Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Programming Entertainment Games IT Technology Your Rights Online

Blizzard Asserts Rights Over Independent Add-Ons 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-there's-no-wow-app-store dept.
bugnuts writes "Blizzard has announced a policy change regarding add-ons for the popular game World of Warcraft which asserts requirements on UI programmers, such as disallowing charging for the program, obfuscation, or soliciting donations. Add-ons are voluntarily-installed UI programs that add functionality to the game, programmed in Lua, which can do various tasks that hook into the WoW engine. The new policy has some obvious requirements, such as not loading the servers or spamming users, and it looks like an attempt to make things more accessible and free for the end user. But unlike FOSS, it adds other requirements that assert control over these independently coded programs, such as distribution and fees. Blizzard can already control the ultimate functionality of add-ons by changing the hooks into the WoW engine. They have exercised this ability in the past, e.g. to disable add-ons that automate movement and facilitate 'one-button' combat. Should they be able to make demands on independent programmers' copyrighted works, such as forbidding download fees or advertising, when those programmers are not under contract to code for Blizzard? Is this like Microsoft asserting control over what programmers may code for Windows?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blizzard Asserts Rights Over Independent Add-Ons

Comments Filter:
  • This is rediculous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kcbanner (929309) * on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:23AM (#27278989) Homepage Journal
    When I used to play WoW, I used many addons that made up for Blizzard's shortcomings in the UI. If the authors want to charge for these addons Blizzard should have absolutely no say in the matter. The developers are improving Blizzard's product to a more playable state, Blizzard should be paying them.
    • by Rabbitbunny (1202531) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:42AM (#27279147)

      Exactly, Blizzard derives increased value from users taking the time to level a second character due to QuestHelper [curse.com]. Many users use Auctioneer [auctioneeraddon.com]. While those are free with exceptional support there are also many that are not free such as Zygors' Guides ($50) [zygorguides.com], Carbonite ($2.50/mo) [carboniteaddon.com], Brian Kopp's Guide/Addon ($59.99) [briankopp.com], Joanas' Levelling Guide ($77) [joanasworld.com], and QuestUp ($47) [teamidemise.com].

      You'll note that the paid addons are for quest assistance.

      You'll note that Brian Kopp (previously featured on slashdot [slashdot.org]) is now making cash by selling an ingame version of his guide, me thinks this is retribution.

      Also, as an addon author myself I can only say "Go ahead, turn off all your API's, see how that works out. I can farm other games".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget Blizzard likes to copy popular addons and make them into their own UI release.

    • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:35PM (#27279591)
      I think it has more to do with fairness than anything else. Blizzard has always taken a strong stance on balance. If someone produces a UI addon that makes the game easier, but only for those that can afford it, it creates an inbalance which in turn could upset Blizzards financials. If these addons a free, then they are available to anyone with the will to install them. It makes good business sense that they would attempt to control addons like this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by astrocanis (1506149)
        I disagree. I think this has absolutely nothing to do with what is immediately visible. Microsoft is going to, via it's subsidiary Massive, "offer" in-game ads to WoW players. Nobody is quite sure what form that could take. However, as Activision signed an exclusive with MS for this, any in-game advertising not explicitly created by MS will be a violation of that exclusivity. Money talks. Customers only matter any more in terms of demographic and purchasing profile. Even in WoW. Actually, since Act
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kalriath (849904) *

          You know, I don't think they'll be putting ads in World of Warcraft any time soon. The games on the Battle.net platform which they don't field a monthly subscription from (Starcraft II, etc) are the candidates for this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Detkloo (1496433)
      5) Add-ons may not solicit donations. Add-ons may not include requests for donations. We recognize the immense amount of effort and resources that go into developing an add-on; however, such requests should be limited to the add-on website or distribution site and should not appear in the game. Hardly the same thing as "forbidding download fees or advertising"
      • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @01:53PM (#27280195)

        Your post speaks of a complete lack of experience with how addons wind up on WoW users systems.

        The minority of an addon's users get it from the authors website. Most get them from 3rd party websites (that may or more likely may not be good about providing some donation link) or they get them through 3rd party addon management programs that allow the user to never have to glance at the original author's website.

        • by Altrag (195300) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @04:01PM (#27281523)

          Lets try that again:

          such requests should be limited to the add-on website OR DISTRIBUTION SITE and should not appear in the game.

          Of course its up to curse.com and whoever to actually implement the charge-throughs (or simply not allow direct downloads for addons that wish to charge), but Blizzard themselves isn't denying the fact that users mostly go to curse.com or wowinterface.com or similar.

          On the other hand, if curse & friends decide not to bother, it will make it extremely hard for new addons to get exposure if they want to charge.

          • From reading comments of these addon authors, it does seem like it's fairly hard to get the 3rd party distribution sites to play ball. They were having a difficult time making it worthwhile via donations already before Blizzard removed their most effective option (a simple in-game mention to donate).

        • by mog007 (677810)

          Simple, just put a little extra functionality in the addon that reminds the user that updates to the addon can be downloaded at www.myaddon.com

          • You should read posts by the authors of these popular addons. They can tell you what does and doesn't work. From what I've read, the evidence is that without saying outright "Please donate", you don't wind up getting squat.

    • I'm just glad to see them cracking down on obfuscation. Nothing enrages me quite like being handed the source code and being completely unable to do anything useful with it.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:23AM (#27278991)

    If you want to play with their code and platform, you need to follow their rules or not play at all.

    Just as you can't close your code if it incorporates GPL code, Blizzard doesn't want you charging people for your add-ons if you code for their platform.

    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:51AM (#27279211)

      If you want to play with their code and platform, you need to follow their rules or not play at all.

      I was going to call bullshit, but after reading TFA, I completely agree with them in every single point. Misleading summary.

      This is not "software development" in the traditional sense. It's a proprietary platform, where everything you do affects many other people as well. This "unlike FOSS" crap is completely sensationalist.

      Let's see the 'offending' terms:

      4) Add-ons may not include advertisements.

      Oh my, we won't have to get adblock for wow! Outrage!

      5) Add-ons may not solicit donations.
      Add-ons may not include requests for donations. We recognize the immense amount of effort and resources that go into developing an add-on; however, such requests should be limited to the add-on website or distribution site and should not appear in the game.

      Same here.

      So, what was the news again?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by obarthelemy (160321)

        Really, the news is that WoW (especially high end PVE and PVP) is not playable without a few addons (5 ?), and is really much better if you have a bunch of them (I have 20-30).

        Blizzard does not even offer an AddonStore, or an addon update tool.

        Blizzard is trying to have it both ways:
        1- having a crappy client that is so lacking in so many respects that add-ons are at minimum an appreciable comfort, but really more of a vital necessity; Blizzard is counting on hackers to fill the gaps, which they usually do m

        • by Jurily (900488)

          Blizzard should implement an AddonStore modelled on the iPhone's Appstore, with free and not free addons, and share revenue; and also implement an auto-update feature to keep addons up to date.

          Update tool: www.curse.com

          As for the addonstore, I already paid three times to play Lich King, not to mention the monthly fee. Why should I pay even more just because the UI sucks?

          • - the update tool should be supllied by blizzard, and standard

            - payment for addons should be at the devs' discretion. Should they always work for free for you ?

        • by Dread_ed (260158)

          ...blizzard should either license it to include in their vanilla client, or try to duplicate it.

          This is definitely the way of Blizzard. Additional button bars used to be an add on. It's in the client now. Threat data and meters used to be addon only. Now the threat addons use client data for threat mechanics and there is a meter (albiet a sucky one) displayed for every mob. The "-fu" style ingame addon management is now incorporated (again suckily) into the client as well. Those are just a few of the

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @05:58PM (#27282609)

          You don't need addons. You may like addons, but you sure as hell don't need them. WoW is perfectly playable without any addons. In fact, I know a number of people who play with a very minimal number of addons for the reason that addons usually break when a new version comes out. So they don't use man, and the ones they do use are non-critical. Personally I use a few, but none that are "I must have it or I can't play." I am perfectly capable of disabling all my addons and still doing just fine.

          What's more, WoW has a very good UI built in. I've played more than a few MMORPGs (Everquest, DAoC, EvE, Starwars Galaxies, and Warhammer) and WoW has be far the best UI. It is easy to use, and includes a high degree of built-in customization. For that matter, the addon interface is just another level. The most basic is the point and click menus and such. If you need more complexity, there's macros which require some basic scripting but not much. Need more than that? No problem you can full out program the UI using XML and LUA. What's more, you can share it with the world.

          Also, Blizzard DOES take popular addons and make something like them in the game. Biggest one I can think of is the raid frames. Back in the day, there was no display for the whole raid, and thus no easy way to heal a raid. CTRaid became popular for this reason. It was a pain in the ass to use, and kinda flaky at times, but useful to raiders. So what happened? Blizzard modified WoW to have it's own raid frames, and to give addons like CT easy means of communicating things.

          Your post just sounds like whining about a game that won't do things "Your way." Well ok, but recognize you aren't the only player. Lots of people may not think that "your way" is right. So if you don't find it fun, go find another game to play. Seriously, WoW isn't the only game out there, not even the only MMO. Some people like other games, nothing wrong with that. However, if your bitch is with the UI, well I'd be prepared to be disappointed. WoW's UI is one of the very best. That was only of the biggest pains when I tries Warhammer. The UI in that game was so rouge as compared to what I was used to in WoW. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't near as good as what WoW had.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by El_Muerte_TDS (592157)

        Indeed, nothing new. For example Epic Games has the "no-commercial mods" rule for years. It pretty much comes down to, "if you want to use our tools, runtime (i.e. te game) and content then you are not allowed to charge people for it".

        Although, they don't have a "no begging" rule. And actually, I don't think I ever saw a mod for an Epic Game contain any begging.

    • by einhverfr (238914)

      At least as far as the GPL v2.... (I am not going into the v3 can of worms.)

      The problem is that I don't think that linking has much to do with whether you have a derivative work of not. If someone wants to make a proprietary add-on to a GPL project, I am willing to bet that the question of whether it is linked dynamically to the software or communicates through sockets will have very little bearing on whether it is a derivative work. THis is assuming that "aggregative work" means the same thing as "compi

      • by Nursie (632944)

        If it's linked it's derivative, it uses the GPL code to do something.

        This is why we have the LGPL.

        • by einhverfr (238914)

          So does a network client. But if I write a network client for MySQL's protocols without using their libraries, then nobody argues that this has any requirement to be GPL. Also no copyright license is ever required to run the software and the GPL makes it clear that is not governed. Therefore ONLY actions prohibited otherwise by copyright law (at least regarding the GPL v2) are governed.

          Does Microsoft have a copyright basis to make arbitrary demands regarding all code running on the platform? Can Microso

          • by Nursie (632944)

            So does a network client. But if I write a network client for MySQL's protocols without using their libraries, then nobody argues that this has any requirement to be GPL.

            And that's fine and not covered by the GPL. There is a difference between linking to libraries and using a service over TCP/IP and the GPL is clear on that. Of course it does only apply to distribution.

            As for MS and Blizzard, I don't know (or much care) what they have the rights to do.

      • I am willing to bet that the question of whether it is linked dynamically to the software or communicates through sockets will have very little bearing on whether it is a derivative work.

        Courts take the intent of the parties into account when interpreting licenses or other legal documents. For GNU software, this intent would include philosophy documents published by the FSF such as its GPL FAQ [gnu.org], which states that a program that communicates over a documented socket interface is less likely to be considered "combined".

        • by einhverfr (238914)

          IANAL, but I understand that intent is only used in cases where the intent of both parties is clear (i.e. the licensor and the licensee, not necessarily the license author), and where the license is not otherwise clear. So you would seem to have to show that both the licensor and licensee accepted RMS's statements, and if not, vagueness would be held against the licensor.

          However, the bigger issue is that I am not sure you need copyright permission to dynamically link to a library anyway, provided that dist

      • In this specific case, I think Blizzard has a strong case because such add-ins combine with the program to affect the screen display, which could be argued to CREATE a derivative work when running, since game displays tend to be primarily expressive. Whether they "can" and whether they "should" are two very different questions.

    • by ajs (35943)

      And let's be clear. They can't really stop you. What they can do is bar you from playing the game or block your addon from working. There's no real control that they can place of the authoring of LUA code that has calls out to their API.

      Blizzard is entirely within their rights to take these steps, and frankly I think I'm happier with this kind of restriction than not, right now. At some point there will be many platforms like WoW, where you can re-write most of the UI of a virtual world, but right now, most

  • Good choice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kranfer (620510)
    I am happy about this change with WoW. I personally never saw a point in paying for an addon to the game. Although some of the addons look good that you pay for I am glad to see this change. Ah well just MY opinion.
    • by Tihstae (86842)

      So are you going to complain when there aren't any addons? If someone takes the time to code the addon they should be able to ask for whatever they want for it . It is their labor not Blizzard's. If they do it for their own pleasure and the thanks from the people that use it is enough payment for their labor then the developer can give it away for free.

      All this will do is reduce the number of addons available. Blizzard make good games but has their head up their ass when it comes to understanding the pe

      • Re:Good choice (Score:5, Informative)

        by rob1980 (941751) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:47AM (#27279187)
        All this will do is reduce the number of addons available.

        No it won't, it'll just reduce the number of addons spamming your message window with "OMG PLZ SEND MONEY". TFA specifically says you can solicit donations on your website for your work, you just can't charge for it or advertise in game.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Except it happened already. The single most popular quest assistance addon, quest helper is officially discontinued because of this. Author stated his reasons in the update log very clearly - money loss due to inability to request donations in-game.

          Frankly, the reason why "asking for money on homepage/download page" is very simple - there are thousands of add-ons for WoW all made by different developers. As a result, the addons are downloaded from large portal sites such as curse gaming or wowinterface, whi

        • by ajs (35943)

          TFA specifically says you can solicit donations on your website for your work, you just can't charge for it or advertise in game.

          So, you didn't read his post, or are you just being obtuse?

          He already addressed that point, making it clear that, no requesting donations on the Web site doesn't work (which is rather obvious if you realize that most users of many addons use an addon manager, and never visit the site anyway, much the way Linux users almost never visit the Gnome site or the GCC site).

          If you disagree with his points, be constructive and say so. Defend your point of view even, but don't just blindly re-state the premise. That

      • by nobodyman (90587) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:04PM (#27279307) Homepage

        If someone takes the time to code the addon they should be able to ask for whatever they want for it

        Nope, when you live under someones roof you play by their rules. It might be kindof a dick move, but it's their API and they have every right to control how it's used. And it's not like this stipulation is unheard of; Microsoft has similar rules surrounding use of their GamerTag API as well as Google Maps with their free API (this is an oversimplification, but in general you are not allowed to use GMap mashups in for-pay websites).

        It is their labor not Blizzard's.

        Not to belittle the work of modders, but the fact that they can write add-ons at all is due to the substantial amount of resources that Blizzard has invested not only in the development of the API, but also the game itself and the massive server infrastructure.

        I may not like it (I haven't decide either way yet whether it's a good or bad move - I'm very wary of Blizzard ever since the bnetd fiasco [wikipedia.org]). But they are absolutely within their rights to do this.

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>But it's their API and they have every right to control how it's used.

          It's debatable. If you're not actually using any of their source code to make your mod for WoW (and most don't), then there's no copyright law that would stop mod authors from telling Blizzard to take a hike. Writing a program that is compatible with another program (which is all a mod is) is a protected form of authoring. Blizzard, of course, is free to make their programs incompatible, and Google Maps is free to block you if you

          • by nobodyman (90587)

            I ANAL, of course, but I don't think Blizzard really can do much but engage in manually trying to identify and disable mods they dislike.

            I think we're in agreement. Sorry if implied that Blizzard has some sort of legal recourse (they may, but ianal either). I think what's most likely is that they're going to just start yanking api keys (do they use api keys? i dunno how it works) or otherwise blocking authors that don't cooperate.

  • by TimTucker (982832) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:26AM (#27279017) Homepage
    Just skimming through the changes, it doesn't look like they forbid advertising or donations: just in-game advertising or requests for donations. (i.e.: an add-on developer would still be perfectly free to solicit donations or include advertising on the site where they offer the add-on for download)
  • Its their app (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:38AM (#27279123) Homepage Journal

    They can make any demands they want.

    You are also free to take your business ( and code ) elsewhere and put them out of business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071)

      What you are advocating is "might makes right"

      Were it not for the restraint of the legal system, I'm sure many companies wouldn't hesitate to rob you blind, literally.

      • If not, the GPL wouldn't work. That's what the GPL relies on: The ability to tell people what they can and can't do with your shit. You say "Ok, you can have the source, and you can modify and redistribute it, however you have to give those modifications to me and everyone else. Otherwise, no deal." You are allowed to do that because it's your code. Take that away, and then it would be a situation of if you hand out your code, people can do whatever they want with it and you can't restrict that.

  • In WOW the style and feel of the world is important. Tools like these could ruin that without certain restrictions. Then again, so can't players.

  • QuestHelper (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:40AM (#27279137) Homepage

    I'll chime in here.

    I'm the current sole author/maintainer of what I believe is the world's most popular World of Warcraft UI Mod, QuestHelper. About half a year ago I took it over from an abandoned/unmaintained and rapidly degrading state, and I've treated it like a full-time job since. I'm perhaps two or three weeks ago from releasing Version 1.0, which is a huge set of changes to dramatically reduce CPU and memory usage, as well as produce better output from the mod and be far, far easier to maintain and modify in the future.

    I used to be fully donation-supported - that means my apartment in the Bay Area, food, gas, utilities, all of that, thanks to the generosity of users.

    The funny thing about donations is that a lot of people will gladly donate, but you have to remind them. Depending on how you count it, adding a simple unobtrusive message on logon saying "hey we're donation-supported, if you really like QH please donate" increased income anywhere from five-fold to hundred-fold. That said, even with that message, my income was starting to drop below sustainability levels - I was hoping that v1.0 would fix that, as well as breaking some code in the Wowmatrix client that was actually disabling my donation request.

    (Ironically, it seems like the message may not have been noticable enough, as a large number of people have told me that they never even saw it after using QH for months. So it goes.)

    Now, I'm not donation-supported. I can't put that message up, and I know from experience that I won't get enough without it. I can keep up the donation box on the actual website, but the fact is that just won't provide enough for me to keep going - most people don't even look at the website. I should mention that I fully believe this is within Blizzard's rights to do - I don't have any grounds to sue or anything - but I do believe it sucks. So I'm going to be releasing version 1.0 (watch for it in 2 or 3 weeks, it'd be sooner but I'm going to GDC and that will eat a week), and then just putting it in a mothballed maintenance release, as the remaining donations I'll get anyway should be enough for that.

    I think this is a mistake caused by Blizzard's overzealous legal team. I think, for some reason, Blizzard is terrified at the idea of anyone besides them making money on anything related to their game. I'm not sure why they're banning donation requests ingame but not out-of-game - I think they're just confused. However, they've killed off a good number of UI mods thanks to this, and I think ultimately this is going to hurt them quite a bit.

    I'll field questions, as long as they're sanely-written.

    If you'd like to donate, I'd love for a little bit extra to cover the 1.0 release - here's the link [quest-helper.com]. Anything you can give is appreciated, of course, though not expected and not required.

    Also, if there's any business managers out there who have a clever idea for how to still make a living off this, let me know. I'll pay you with a reasonable fraction of the results ;)

    • Re:QuestHelper (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rabbitbunny (1202531) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @11:53AM (#27279225)

      Christ, I thought you were just big headed since I've never heard of your addon.

      http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info9896-QuestHelper.html [wowinterface.com] 3,215,622 Downloads
      http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/quest-helper.aspx [curse.com] 20,949,412 Downloads
      http://wowui.incgamers.com/?p=mod&m=6145 [incgamers.com] 49,914 Downloads

      (balance this with Auctioneer, which has a paltry 12 million downloads..)

    • I think this is a mistake caused by Blizzard's overzealous legal team. I think, for some reason, Blizzard is terrified at the idea of anyone besides them making money on anything related to their game. I'm not sure why they're banning donation requests ingame but not out-of-game - I think they're just confused. However, they've killed off a good number of UI mods thanks to this, and I think ultimately this is going to hurt them quite a bit.

      I'm not going to deny that this will suck for you, and I do sympathize but honestly ... you're the outlier in the dataset. I would say there are only a handful of people in the world who derive their entire income from writing a lua plug-in for a MMORPG.

      The question you ask regarding why they would ban in-game donation requests is fairly simple - they don't want nagware running inside their game. Companies like Blizzard are very conscious of the "in-game experience" and want to control that as much as possi

      • Re:QuestHelper (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:16PM (#27279411) Homepage

        Companies like Blizzard are very conscious of the "in-game experience" and want to control that as much as possible.

        I agree with this, but keep in mind that UI mods are entirely voluntary - if someone doesn't like the donation nags, they can turn off QH. Also, fewer UI mods being available means, on average, a worse experience for players.

        As for it "hurting them", unfortunately I think you over-estimate how many of their 12 million users even use plug-ins, never mind base their continued patronage on their availability. I would be willing to bet that if they turned off the add-on API tomorrow, they'd lose less than 1% of their player base. There would be some grumbling from another 1% - 2%, but in the end it really wouldn't matter much.

        I estimate that Questhelper alone is used by 10-20% of the WoW player base. I think there would be more grumbling than you think.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Also, if there's any business managers out there who have a clever idea for how to still make a living off this, let me know. I'll pay you with a reasonable fraction of the results ;)

      I'm sure Blizzard would at least give you an interview. Sucks that you might have to move from the Bay Area to LA though. But if their quest UI is so painful that millions of people prefer yours, that's a damn good reason to hire you. I played WoW without any add-ons, but I had to use wowhead constantly to figure out how to do many of the quests. If it weren't for that website and thottbot I would've stopped playing long before I did.

      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)

        Oh, they probably would, but if I were going to work for someone else's game company, I'd have companies much further up my list than Blizzard ;)

        Doublefine, for example. Man, it's actually really tempting to try getting a job there. And I wouldn't even have to move! :D

    • by ukyoCE (106879)

      You might have a better idea than others about this then - my first thought seeing this "random" update, shortly after the battle.net account release, is that Blizzard is working on their own Steam.

      A desktop app with cross-game communication, perhaps queueing for BGs/instances outside of the game (maybe even with multiple toons at the same time, and play with whoever one pops for? maybe im dreaming here). They even mention "store" in the battle.net press release, so what are the odds they aren't going to r

    • I for one think the message upon logon is not intrusive at all and is quite tasteful (oppose that to other addons that popup messages saying they want donations). What I think you should do is not request donations in the message. Just say that QuestHelper is going to die without more money. You're not actually asking for money, just saying the truth... If people want to donate they can find it on your site.
  • They need to assert control over third party mods to prevent rampant account hijacking. Too many users are installing sketchy addons that steal account information for gold sellers, so "add-on code must be completely visible" is great.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As you say later that you don't play WoW, it's understandable that you don't know how addons work. They have no capability of communicating any stolen information to the outside world other than through in-game chat. This communication would be visible to the user and such an addon would be quickly be blacklisted. As another user pointed out, the only way they could get around this is to have the user download an EXE, and at that point it has nothing to do with Blizzard because that EXE doesn't even need

  • by Nakor BlueRider (1504491) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:03PM (#27279301)
    It's just conjecture of course, but from poking around a couple wow-specific boards and discussions going on there, it looks like the only two well-used add-ons this will affect are Carbonite and QuestHelper. QH apparently had a minor request for donation in-game that they will likely just remove. Carbonite however has full-on subscription plans they require for their "full" version. I looked around their site and forums [carboniteaddon.com] but couldn't find anything official as to what they're planning to do.

    Possibly impacted by this also is the bejeweled add-on; I don't believe this was open source?
    • Also nUI, which you can see by some posts on the WoW UI board. These are some of the most popular addon in terms of overall downloads. I believe QH may even be the most popular one.

  • Strikes me that the rule about not being allowed to charge for addons might be something that has come out of stories like this - iPhone App Causes Google To Shut Down SMS Service [slashdot.org].

    If there are loads of add-ons out there that a lot of people have paid a lot of money for, it kind of limits what Blizzard can do with the Wow add-on API. If they, for example, do something that disables or breaks an add-on that has been bought by 500,000 players for $10 a piece, they'd come under huge pressure to reinstate the
  • There is no contractual agreement between the add-on developer and Blizzard; what legal basis would Blizzard have for imposing any conditions?

    Note that FOSS licenses do not restrict what kinds of add-ons you can write for a piece of software or how you distribute your own code, they only impose conditions on you when you distribute someone else's code.

    • There is no contractual agreement between the add-on developer and Blizzard

      The terms of service of World of Warcraft are a contractual agreement. Without a WoW account, the add-on developer cannot test his work.

    • Every add-on developer, by necessity, launches the game client at some point or another. There is a terms of service agreement that can include all of this language.

    • Actually, after the awful Glider decision, they do have a lot of legal backing. They start out by claiming that they had to use WoW to create their software, thus breaking the ToS, thus not having a legal right to access the WoW server/content, thus breaking copyright by making an illegal copy in RAM. Then they provide their software which violates the ToS, facilitating other users also breaking the ToS, which amounts to each of those users also breaking the copyright. Leaving the original user open for

  • Don't like it (Score:3, Informative)

    by illegalcortex (1007791) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:20PM (#27279455)

    I may be in the minority (everybody loves free, right?), but I think this is a bad move. I really don't see it as fundamentally different from Apple deciding that all iPhone apps must be free.

    Banning users from charging for their addons is questionable. Banning users from even mentioning in-game that their addon relies on donations is just stupid. If you are familiar at all with WoW addons, you know that the author's site is in the minority of the places people get the addon from. There are a lot of 3rd party collection sites, and there a lot of 3rd party addon installers that install and update the addon for you. Basically, this is like if a different group made Windows Paintbrush and tried soliciting donations on their website. How likely is that that people will go there, see it and donate? Now imagine it was far more useful than paintbrush.

    The reason this is colossally stupid is twofold. First, if someone makes a commercial addon, other addon creators will see it and realize it's possible to clone. If it's a really good addon, they will clone it and release it for free. Sounds familiar, no? This is basically a large part of the way OSS works.

    The second reason is that addons become work, if the addon is at all complex and popular (aka useful). At some point, you're spending a lot of time supporting the addon that could be spent doing other work for money, playing WoW, or just actually enjoying your life. As codebases age, they definitely fall out of that "enjoying your life" category. This is why donations can actually motivate you to work on an addon when you would have otherwise abandoned it.

    The people who take a simplistic view that "other people shouldn't be making money off of Blizzard's hard work!" either do not understand or are too dogmatic to consider the reality. Addons add value to WoW. Blizzard makes money off of addons, be they free or pay, through increased subscriptions. There are numerous users who would stop playing if addons weren't around to make up for the deficiencies in WoW's UI. Addons also very frequently serve as their research department, as you will often see a new version of WoW incorporate the concepts of a popular addon.

    This will result in many popular addons being discontinued. It will result in many addon authors losing interest in the game (I used to build addons even once I had lost interest in actually playing.) It will result in many players dropping out of the game because of lack of addon support (WoW updates and UI code changes typically mean that an addon will stop working within a year of being abandoned).

    This is financially bad for Blizzard. However, if it's only 0.01% of their income, they will likely not care. I guess the new policy will be a good form of market research to see just how important the addon community is.

    BTW, this has already been discussed [worldofwarcraft.com] in much more detail by the people who actually make addons. For those who aren't in the community, I'd recommend you read it to see how it has already killed some popular addons that relied on donations.

    • Just my $0.02 worth.

      I've been using questhelper ever since it was released - I didn't realize how much effort you were putting into it, so reading your note here really helped put that into perspective, so I'm going to send you a donation.

      I suspect that if Blizzard is not going to re-evaluate parts of their decision, your only viable option is going to be to remove questhelper from sites like curse, and host them yourself so you ensure people see the note about donating. The downside is no automatic downlo

      • I think you clicked reply on the wrong comment. I'm not the author of QH. However, I have read a lot of his replies and he's already addressed your points. Taking your addon off of these sites and such is basically like taking your website out of google's search results. It's a death sentence. This is especially true since only a small percentage of people donate. A small percentage of an even smaller number drives it down to not being sustainable.

  • Half of my UI components that actually work well request donations.

    Under this design, the developers will be more encouraged to move on to some other project or game that doesn't care. In many cases I suspect that they will quit the game altogether as the mod they wrote was generating more money than they were paying out to blizzard and kept them playing in profit.

    What about mod promoting sites like Curse or Wowinterface that solicit money? Are they allowed to continue?

    Oh well. I suspect this is so blizz

  • ...that since MANY of the add-ons that are produced by the playerbase end up in the game as a "feature", they do not want anyone to have the ability to say "Your Honor, I can prove this line of code is mine for I have the sales receipts to prove it...", or something along those lines. Simply put, Blizzard does NOT want ANYONE asserting ANY rights, in any way, shape or form, in regards to their cash-cow. I'll cite an old example..

    Way back when, Ultima Online had volunteer "Counselors", players that would be

  • Um, this part is wrong:

    """
    But unlike FOSS, it adds other requirements that assert control over these independently coded programs, such as distribution and fees.
    """

    The GPL DOES put requirements on distribution. Maybe the poster should start actually reading these licenses instead of assuming what they say.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

Working...