As Blizzard re-imagines old Azeroth, sweeps tired systems out the door and injects new ways for players to connect and work together, we can't imagine why anyone would not want to take advantage of what this top-notch MMO and company have to offer. There are players, however, who choose a different path. These players game on private servers, where conditions range from near-original mirrors to god-mode gameplay with super-GM abilities.
We don't condone private server play, which is clearly against Blizzard's Terms of Service and EULA. Still, there are plenty of players who believe differently, and we were curious why they've chosen the private server route. We visited with a player who plays on a relatively tame private server featuring near-"normal" game play. What can he do that we can't? And what do we have that he doesn't?
Main character Laughoutloud, level 80 Mage (Arcane, Frost)
15 Minutes of Fame: What is playing on a private server all about? What makes it interesting for you?
Laughoutloud: It's the same reason as people playing on retail: the fun of the game. The fact that the (XP) rates are a little bit higher makes it easier to get to level 80, but at the same time, it isn't so high such that you miss the roleplaying factor of the game. I play on a server that is Blizz-like, meaning no custom mobs or custom quests; everything is supposed to be like retail, except with a 3x boost in experience points.
Well, since I play on a Blizz-like server, there isn't much of a difference except for the experience rates being different. Also, there is a custom teleporter to take you to different home cities instead of taking the zeppelin or the ship, which is a lot easier. There are also custom events that the GMs of the server would host from time to time. It can be PvP- or PvE-related, with in-game rewards. The rewards usually are one or two emblems or some arena points.
Do you have to pay to play on your private server?
How long have you been on a private server?
About 8 months.
Do you also play WoW on a regular server?
No, not any more. I used to, for a little bit.
How does the play experience compare – more or fewer players, bugs, customer support, and so on?
I don't know how the people get the code from and etc. to run WoW servers, but it's obviously not from Blizzard, so the quality of a couple of programmers can't beat that of the team of Blizzard. Thus, there are more bugs, less players per realm. However, customer support is probably more than Blizzard, since you can actually talk to the GMs real-time by IRC.
Blizzard looks at playing on and even connecting to a private server as violations of their Terms of Service and EULA. How does that affect your feelings about where you play?
It doesn't really affect me much, because if they really strongly enforced their Terms of Services and EULA, there wouldn't be so many private servers out there. I believe a lot of the private servers' server hosts are in U.S., so it shouldn't be that hard to track and close if they really wanted to. It's not like BitTorrent, where most of the website servers are located outside of U.S. It really could be part of their business strategy to intentionally allow small private servers to run. It's just like books, movies, or in some other companies where "leakage of information" happens -- but it's really done intentionally.
If eventually they really crack down on private servers and close them down, I'm fine with that too, as it's their right to do so. Will I go back on retail? Probably not, because of time and money issues.
When you say your server offers a 3x XP boost, is that over current XP levels or the original leveling speed when WoW first launched?
I'm not too sure, but I think it's the current XP level and not the beta or original XP level when the game first launched.
What about all the features Blizzard has added to accelerate leveling speed and ease for players? Do those make you more likely to go back to a Blizzard server?
You mean if Blizzard increases the exp gained and make everything 3x rate as well? If so, I won't go back. My reason is not because leveling on retail is too slow, it's because of the time and money that needs to be put into the game. When I pay for something, I feel the pressure to need to play to get my money well spent. I also don't really work either, so paying the monthly fee just seems like something I can save. I am a full-time student, so playing on private server allows me to stop playing when I need to focus on school without "losing" my money paid.
Is it hard to find enough people your level to get a group?
Yeah, it is -- when I started to play, anyway. There are more people than before when I started, so I'm not too sure. At 80, it's not too hard to find a raid group.
Do you play mostly on your own, with a small group of friends, with a guild, or in pickup groups?
I play with a small group of friends; also, pickup groups.
Do you belong to a guild? Are there many guilds on your server?
Yes, I belong to a guild created by me and my friends. There aren't many guilds on the server -- probably about four to five noticeable ones in each faction, with a bunch of random ones that aren't very populated.
What type of content are you playing now?
I am playing the Lich King right now, but patch 3.1.3. We do raids.
When WoW gets a patch, do you get it at the same time, or do you have to wait?
Nope, we usually have to wait for whoever is doing the main code for private server WoW to release something. I am not sure what group does that, though -- but I know it's not the people running the private server I'm on.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" - neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an award-winning fantasy author and an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a bunch of guys who get together for dinner and group raiding in person every week, catch it on 15 Minutes of Fame.