How the Nostalrius Team and Former Blizzard Developer Mark Kern Saved the Ailing World of Warcraft Franchise

Ex-Blizzard developer Mark Kern AKA Grummz is in the gaming news again. Along with Kabrutus and others, Kern is co-leading a gamer revolt against the forces of political correctness that have hijacked the video game industry with their neo-Marxist diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) ideologies.

For decades, Mark Kern has been one of the few video game developers who’ve stood up to the forces of censorship and tyranny that have taken over American and European video game studios. In an industry riddled with radical progressive politics, Mark always tells it like it is and is a rare voice of sanity and reason backed up by a resume of authentic accomplishment.

Kern is one of the very few video game developers who supported Gamergate and has spoken out against wokeness over the years. And, for his trouble, Mark has had a target on his back and been the undeserving recipient of a relentless barrage of scorn by a small group of cry bullies, alphabet perverts, and demented weirdos.

Mark Kern is to video games, as author J.K. Rowling is to fantasy literature. I suspect the very same community and their allies make up the majority of his detractors on X right now. But his critics are woefully ignorant of what Mark Kern accomplished that will forever cement his legacy in the annals of video game history.

Stay awhile and listen, friend.

In the Beginning, There was Azeroth

In the vast landscape of online gaming, few titles hold the cultural significance and enduring popularity of World of Warcraft. For over a decade, millions of players have ventured into the fantastical realms of Azeroth, embarking on epic quests, forging friendships, and engaging in legendary battles.

Yet, amidst the ever-evolving landscape of gaming, even WoW faced the challenge of staying relevant to its dedicated fanbase. As the team of original WoW developers such as Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, and Alex Afrasiabi was moved to the upcoming Project Titan, a lesser-skilled team at Blizzard took the reigns of Azeroth.

The gaming world would soon learn that the new team could not replicate the magic of the original and the first two expansions. In addition, the pernicious influence of Activsion’s Bobby Kotick, who put profits ahead of sound gameplay began to take its toll with Blizzard attempting to broaden the demographic of WoW players. In attempting to please everyone, they orphaned their core demographic and the result was mediocre expansions and fewer subscribers which translated to lower profits.

Let’s go back to 2015 A.D.

The Rise of Nostalrius

The cleverly named Nostalrius was a popular private World of Warcraft (WoW) server that gained significant attention for its emulation of the game’s earlier versions, particularly the “Vanilla” version of WoW, which refers to the game as it was before any expansions were released. Nostalrius aimed to recreate the experience of playing WoW as it was during its initial release and early stages free from all of the “innovations” that the MMORPG suffered along the way.

Tired of the increasingly dumbed-down nature of WoW, Nostalrius emerged as a beacon of nostalgia for Warcraft veterans longing to revisit the glory days of Vanilla WoW. With meticulous attention to detail, the Nostalrius team recreated the immersive experience of early Azeroth, capturing the essence of what made WoW a gaming phenomenon.

Nostalrious and other privately run WoW servers attracted a large community of players who were nostalgic for the original WoW experience or who preferred its gameplay mechanics compared to later expansions. Many players appreciated the challenge, simplicity, and sense of community that Vanilla WoW provided.

However, operating private servers like Nostalrius is against Blizzard Entertainment’s terms of service, as they involve running unofficial versions of the game and can potentially infringe upon Blizzard’s intellectual property rights. In April 2016, Blizzard issued a cease-and-desist order to Nostalrius, leading to the shutdown of the server.

Despite its closure, Nostalrius left a lasting impact on the WoW community, sparking discussions about the possibility of official “legacy” servers from Blizzard that would offer similar experiences. This eventually led to the development and release of WoW Classic, an official Blizzard-run version of the game that allows players to experience Vanilla WoW content on official servers.

Mark Kern’s Tireless Advocacy

At the forefront of the movement for legacy servers stood Mark Kern, a former lead developer on World of Warcraft. Kern’s passion for preserving the spirit of Vanilla WoW propelled him to spearhead a petition urging Blizzard to embrace the legacy server concept.

Through his advocacy efforts and dialogue with Blizzard leadership, Kern amplified the ignored voices of countless players yearning for a return to Azeroth’s roots and the fundamentals of WoW’s original game design.

Kern’s Fateful Meeting with Morhaime

In a pivotal moment that underscored the significance of their advocacy, Mark Kern had the opportunity to meet Mike Morhaime, one of the co-founders of Blizzard Entertainment, at Blizzard’s headquarters. This meeting provided Kern with a platform to convey the sentiments of the WoW community directly to Morhaime, emphasizing the widespread desire for legacy servers and the profound impact of Nostalrius on the player base.

The volunteer members of the Nostalrius dev team had a secret meeting with Blizzard about a week later as is detailed in the following video:

Blizzard’s Response

The groundswell of support for legacy servers could not be ignored, and Blizzard heeded the call with the much-anticipated announcement of WoW Classic. J. Allen Brack was forced to eat some humble pie with vanilla ice cream à la mode.

This official reincarnation of Vanilla WoW represented a watershed moment for the franchise, marking a return to its origins while simultaneously charting a course for the future. With meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to authenticity, Blizzard delivered an experience that resonated deeply with both veteran adventurers and newcomers alike.

The Resurgence of WoW

Since its release, WoW Classic has surpassed all expectations, reigniting the passion of players old and new. The revitalization of the franchise has been nothing short of remarkable, with WoW Classic emerging as the most popular offering in the WoW universe for the past few years. Challenge was back on the menu! The allure of reliving memorable quests, conquering fearsome foes, and forging lasting social bonds has proven irresistible, reaffirming World of Warcraft’s status as a cultural phenomenon.


The creation of WoW Classic from idea to fruition was an unlikely journey with a slim chance of success. No one person can take credit for it because it took hundreds of people to make it happen. Ultimately the gamble paid off big for Blizzard and WoW fans and this is why I feel it’s important to acknowledge the contribution of the Nostalrius team and Mark Kern who both amply demonstrated that the demand for WoW Classic was substantive and ultimately financially viable.

The success of WoW Classic shocked the WoW live team. Its rebirth also had the unintended consequences of causing the live team to pause to reflect on how they had dropped the ball and failed to uphold the original values of their venerable MMO. This epiphany at Blizzard even made it possible for the return of veteran Chris Metzen who is now back in charge of the lore for WoW.

WoW fans owe a debt to the Nostalrious team and Mark Kern for their heroic efforts that would unexpectedly keep Blizzard’s World of Warcraft franchise alive and well in the years to come. One wonders what would have happened to WoW if the classic server movement had not existed to inspire Blizzard to look inward and do some serious soul-searching as to the failing trajectory that they were taking the franchise in. Even Mike Morhaime deserves credit for giving WoW Classic the greenlight before he resigned.

WoW Classic may very well never have happened without the personal intervention of Mark Kern and his petition initiative. On Wokepedia, they have wasted no time attempting to rewrite history and minimize his role in the birth of WoW Classic.

In the annals of gaming history, the tale of how the Nostalrius team and Mark Kern revitalized the World of Warcraft franchise stands as a testament to the enduring power of community, passion, and nostalgia. Through their unwavering dedication, they not only preserved the legacy of Azeroth but also ushered in an undiscovered era of adventure and excitement for new WoW players.


I urge all gamers who care about the integrity of the video games they play to follow him on X and subscribe to his channel for $5 a month. This will help him continue to fight the ghouls that want to destroy our hobby.

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