kinda scrunch this up a little smaller so it wouldn't take so much space when you try and quote something.
You can go on and on for days trying to justify whether it would be a success or a flop. Bottom line is no one knows, not even Blizzard.

However, people that are trying to prove it's going to be a success makes sense. They want it and they're trying to convince Blizzard to do it.

People that are trying to prove it's a bad idea doesn't; What's in it for you? No one's going to force you to play it nor pay for it. It would obviously have its own subscription fee and if you're not interested then good for you. But don't try to bring other people who want it down. You have no idea how sad and pathetic you sound. You used to rush in with your "Wall of No" whenever someone mentioned Vanilla. Then Nostalrius happened and Blizzard went from "NO" to "Oh $hit" and now they're considering it. And I love Nostalrius for doing that. So now you feel cheated, because Blizzard had changed their minds thanks to Nostalrius thowing your Wall of No, and most of your petty "rose tined glasses" & "nostalgia" arguments straight to the trash can.

---

Back to the point. I can't speak for anyone but myself. I know a lot of friends who were done with WoW since WoD. The game is no longer an MMORPG like it once was and it doesn't appeal to me nor my friends anymore. They're all on Vanilla private servers and they would gladly play a subscription fee if Blizzard released one.

The same goes to me. But trust me when I tell you people are already starting to give up on Blizzard because of their ego, carrot-on-a-stick methods and straight lying to their loyal fans faces "we don't have the code", then admitting they do when Nostalrius happened. If they released Vanilla years later, it would be too late. I'm sure a lot of us would have just given up at that point. The sooner Blizzard releases one, the better. And honestly there had never been a better time to do it. Everyone's been talking about it on Reddit, YouTube, Forums etc. The demand is clearly there and I hope Blizzard acts on it very soon before it's too late.
@Ornyx can you please press the Blizzard Finance Project Feasibility department around this opportunity of legacy servers, and if you feel courageous, the CFO. Love from the community.
10/28/2016 01:47 PMPosted by Draethen
An article from Sept. 2008 on Kotaku stated that the total expenditures for all realms for WoW had totaled 200 million globaly. This was an analyst report issued by Blizzard at that time. That's 4 years of WoW. A year after TBC was released. Which at that time had 213 US and 108 EU servers. That's 321 globally. (wowwiki source)

Since people like numbers...

Now, for simplicity, let's assume those 321 servers where there at launch. That equals $623,052 for 4 years per server, or $155,763 per server per year.

This cost would be considered all inclusive. Hardware purchase, software, labor, and other costs would be included in this.
$156,763/server is hard cost for a server per year average to be up to Blizz standards in 2008 numbers.


No offense, but this is terrible analysis.

Scaling out servers in this instance is like publishing a book. Most of the cost is in the first copy--all the author costs, the design, the layout, the print sourcing, print setup, etc. all has to be paid to get even one copy.

Once you've got one copy, getting additionals is simply the cost of materials and some small labor costs. To make publishing worth while, you have to get volume. You'll never make money selling one copy--or ten--because the price would be too high. You have to sell thousands.

The same is true of your Blizzard example above.

Each of those 321 servers did not cost the same amount. The vast bulk of the cost went into getting even one server stood up--all the art, the creative, the quest design, the actual software development, the network design, authentication, marketing, etc. All that had to be paid to launch that first server.

Those 320 other servers were way cheaper--simply the cost of hardware and labor.

Using the original $200 million number and your four server proposal (2 PvE, 2 PvP), you'd come out with $50 million per server startup, plus ongoing expenses for hardware and support.

Now, obviously it won't cost Blizzard $200 million to launch Vanilla again. All the art, and quest design, and lots and lots of stuff has already been paid for.

But there will be quite some millions of dollars required to get all that material updated, rescripted, tested, staffed, and launched. Budgeting conservatively, I would guess at least $20 million dollars to get it all up to Blizzard standards (vs. crappy private server quality) and in the Blizzard ecosystem. But that's just off the top of my head.

So $5 million per server.
Not $150k.

Your numbers are bad, man.
Just do it.

Or don't.

People have a funny way of getting what they want.

And with that they have demonstrated very clearly that be it legal or illegal people will find a way.

Blizzard can make money on this idea, or not.

But i absolutely guarantee that no matter how much money you throw at not making money....

There will be more. Always.

Figure it out, or we will

#Nost
bad decision. way to spread out the community and kill the game at the same time. waste of time and resources. I have seen many games fail when they attempt this type of stuff. good luck tho.
11/02/2016 04:06 PMPosted by Kamex

Yeah but it appears that EQ's population on Legacy servers are dying down...not that I can find a LOT of proof of this except very slow official forums, but what information I was able to find on said servers was that, at the very least SOME of them, was a ghost town in terms of population.
And the content hadn't even been released for two years yet- slightly more than one year in fact.


I had trouble finding definitive numbers past the 14 month mark, I know from a good friend of mine that it is still going well and she doesn't have a lack of anything to do. But from personal experience I cannot validate it.
11/03/2016 01:24 AMPosted by Falathrin
You can go on and on for days trying to justify whether it would be a success or a flop. Bottom line is no one knows, not even Blizzard.

However, people that are trying to prove it's going to be a success makes sense. They want it and they're trying to convince Blizzard to do it.


You heard it here folks, no one knows if it'll work or not, but the people in favor of it just make sense.

Yup. Totally not biased at all. Only your side makes sense.

Look at Nost's own numbers, the ones supporters like to brag about. It showed a retention rate of around 20%. It showed that under 6% ever got to max level. After a year. Most didn't make it out of the 30s.

Everyone(...including Blizzard) who've said people would play it for a bit and bail shortly? Nosts numbers shows that to be true.

You can't sit and trumpet about how Nost proves there's demand while only quoting accounts creating and how it was growing. It was growing because it was getting popular. People were coming in faster than people quit yes. But they weren't staying.

It will be a waste of money if most people show up and play for a month or two and quit. And Nosts numbers show that's what happens with most people. Data from the "supporting" side shows the arguments made against said servers are true.

You can't argue that there's demand. You have to argue there's demand from people who won't quit.
11/02/2016 04:42 PMPosted by Shadobolt
11/02/2016 03:41 PMPosted by Draethen
No one could possibly say if it would or wouldn't fail definitively. You could argue that EQ did it quite successfully (Legacy-type server at a higher $$ rate) and it had worked out great for them. I would even allow that into normal conversation regarding this topic, but it makes me uneasy doing so.


Blizzard has stated that subs are cyclical, and reported to it's shareholders that this is expected and sustainable.

We can extrapolate from this, that since even during WoD and MoP, since Blizzard last reported sub numbers were at approx. 5.5 million and that they currently have 514 Realms then, with economies of scale, 10,700 subs per realm make them sustainable, and actually profitable.

If 4 Realms for Vanilla were added, per EU and N/A clusters would those tasked with Customer Service, Bug Fixes, Routine Maintenance, but NOT development have enough resource time to also look after the 8 new Realms and their populations as well as the current 514 Realms.


This also came to mind. I believe the addition of 8 realms to a hearty 514 would not be a significant drain on resources in the terms of manpower, costs aside.
In reality, you do not have a team of 30 (random number) looking after 1 server. I'd say you have a team of like 30 looking after 20+ servers in a 'warehouse' in Computerland. Of course I don't know exactly how many look after x-amount of servers, but I think you get my point.

We know that there have been in excess of 100 million unique accounts created over the lifetime of WoW. We know that less than 10% of that number plays WoW currently.

If .0978% of those that left, left for the reason of game direction and could be brought back, that would result in the 88k subs illustrated above.

Could any players who unsub during content droughts be brought back to the fold via Vanilla servers, as something to do/try, when these players are tired after a year of SoO and WoD's final patch, to supplement the population of Vanilla servers? Perhaps.


I would say yes. Historically speaking, anytime content is released there is a resurgence of subs. Even something as small as a new battle pet has caused a small, temporary, spike in subs according to Blizzard. Taking them at their word, I would say that your theory is good and valid to me.

Could Blizz allow access to Vanilla servers be granted via having the latest x-pac licence (ie Must have Legion to play Classic)? Perhaps. Taking an approach such as this over an additional sub may lead to some cross pollination and greater sustainability and profitability of both server types, especially when those interested in Vanilla would have a free boost with the purchase of Legion to dangle their toes in the Live Version waters.


To be honest I had not thought of this sort of setup. I find this to be an excellent idea. Promote Legacy while also promoting the 'Live' version. From a purist standpoint, as long as NO QoL changes leak their way into Legacy I'd find this to be a fantastic idea.

The only cost I cannot speak of with any degree of logical deduction or even "what if" statements is development costs. I know only that they are "once and done", but have no clue what that number would be. I feel that after reading your post Draethen which put some numbers towards the idea of development costs, and putting my own thoughts into words that sustainability would not be the huge hurdle that was originally envisioned. I thank you for your cost post and have enjoyed the read, and added my own thoughts to yours in this post. I found your post well thought out, put together, and hopeful. Thanks.


According to Nostalrius dev team, they offered their server code to Blizzard. Now if this is in fact true, the development cost of a Legacy server would be drastically reduced. The only costs that remain would be some minor bug fixes and adaptation to current code. I cannot begin to guess this cost. I would imagine that Blizzard would just add a new Icon on the left of the launcher that sends you to a specific game, like Overwatch, Hearthstone, HotS, etc. But that is the part where I get a little hazy on implementation.
But I thank you for the compliment. I try to be fair and open about it.

Of course my numbers are not exact, and my calculations rudimentary, but the outrageousness of the endeavour no longer seems so out of reach.


When I started that post I was sure I'd find that it would be a minimal net of profit but once I started crunching the numbers I was suprised. $2.7 million is nothing to laugh at. It really does seem feasible, to me at least, that Blizz wouldn't 'loose their a$$' on this risk. But there are bean counters far smarter than me that work for them. They are the ones that know.

Thank you again for your post. I found it quite interesting and thought out well. Cheers to you!
11/03/2016 06:29 AMPosted by Draethen
When I started that post I was sure I'd find that it would be a minimal net of profit but once I started crunching the numbers I was suprised. $2.7 million is nothing to laugh at. It really does seem feasible, to me at least, that Blizz wouldn't 'loose their a$$' on this risk. But there are bean counters far smarter than me that work for them. They are the ones that know.

Thank you again for your post. I found it quite interesting and thought out well. Cheers to you!

What I would like is for Aehl, who seems to have some expertise in these matters to crunch what numbers we do know, taking the data we have from your post and mine and come up with something substantial.
His knowledge seems vastly superior to mine, and he seems legitimately interested in the feasibility.

As I said, I would prefer no xtra sub fee for Vanilla, you pay your sub and access to both is granted. $15.00 per sub is nothing to sneeze at and if it does lead to increased participation and enjoyment on both server types, I can only see this as being a good thing in the long haul for the endeavor.

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