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What are Private Servers Gaming and are They Legal?

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Multiplayer games can be quite fun until you realize you need to meet new people to reach your targets or beat big bosses. And sometimes, you just want to meet new people so you get more out of each gaming session. Private servers are a good way to get that sense of community and Serveur privé will do just that for you. But are they legal?

Private servers are a good way to get that sense of community and Serveur privé will do just that for you. Take World of Warcraft: while enjoyable on your own, being on a WoW private server with its own processes and rules can be much more fun. Basically, the website allows server creators to add their names to a list, and people will vote and comment, resulting in a ranking that is renewed every month so everyone gets a chance.s

This, of course, is entirely free. As a creator, people get the chance of playing the game as you imagine it. As a player, you might get much more enjoyment out of the game in those tight-knit communities.

World of Warcraft is on the decline and the creators from Blizzard have moved on to other developments. Former players have quit and many players are flocking to communities on private servers.

The private server route is a grey area with potential consequences.  The legalities can be questionable. Is it okay if you play on them? Let’s take a look.

Disclaimer: The information in this article should not be considered legal advice.

What Are Private Servers?

A private server is technically any server that is privately owned. That’s it. However, in the context of World of Warcraft, private servers are used to emulate the gameplay experience of online games.

Why would anyone play on a private server and are they illegal?  Theoretically, yes they are, but there are loopholes.

Private servers are free, most of the time.  Private servers are different. Most private servers implement unique gameplay rules that deviate a bit from official servers. For example, experience rates might be 100x faster OR new characters might start at maximum level. Other differences can include custom items, special mobs, or unique in-game events.

Private servers are convenient and let you play games that you might not normally be able to play. For example, if a particular game is not offered in your region, private servers may give you access. Similarly, if a game is discontinued and all official versions are taken down, private servers allow fans to keep playing other versions.

These reasons may not be good enough reasons for allowing them to exist, or justify the act of playing on a private server but they are explanations for why private servers are so popular.

Private servers are widespread and their popularity grows year after year. Despite the legal gray area concerning private servers, they cannot be eliminated. For each one that shuts down, three more sprout up.

Are Private Servers Illegal?

There is no easy answer, but these criteria offer some light into the legality of private servers.

  • If a private server is profiting, it is illegal.
  • If the server is running stolen or leaked software, it is illegal.
  • If the server is distributing client files, it is illegal.

If the server does not do any of these three aspects, legality is still not guaranteed.

Companies will have less ground to sue, but depending on the circumstances, they may find enough evidence to file a lawsuit. These risks mostly concern server hosts only.

What is the Legality of Private Servers for Players?

Before players can play on a private server, they need the game client. If you obtain a legitimate copy – that is, by purchasing it – then you must agree with the End User License Agreement (EULA) before you can use it.

For most multi player games, including World of Warcraft, EULA forbids both modification of the client and participation on emulated servers. As the client often needs to be modified before it can log onto an emulated server, most of these players have breached both points.

What happens when you breach the EULA?  There are instances when Blizzard has terminated the official accounts of those caught playing on emulated servers, but never has a private server player been hit with a lawsuit.

Private servers sit in a legal gray area.  You decide. Are they and should they be legal?

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