When someone says 'private server' with respect to MMORPGs, it's hard to avoid mentally swapping a few letters and coming up with 'pirate server.' Rarely, if ever, have game companies licensed their software to individuals or groups, preferring instead to maintain tight control over the end user's options and general gaming experience.
The lock down hasn't stopped many enterprising coders from rolling out their own versions of their favorite games. Titles as diverse as Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Lineage 2, Aion, and World of Warcraft have all been accurately replicated by third parties in the past, and many of these private communities, while illegal, boast very respectable user populations.
Clearly there's a market for a customizable MMORPG experience, and I'm curious why development teams and publishers haven't tried to cater to it. Is it the costs involved? The technology? Surely with all the instancing in use in today's games it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to rent copies of the game world to roleplayers, immersion enthusiasts, and others who prefer a little more control over their experience.
What do you think, dear readers? Would you, or your guild, pay a premium for your own MMORPG server?