Public reference client

So it just occurred to me, instead of having this back and forth with Blizzard about what’s proper and what isn’t, how about Blizzard just makes the reference client readily available for download and have it connect to the reference server so that there isn’t any more ambiguity or back and forth anymore.

Players can simply test what they want to and provide video evidence of both next to eachother, that way there is no debate anymore.

I don’t see any downside to this option whatsoever. Any distribution costs will be easily offset by time saved by devs verifying bugs and other staff costs.

All bug reports can be made here or a dedicated tool in game or via website

Only problem I can see is if blizzard doesn’t have the reference client or has other nefarious reasons for not providing such a client to the population


At an initial read of this, it appears (to me) that there is some belief in nefarious reasons Blizzard would have to not provide a reference client.

Let’s suppose that this is a good idea, and it is supported by Blizzard as well. How many reference servers? How many people should connect?

There are some interesting points that people have made about how some of the private servers, particularly one of the more popular ones had very large numbers of people, without experiencing a ton of lag, while Blizzard’s servers seem to have issues when turning off layering, so personally I’d be quite interested in better understanding the overall infrastructure of both private servers, and Blizzard servers, but that’s a whole other can of worms (maybe).

What you are suggesting though, sounds a lot like a beta (and Open Beta). I haven’t bothered to search the forums to find old posts complaining that the Beta we had was only or mostly available to streamers, and not the masses, but were definitely people who claimed such a thing.

It would be interesting for you to post some numbers here, to see where you are coming from. What sort of estimates can you provide of your perceived distribution costs, dev costs, costs of bugs verification, and other staff costs?

An immediate downside to point out, which may or may not be a reason, but is one that I have been inclined to assume to be the case, is that the original WoW infrastructure was so incredibly different to what it is today, that the downside would be having to recreate it, or more realistically create it.

If there is any benefit to running through, then the big question remains, would there be enough benefit to not doing so, such that creating a separate infrastructure to serve older WoW versions from would make sense.

I mean, the obvious argument with regards to costs, time, and experience is that private servers have done it.

I guess all this leaves me wondering what the point of this post is. We do not have Vanilla WoW on Blizzard’s infrastructure. We have a recreation of older WoW content on Blizzard’s modern infrastructure, using a fork of an 8.x client.

While, I am in no way trying to claim that this is perfect, I’m curious as to whether you have any projected numbers for costs of what you propose, cost savings and/or earnings based on the results, etc.

Would more people come back and/or play Classic than there are currently? Would that be a large enough margin to justify the increased costs of development, staffing, distribution and infrastructure?

Seeing as there’s nothing but upsides to the proposal, the only remaining are nefarious ones

Who knows? Probably just one if it’s serious testers. Basically, an actual beta

I have no idea how private servers run, however, Light’s Hope had a launch of over 11k people, most of them in the same starting areas, with pretty much zero noticeable lag whatsoever.

It absolutely is 100% possible to have thousands of people in a single area at once, however, Blizzard is either consciously or purposely refusing to use this technology, despite inviting the very team that made it possible to their headquarters.

Meanwhile, in live, noticeable lag exists whenever even a modest amount of players are in the same area, making me fear large world pvp events in P2

Obviously, we needed an open beta because this is low key one of the biggest laughing stalks in the history of game testing. If this game was brand new, or players had deeper knowledge of vanilla, Blizzard would be getting destroyed by review magazines for their incompetent handling of the beta test and the resulting product

Light’s hope can provide the costs of running a single 1.12 server. They were donation only, so obviously the cost wasn’t very high.

For dev costs, I would need the size of the Classic team, and simply multiply by average sector salaries for the position.

Quite easy

It obviously already exists, Blizzard tells us about figures they got from the reference client all the time. You simply have their “reference” server run and distribute a client to connect to it.

This is nothing new, it’s a private server, except it links to Blizzard

Why would we need battle net integration? Just use logins from Battle net to connect to the server just like private servers have been doing for years.

The point if this post is to fix the game obviously. Instead of relying on grainy 13 year old videos, we can have direct first hand knowledge and give accurate reports.

As far as testing goes, a reference client is literally the holy grail. Instead of giving it to us, blizzard is taking sips out of it and telling us how it tastes.

What are you talking about? People are leaving in droves because the port to the Legion client is basically a joke, and bugs/changes exist in mass that weren’t in the 1.12 client.

This is about saving people, and making sure future patches are bona fide vanilla. Marketing and future patch releases will bring people back. Many are lost already for good

Numbers. It’s as if you’ve ignored most of what I’ve said to just point out the same things you already posted.

Listen, don’t get me wrong here, I personally would like to have an actual Vanilla release. I think it would be fun.

What I won’t do though is pretend that I have some special insight, and ability to give you, potential investors (of millions, and millions of dollars), and everyone else numbers and data that will prove that in presentations and pitches that will ensure my plans move forward.

Are they? How many?

Are the numbers you have access to, and will post here to share with us different from the types of numbers Blizzard would normally see after any expansion is launched?

Do the numbers help to prove or disprove that a Vanilla-like WoW experience would be successful?

This reads a little like “The sky is falling!” to me. It would be interesting if we had numbers to back it up, and a context that would also support that.

So, I don’t have any numbers for this, as it is complete conjecture, but I suspect that the majority of those who are currently playing WoW Classic, are quite happy with it. Perhaps not, but it’s also difficult to know what peoples’ behavior would be under different circumstances.

For example, are the numbers of subscriptions now any different than they would be if Classic WoW were 100% perfectly the same as Vanilla WoW was at the time? And, do we have anything that could support that either way?

In any case, I suspect that there are myriad reasons for Blizzard to have supported and developed the release of WoW Classic, and part of that was to appeal to Vanilla fans, part may have been IP law related, and partly other reasons.

A good question, I think is and will be, is WoW Classic a success? How/when will we know? Has it brought back an increase in subscriptions that has already paid for its development? Will we see more past content released in the future on the newer clients, such as BC, Wrath, etc.?

So, while I definitely personally like the idea of having Blizzard supported Vanilla servers, I don’t see any decent reason for Blizzard to support them, especially not any reason that could be supported by numbers that Classic isn’t already providing.


Okay I think we’re confused here. I’m asking for the reference client that blizzard is referencing

What numbers? The numbers say that classic hype is over and people are leaving. Blizzard doesn’t release their own numbers, so we go off the best third party sources

The numbers say blizzard makes billions of dollars a year, a reference client is basically a private server. Private servers have been run as a hobby for free by people in their basements for years. Blizzard will be fine

What plans?

Daily posts about dead servers, and I read an article that said blizzard fell to 3rd or 4th place in subs after being first at classic launch. I can’t find the article right now but I posted it a few weeks back

Blizzard doesn’t release hard numbers, they broke the addon that was reporting them a little while after launch probably to hide a large sub count drop

Another example of blizzard hiding information when it’s damaging to them. Which is why I said any reason for not releasing the reference client is likely nefarious. It’s simply how Blizzard does business

If you watched that video and it isn’t deeply concerning to you at a visceral level then I’m not sure what more else to say

The non vanilla players will try classic out. it’s the veterans who will stay for good.

That includes the private server community, they’ve been playing this for years. The general consensus from them is that this game is a joke.

What about it are you asking for? The proprietary source code?

The compiled binaries? Why? How does the reference client work? Is it any different from the client code that is available for download for private servers?

I’m not familiar with the client code, but I’ve got some questions, based on things I’d heard about private servers (I don’t know the answers, and I haven’t looked):

Are there things that the client may rely on that are server-side? Such as NPC behavior? Various settings that may be stored as data that the client would reference, but not have stored?

I am not saying that I disagree with you on this, but I certainly do not have any actual numbers or data to point to. Do you?

If so, please do. If not, then this is all purely speculative, but of course may be based on some observations. Do you feel these speculative numbers are different from what you might speculate as an influx of players when new expansions are released?

Oh. You’d have to explain that in much more detail for me to make sense of what you mean.

While I have no reason to believe other things, I also don’t really have any reason to believe these claims. I’m just pointing out that we don’t know why Blizzard is not releasing hard numbers, precisely. It isn’t necessarily an example of Blizzard hiding information, and it certainly does not point to the conclusion that Blizzard is doing something for nefarious reasons. I believe your use of nefarious here to be hyperbolic, and still, I’d be hard pressed to agree.

How large of a community is the private server community? And of those numbers, how many are actually playing Classic? And of those, how many will continue to do so?

I have asked for numbers a few times, and I certainly do not have access to them. I suspect you do not either, but Blizzard likely has some much better insight than we do.

Now, you may have some preference for how WoW Classic should be, and that preference may align with some others as well. Heck, it may even align with my preference, too. I’m not posting replies here because I disagree with anything you’re saying. I just think that a lot of it is coming from a place of looking at it from the player’s point of view, and what you would like to see in an ideal world:

A real, authentic Vanilla WoW experience.

And, I agree that that would be great.

So, basically what you are saying is that Blizzard should release their reference client and have it connect to their reference server, so that people outside of Blizzard, i.e. Vanilla fans, etc. could test it, and report bugs based on that?

I think that’s a good idea. If it were presented with some data that would support any claims that it would be more successful than what we currently have, and presented to some key stakeholders in a way that would make them look good for buying into it, then I think you’ve got a shot at making this happen!

No dude the reference client not the source code jesus christ

That’s what we’re trying to figure out. Is it the same client

And even if it is, the server it connects to is almost certainly not the same as private servers. This is what we’re testing. The server basically

The client isn’t what we’re testing here. So “client” is a misnomer. What we need is blizzard’s vanilla server values and coding to reference.

The client is most likely just a 1.12 cookie cutter one that private servers use. But we don’t know this for sure.

The client references the server for things like mob stat values, armor, damage/item values/etc.

It’s Occam’s razor. The simpliest explaination is the most likely one.

Blizzard is hiding sub numbers because they’re negative.

Blizzard can’t/won’t release a reference client because it would mean

  1. patching the game
  2. admitting to the sad state of Classic

once all these bugs are irrefutably proven, public, and undeniable.

Large enough to compel the release of Classic

i have no idea dude. The wowservers subreddit is probably a decent estimate


Thank you


I think there are some problems with the assumptions around Blizzard’s intent for not volunteering their numbers to the public, and wording such as “hiding” and “nefarious,” and would avoid using them in a presentation to key stakeholders, if you have the chance to present to them.

This isn’t of particular importance to your point, I don’t think, but yes it’s almost certainly the same client, as a matter of course, if it is the same release version 1.12 of the same code.

A better question is how a publicly traded company is able to obscure financial details such as an accurate subscriber count which should be part of the public record

It is, because everything is relevant

Is their client 1.12? 1.11? Is it 2.0?

But these are small questions compared to what the actual server values are

So, this type of thing (I think) would be much better served in a different topic, as it greatly detracts from your point, which isn’t whether Blizzard is nefarious, or (unfortunately) what the numbers actually are.


There are reports available at

You’ll have to expand on precisely what you mean precisely by “obscuring financial details, such as accurate subscriber count,” and “should be part of the public record.”

How is subscriber count being obscured? What other financial details are being obscured? How?

What is meant by “should?” Are you claiming that something is not in compliance with regulations or law? What isn’t? Which regulations or law?

And if that is the case, then the only possibilities I can think of for original values to exist are:

  • There were data backups stored somewhere
  • There were servers that were never upgraded, and still hold original data from that time

I would not expect either of those to be particularly similar to any private server though.

There must be for blizzard to have a quote unquote reference client. Otherwise they are no more well informed than we are

That’s why we need it

This seems hyperbolic.

You would like access to Blizzard’s reference client and reference servers. Cool.

It would be interesting if there was any indication to Blizzard that spending resources on developing a system to allow that would result in an overall gain for them.

Blizzard would like us to believe they even have a relevant reference client. I personally don’t think it exists (call me a conspiracy theorist, but some of their responses to the bugs are just odd…).

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You’ll have to define what you mean by this, for statements like, “I personally don’t think it exists” to make any sense.

Do you have any examples?

I mean, it could be questionable as to whether any exact replica of Vanilla WoW exists in all the pieces that matter, but whether a client exists is not something that is particularly disputable.

If you look at the Creating WoW Classic Pannel Recap (, the main pieces mentioned are:

  • database data
  • art assets
  • source code

None of this would necessarily be easily extracted from a reference client. A reference client might not even have any of the database data, and would likely have compiled binary for the source code, which could possibly be decompiled.

There are other pieces, such as infrastructure, which would not be part of this, though it’s questionable how much impact that may have on gameplay.

Presumably, you are using “client” as I think Ravid is using it, which includes the game client, and its supporting backend (database data), etc. and whatever else may be applicable.

That all seems to be addressed in the post:

"This was a good start, but there were issues with how the developers used to handle updates to the database data. Unlike the source code, for which Blizzard had archives for multiple branches of the game that could be worked on and developed as separate pieces, early database data was overwritten with each commensurate update. Thankfully, that problem was fixed very quickly after launch, and when we looked, we found data going back to version 1.12—and even earlier.

Finally, we found art assets on old tape backups, which matched all the database data that had been preserved."

Now, I could say, “You’re a conspiracy theorist…” and I have no doubt that you are, but who cares?

What is the point of any of this? What problem is trying to be addressed? And how much of a benefit is that going to have, if it is? Where is the data that supports any claims about any of this?

Personally, I don’t care much either way. I’m happy enough with Classic the way it is, but I think it would be even better if it were a perfect Vanilla WoW experience, whatever that is like now though, I don’t know.

Well I can say this much, I was so excited for a legit stable version of vanilla WoW I bought 2 accounts for the first time since wotlk. I got 2x 6month subs for them, but I’m really starting to doubt I’ll re-sub with the lack of attention to game play and bugs in the game. From my stand point it really doesn’t look like they care that much about the game and there are many of us who are passionate about it.

The private servers game play may not have been perfect but it was much closer to vanilla than what we got right now. Spell batching and legion client being the source of most of the issues. I think if they could just at least resolve the spell batching issues it would make the game tolerable enough for me to continue forward with it but it’s a game breaker.

There isn’t a reference client that is analogous to the Legion based client Classic is running on. The 1.12 client runs just fine on modern PCs, but it lacks a proper Bnet API. When Blizzard says “this matches our reference client”, it’s a patently pretty absurd statement to make, when Nostal had the gameplay mechanics of vanilla properly working. Why? Because they used 1.12. Now as far as database goes, they obviously didn’t have some of that right on the private servers. Lasher farming? Sure. I have no doubt the nerfed lasher farm was actually in place by 1.12. “It matches our reference client” (“database” would be more accurate, but it’s probably less confusing for most players for them to say client) makes sense in this context. But when Blizzard claims that an obviously incorrect gameplay mechanic (the thrash bug- yes, it is a bug, mobs did NOT stack thrash in 1.12) “matches the reference client”, it’s pretty obvious whatever they are using as a reference client is either A) non-existent or B) is definitely not a 1.12 client.

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You hadn’t played since Wrath, and you bought two 6-month subs. I wonder if that’s more, less, or about average for those who are returning?

I don’t know what the projected figures and expectations are for people who haven’t regularly kept subscriptions, but that seems like a pretty good amount that would count towards “success” of Classic, if there is any such thing that would make sense and/or be measured on an individual basis.

How do you know this? Do you have a replica of Vanilla servers and game clients that you can compare that to?

I haven’t been a pserver player, but I do remember hearing about them a long time ago (back when BC was current content at least), and people would say things like, “the bosses aren’t scripted,” etc. I’d be curious how those sorts of issues were resolved on private servers, and what sorts of things people who played them got used to that absolutely are not anywhere near what Vanilla was actually like.

But regardless of any of that, I haven’t heard anyone really make a stink about the macro system, and I wish they would! We’ve got Retail’s macro system, not Vanilla WoW’s… That sucks! (not enough for me to cancel my subscription, nor buy into supporting IP theft, and play on private servers, but I don’t like it. If there was a data-driven report, or presentation, or some sort of argument that showed some positive projections for changes that would provide solutions, and the benefits to Blizzard they would have, I would likely support it).

That would be nice. I’m not a big fan spell batching, leeway, or layering, to be honest, but none of those things are major enough issues that they so detrimentally detract from what I wanted out of Classic that it is game-breaking for me. I’m willing to wait it out, and hopefully we eventually have them resolved.

Oh, and as far as what problem is trying to be addressed, I think “it matches our reference client” is an extremely convenient cop out when game breaking bugs are brought to Blizzard’s attention. Why spend time fixing the game when you can just convince your community that a bug is a feature?

i wish this were true. Remulos is more packed than ever, every zone is a joke even at 4am

Honestly, id be good if half the current tourists quit and went back to or whatever, and stopped taking resources from people who intend to stay and have no interest in the latest fad.

Let. them. go.

Then you have a small but dedicated base. Eve Online did this successfully for literally a decade.

This statement doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not trying to be purposely obtuse!

Do you mean that the reference client is older code that predates the Legion client that is WoW Classic?

If that’s the common speak, then sure. I wasn’t aware of this. Client may have a different meaning to me, as I have a background in software engineering.

I’m completely unfamiliar with the thrash bug, but curious about it.

Is this something you remember from Vanilla, or from private servers? Is there some BC video proof? I’m curious here how we would know definitively that this obviously incorrect gameplay.

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