WoW and the Nostalrius Survey Summary

As noted previously, the team running the Nostalrius private/pirate vanilla WoW server, which was effectively shut down by Blizzard back in April, an event which caused a good deal of attention to be focused on the whole nostalgia server question.

Ever mindful of the mob… see flying in Draenor… said they would at least consider the whole alternate server idea, inviting Nostalrius to come speak to the Blizz team in Irvine. (I keep putting Blizz in Anaheim in my head, because that is where BlizzCon happens, rather than in Irvine, which is on the other side of Santa Ana, where their offices actually are.  It’s not that far away… it is all in the OC… but is incorrect.)

Give the opportunity to meed with Blizzard, the Nostalrius wanted to have some data to hand beyond their server stats, so put together a survey to get a sense of their community.

Surveys are misused constantly, so I am always dubious about generalizing too much from results.  But Nostalrius did get 50,000 respondents to their survey.  20,000 responses had to be culled from that batch as they gave what were called “incoherent” responses, where the respondent gave conflicting information.  Examples were indicating that they had played a given expansion on a Blizz server but indicating elsewhere that they had never played on a Blizz server.

That still left 30,000 responses.  And while that is largely from an admittedly self-selecting group, so long as you treat it as such… don’t, for example generalize out to “all WoW players” from the results… you can gain some insight, or at least food for thought.

Of the respondents , the majority of whom are in their 20s, have played retail WoW at some point, and were not playing retail WoW at the time of the survey, money was not a listed as a major factor for most.

Figure 8. Left Retail Because...

Figure 8. Left Retail Because…

Additionally, when asked which expansions they had played on retail, over 60% of respondents indicated that they had played any given expansion.

Figure 6. Players per expansion played on retail

Figure 6. Players per expansion played on retail

So this is not necessarily a batch of freeloaders seeking a cheap time, something players on private/pirate servers have been painted as previously.

One of the side details noted in the survey results was that the age range of respondents indicated that many of them were likely too young to have actually played vanilla WoW back in the day.  For them, seeing vanilla is only an option through such server.

The ranking of the expansions (0 to 10, with 10 being the best) was interesting, but unsurprising for this group.  Basically, Cataclysm is viewed as the breaking point.  Before Cataclysm, vanilla and the two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, are rated very favorably.  But Cataclysm and beyond are rated much less favorably, with Warlords of Draenor at the bottom of the list.

Figure 9. Four expansion ratings compared

Figure 9. Four expansion ratings compared

Wrath of the Lich King, the worst ranked of the first three phases of the game seems pretty well liked when compared to the Warlords of Draenor.

Figure 10. WotLK ranking vs. WoD

Figure 10. WotLK ranking vs. WoD

I would imagine that WoD gets an extra helping of negative due to it being the current state of the game, but that is still a pretty negative view from this particular group.

Of course, one of the things that this highlights is that there are differing views as to where nostalgia really lies, as I note previously.

And then there is the question as to what, if anything, Blizzard will with any of this.  My bet still rests on, “little to nothing.”

Anyway, the charts I used above are all part of a nine page summary of the survey, available as a PDF file here.  There is more in the summary, I just cherry picked a few items that interested me.  The full report is said to range out to 80 pages and will be made available at some future date.

Hat Tip to Massively OP

11 thoughts on “WoW and the Nostalrius Survey Summary

  1. C. T. Murphy

    I played a bit on Nostalrius. I second the notion that emulator fans are not necessarily freeloaders. I’ve purchased every WoW expansion. That affords me some freeloading yes?


  2. Shintar

    I find it interesting that most people didn’t actually rate Cata as that bad, it’s really more of a “meh”, which looks worse than it is because the three expansions that came before are considered universally loved. MoP is also still in “meh” territory, with a slight downwards shift, and only with WoD the disgruntlement really sets in.


  3. Jim

    I currently play on Vengeance private server.
    I just prefer that version of the game (that actually got the most votes ;) ). I will definitely get and try legion at some point since i still have some people jumping in at every expansion but the game is just NOT social anymore and not what it used to be and mean to me (whether is was indeed more hardcore it was at the same time a relaxed experience with an insanely thought out and exceptional leveling experience).


  4. bhagpuss

    @Shintar Yes, I thought that was interesting. I’ve always assumed that the perpetual decline of WoW was primarily the natural, inevitable result of an aging game, an aging genre and wider changes in society. Something no company could have done all that much to prevent, in other words. But what if it was just that the expansions and the associated gameplay and content changes were each progressively less appealing than the ones they replaced? Would better expansions really have kept (a lot) more people playing or do all popular culture fads just have their time and then fade away?

    Somehow I doubt the release of even an official Vanilla server would answer that question.


  5. Gevlon

    WoD barely even classify as an MMO as most time spent were in instanced garrisons and instanced dungeons. There is no World at all, it’s like League of Legends where people idle in the lobby and then get into a 5v5 game (in WoD 5vE)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kiantremayne

    Bunch of cheap-ass freeloaders on a pirate server, when asked to fill in a survey, say it’s not because they’re cheap-ass freeloaders, honest. Colour me surprised :) Similarly, people playing a nostalgia server like the older versions of the game better… couldn’t see that one coming either. I’m more impressed with the “40% of our respondents were so obviously lying, and so bad at it, that we had to discard them” statistic, which makes me wonder just how reliable the remaining 60% are. How many of them just have the basic nous to lie consistently?


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Shintar – I think there is a certain aspect of people getting used to things after a while and being more annoyed about the latest thing than the thing that happened a few years back in play here. I would argue that Cata was worse for the game than WoD, but Cata content is all 15 levels behind me now and I only play in WoD, so it is garrisons and such that are actually in my face.

    @kiantremayne – How comforting it must be to have been blessed with absolute insight into the motivations of others. A bunch of lying liars took that survey I guess, all selfish freeloaders who never gave Blizzard a nickel. Me included of course, so this whole blog must be a lie. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jenks

    “Bunch of cheap-ass freeloaders on a pirate server, when asked to fill in a survey, say it’s not because they’re cheap-ass freeloaders, honest.”

    I play on classic servers on and off, and I’m one of the last couple million WoW subscribers. Let me rephrase more directly: you are wrong, stupid, and can suck my ass.


  9. kiantremayne

    My previous comment was a little strong, but the whole point is I DON’T have absolute insight into the motivations of others, which is why I tend towards scepticism. When people playing on a free server are asked why they play there, there’s a good chance they won’t give “because costs nothing” as the reason even if, in the end, it is – as you pointed out the majority, unlike Jenks, AREN’T currently paying for a live sub.
    The questions on the survey are interesting, but the data is suspect. The same questions, asked by an impartial market research agency of a broad cross-section of current and former WoW players, would probably yield different results. I suspect Blizzard have access to just such a survey, unfortunately the rest of us don’t.


  10. SynCaine

    If you’re over the age of 16 and $15 a month for you is something to think about, you are doing something terribly wrong in your life.


  11. Eksemplar

    I played beta, vanilla, tbc and half of wrath. The thing I miss from the release is the community.

    I’m not sure a vanilla server in 2016 can really bring that back. I could just be a bitter old man, but I tried cata and wod without reaching the max level in them partly because it seemed more like a single player game than a mmo. This is the vibe I also got from wild star, people seem a lot more interested in the singleplayer experience in MMOs than the community building stuff that originally drew me in.


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