Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Addon rules

As you most probably heard, Blizzard set new rules for addons. It was covered by Tobold, World of discourse, Broken Toys, WoWinsider and probably many others I don't read or forgot to mention.

So why write an seven-hundredth post? Because my opinion is completely different from theirs.

Let's get the obvious things out of the way: no one cries for obfuscated code, overloading servers, offensive content, or Eula-braking (cheating) addons. Well, some may do, but we don't like them anyway, so the louder they cry the louder we laugh.

On the other hand "the add-on cannot be sold for money, cannot spam ads and cannot beg for donations" part draw huge debate. People attack this position by reasoning like:
"And hackers do not view apps on platforms as extensions of the platform. While they are facilitated by the platform’s existence, they are quite independent of it. If the hacker feels like charging for something they build, why shouldn’t they be able to? Simple because the platform on which it exists, a platform specified entirely openly, is run by a certain corporation who is charging for access? From the hacker point of view, this makes very little sense: that would be akin to ISPs insisting sites not charges for user access, because the ISP already charges the users for access and supplies the platform." or "WoW is also a program running on the OS [operation system, not obsidian sanctum], so its equally wrong for charging for it, since they are leeching on the OS and hardware manufacturer's work".

At first, why this debate is important? Because some guys set up a business on that and this change kill that business. Since you are using platforms everywhere, even as you read this blog (electricity, ISP,, computer hardware, some OS, web browser), you must know if your business is safe from such killings.

I think the addons are different from normal products for two reasons, therefore killing businesses based on addons was a right thing.

At first, the normal product, although it uses some platform, it is platform independent by nature. WoW needs an operation system running, but it can be Windows, Mac OS, Linux (with Windows emulator). Theoretically WoW could be ported to any OS. This platform independence means that the product brings some new value to the customer that the original platform did not had. If the value would be in the platform X, than the product could not run on platform Y which lacks the mentioned value.

If the customers want that value they will need the underlying platform, so they will use it, so the demand for the platform will grow. It's quite possible that someone buys a new computer with new OS just to play WoW on it. It's quite obvious that without programs using an OS, the OS would be dead (Linux is struggling because of exactly that).

On the other hand, the addons are customizations of WoW, bringing no new value. Granted they are more handy than the WoW UI, but we could do everything with WoW UI. The only exceptions from this rule are the really pointless fun addons like Bejewelled, which are really new content. The point is that it's completely impossible that someone buys WoW just to be able to use QuestHelper. QuestHelper brings 0 new customers to WoW, so they have no reason to support it.

The second point is more complicated. In the real world every product that solves a problem of the customer is welcomed. On the other hand WoW is not a real world, but a game, a simulated competitive environment. Everyone must accept the rules, exactly to make the simulation running. The point of a simulation is not to solve real problems but to teach the people skills and have fun.

A program that autopilot an airplane through an emergency landing would be a wonderful thing. A code that would "autopilot" the flight simulator through an emergency landing would be a disaster, as it would make unskilled pilots pass the tests.

Any tool that solves the simulated problem decreases the simulation efficiency. With Game Master rights one could kill all bosses with one click. If there would be a cheat addon available that would allow oneshotting bosses, the game would be pointless and dead. The very point of the game is that killing the boss needs some skill and effort.

This creates an akward situation: the best addons are the best because they help the users the most. On the other hand they do it exactly by making their simulated work too simple. QuestHelper was popular because it saved more time for the players than any other. But it did by removing the exploration part from the game. The leveling became much faster and much less fun. You just run where the arrow points, like an errand boy. On the other hand if you refuse to use QuestHelper, you become uncompetitive, your peers level much faster. Same with Deadly Boss Mods. You run when it says, you cast when it says, you decurse when it says. No improvization, no learning, no challenge. If you are able to read and follow simple instructions, you are good to go. If Blizzard tolerates it, the game either turn trivial and annoying, or addon-addict. With splash damage, healing became addon dependent. Result: healers watch 25 health bars instead of the game.

QuestHelper and such addons, are not value-adds, but kind of cheats that decrease the value of WoW, causing damage to Blizzard. They are abusing the game, just like Glider, even if not in a such rampart way.

Summary: if you want to make a product without fearing that the platform owner shuts you down, simply be sure that you do not decrease the value of the platform. The UI facelifts, chat reminders, spamblockers, the Auctioneer, Atlasloot has nothing to fear. On the other hand questhelpers, bossfight and arena addons, decursers, healgrids and such turns the magic world of Azeroth into a "do-this-do-that-just-because-the-dispatcher-says life of an errand boy".


Gx1080 said...

Honestly, thats a good argument, one that i havent looked before. And lets stop to think, what are we doing? Following arrows, pushing buttons when we are pointed to do. Jeez, have you stopped to look at your UI. The addons turned it into a spaceship HUD, and its hours for the new users for researching and installing new addons.

That without mentioning all the farming: farming rep, farming dailies, farming dungeons (granted, with gold you can stop doing the last two) but i see so many people that do it, that, well i pay money for having fun, not a second job. Although its weird seeing Gevlon talking about the fun in the game.

Anonymous said...

I think your argument is beside the point. Blizzard has nothing againt Addons, on the contrary, they encourage addons. They just want to exclude some addons with specific content. And that excluded content is different from what you describe in your post. Not "cheating"-Addons are exluded, but addons containing advertisements, soliciting donations in game etc. This may have the secondary effect, that some "cheating"-Addons will not exist any longer, but that is not the purpose of Blizzard's rules.
- Michael

Mark said...

From what I've read in various places, Blizzard implemented their new rules to kill the Carbonite addon, which had a premium version that you could pay for to get extra help (or something like that. I never used it, personally). I also believe that they were advertising the premium version IN-game (not a surprise). So, in order to cut this practice from WoW, Blizzard had to affect a lot of other addons. It's sort of like chemotherapy. You kill good cells along with the bad to get rid of the cancer.

Kurt said...

"This may have the secondary effect, that some "cheating"-Addons will not exist any longer, but that is not the purpose of Blizzard's rules."

Firstly, where did Gevlon say that WAS the purpose of Blizzard's rules? He points out two problems with an analogy some people made, than made a side point about the kinds of addons that were in danger next. Nothing about Blizzard's purpose. Secondly, even if he had mentioned Blizzard's purpose, one could make the argument that Blizzard chose these specific addons to target initially as the first step in a larger crusade against a larger group of addons. I.e., they ban these addons to establish the idea in people's minds that blizzard sometimes bans entire groups of addons and get them used to the concept, then next month they will ban the beloved questhelper and DBM.

Beltayn said...

"Although its weird seeing Gevlon talking about the fun in the game."

I think Gevlon stopped caring about the 'fun' in the game when they started trying to make the game fun for morons.

Personally I'm quite happy with the change. All the brouhaha about it confuses me. I mean, you're complaining that they're taking your livelihood away? Then why did you base your livelihood on somebody else's game? Seriously? Go get a job!

Addons should be small, simple programs written by fans. Not epic game-changing behemoths that require an entire paid software team to maintain.

I run my system with the bare minimum of addons for various reasons. One, that I'm playing WoW as it's intended to be played. When the day comes that I NEED a specific addon to play, I'll quit the game because either their UI sucks abysmally, or my skill has dropped to the same level as a potplant.

I use Omen threatmeter and recount now and then, but honestly, if they ceased working tomorrow, it would actually be for the better. Folks would have to learn to handle their threat with their brains like we used to in the past (remember "Wait for Two sunders"? -- Heck, we even have a minimal built in threatmeter in the game now) and they'd have to stop obsessing over their DPS and learn to play the game again.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point platsic rat....if dps meters like recount etc didnt exist, then omen wouldnt be as important, because the e-peen competitions over dps meters would perhaps cease to happen, therefore as soon as the "Hgh threat" warning from the standard UI came up, you could just hold off dps for a few seconds, without worrying about ridicule for doing 100 less dps than you should !

But....from changes to the combat log blizzard did in (I think it was) 2.4 , its clear they support meters and other stuff like wws

Marty said...

I have very little of value to add to what has already been said, but I felt the need to compliment you on possibly the most well rounded article regarding the new addon rules. Thanks, definitely gave me a perspective I hadn't seen before.

Jasi said...

Gelvon, you missed one point. Addons like questhelper certainly don't generate new revenue for Blizzard, but customer retention is another matter. I've heard people huffing about "I won't play wow without this or that addon." Of course most of that is internet tough guy talk, but some percentage may stop playing/paying if their favorite addon is discontinued.

My only problem with the entire blizzard doc is an unobtrusive text based in game solicit for donation shouldn't have been excluded. Bandwidth isn't free, nor is anyone's time free. Its not the Goblin Way to produce something at no reward. Addon makers should have the option to be Goblins in a nitche market, but now Blizzard has required them to be Friendly Helpfull Ppl.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous Michael and with Kurt: your argument is could work but unrelated to banning addons because they are charging money.

In fact, as posters have already pointed out, there is no sign that Blizzard minds too much what help people get by using addons. DBM, Omen, Lightheaded (quest helper mod) all make the game easier and there has never been any problem with them.

However, if there are really helpful addons that players have to pay for, then that would be a big problem. Say encounter X would be much easier with addon A than without. So all players who want to master X quickly will have to pay for A. First of all this would be such an obvious unleveling of the playing field that players would be up in arms about it. Second, it reeks of microtransactions which Blizzard tries to stay away from; they'll definitely want to stay away from that if the money doesn't go into their own pockets.

Carra said...

No no and no.

Addons are fixing holes in WoWs UI. And people put tons of work into them. Only normal if someone wants some compensation for their time.

"Making it easy". No! Blizzard assumes you are using a healing grid, threat meters,... Just try to play an affliction lock without a DOT meter and tell me it's not a fault in the default UI. It's unplayable without one.

On the whole levelling thing. I just want to get my alt to 80 asap. If some addon will do that, great. If some website gives me the best levelling way (James guide = great!) then great. I don't care if I miss the exploration, already did that.

Besides, saying that making things easier adds no new value makes no sense. Adding value is often making things easier! Sure I could manually search my bags and change each gear piece if I want to tank. Or I could click one button in ItemRack. It makes it easier, faster and thus saves my time (& thus money). If it saves you an hour a month and you sponsor the author with $1. Is your time really worth less then $1 a month?

Gevlon said...

Only really helpful, "cheating" addons can get money from people. No one would pay for a facelift addon, especially many are available.

So by banning paying addons, they removed strong motive from developing such addons.

Facelift and fun addons are mostly developed by fans, who use it too. On the other hand cheating addons are not needed by the author himself. Since the author of QuestHelper must know where Mankirk's wife is (otherwise he couldn't put it into his addon), he does not need his addon.

So no paying: no cheater addons.

Anonymous said...

You are so wrong this time it hurts!

By some cosmic mystery game developers are unable to make good UIs. Wow original UI was horrible and so are most of the UIs on other MMORPGs. WOW UI is now a step above the other's BECAUSE of the addon community, Blizzard has blatantly improved their own UI by using ideas from their own free game improving programmers, ie, the addon creators.

Raid bars
Target of Target
Extra Bars
Combat Text
Improved Combat Log
Quest log tracking

to name a few examples from the top of my head. Addons are good for WOW, they make WOW unique, they make you think twice before going back to a UI you didn't choose, bars you don't like and zero UI fluff. IF you take addons from wow then wow will have to stand on their content alone. Not a nice prospect IMO.

Sinkael said...

This is honestly the first post of yours that I have agreed with 100%. Usually I feel like you are on the right track but you forget or simply ignore the human element of business.

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

@Gavlon's response.

How about a goblin bet?

I give it 4 patches until QuestHelper-like functionality becomes a standart feature of WOW's UI. Before u take that bet let me tell u Everquest II, LOTRO and Warhammer already have it built-in.
It's not about cheating addons, Questhelper is a levelling addon just like reduced experience until lvl70, DKs starting lvl, Refer a friend, BoA items... Blizzard wants you to lvl fast.

Name a bet I can pay on either Azjol-Nerub or Grim Batol and I'll take it.

Jasi said...


I was working on a comment along the same lines. QH is an addon in wow, but much of its functionality is built into similar games in the mmo genre. Calling it a cheater addon seems really stretching the definition of cheating. I'd equate QH to questing as Auctioneer is to the Auction House portion of the game. It just helps you play that part of the game a little more efficiently.

Not to mention the in game quest tracking system is being updated in 3.1. It won't include the arrows to the quest objective, but as past history has shown, things that at one time have simplified great portions of the game are now being integrated into the default UI.

Tobold said...

So why write an seven-hundredth post? Because my opinion is completely different from theirs.

Completely different? You're flattering yourself. Just hope that nobody actually follows that link to my blog and see that I already mentioned your central point of addons making WoW (and especially raiding) too easy.

Sydera said...

On the healing addons:

Ghostcrawler has recognized in several posts that the default UI needs to be updated and changed, because they don't want addons to be required for healing. In developer speak, that means that in the current state of things, addons are required for healing. You simply can't see buffs and debuffs well enough in the default UI to react quickly enough. The content has essentially been tuned for Grid/Pitbull/Xperl/Healbot etc users. Despite months of admitting that the healing UI needs work, what changes have the developers made? None.

Addons add value by letting designers of the game ignore some core problems, like poor interface design--forever. What about the players who would have quit WoW without the addons? It helps them retain their players.

HP said...

The thing is that even without addons, the default Blizzard UI also approaches healing as 25 green bars =X So honestly, not much of a fundamental difference there. As for whether it is fair for Blizzard to insist add on developers not to profit from their add ons, I guess they are trying to nip some potential problem in the bud, though I don't know what...

Dorgol said...

I heal all end game content as a Holy Paladin. And I do so with the default UI.

I have raided since Molten Core as a Warlock (Affliction, Destruction, AND Demonology at different times). And I have done so with the default UI.

Saying the game CANNOT be played without certain mods is blatantly false.

However, I tend to agree with Hombre as to the mod policy change. They aren't trying to kill QuestHelper or "cheat" addons - they are trying to kill the "pay or you can't use" addons.

Imagine if Blizzard DIDN'T kill Carbonite and it's premium version. Imagine if the creators of Grid realized they were sitting on a goldmine and then created a new (better) version that required $2. All of a sudden those players who insist that WoW is impossible to play without Grid will have to pay extra money.

I also tend to think QuestHelper WILL be integrated into WoW in the future. Not that it's necessary, if people would actually READ the quests they would know where to go. But that's a whole other topic.

Anonymous said...

@Yzi - I'll explain the cosmic mystery to you about game makers building poor UI's. First off, it isn't just game makers. It is all software developers that require a UI. Almost all of them suck. Why? Because it is damn hard to do.

To prove my point, I'll use Blizzard. Here you have a company that takes an enormous amount of pride in their games. Fun, challenging, yet easy to play are their mantras. They make money hand over fist, so they have it to spend. So how come they still can't come up with the perfect UI? It isn't lack of trying or them not understanding something. It is because they have limited resources...they will likely hire any and all good software developers and UI people. Check their Employment Opps page. There are always lots of positions open.

On top of that, look at the sheer magnitude of this game. It is ENORMOUS. They cannot focus solely on UI.

So, what happens? They release the best MMORPG the world has ever seen, and still it has flaws. But, because they build in the opportunity for UI add-ons, they opened up the entire world to be their UI designers and developers. So, of course, when you have the whole world potentially developing UI, it can only get better. And that is also why they take the best ideas and incorporate them into the core game.

Anonymous said...

As an actual user of the premium version of carbonite, I think there is a bit of things people are missing.

The normal version of Carbonite is basically cartographer and quest helper put together. It's decent, but I wouldn't call it better. Now, if they were advertising the premium in game then yeah, that should be removed.

Your grid comparison isn't apples to apples. Say, if grid opened a site, you can submit a picture, drawing, or outline of what you want grid to look like in the config, and for 2$, they'll set it up for you and give you the WTF files you need, would you buy it? All the premium version of carbonite does is combine a very large amount of other addons, and I do say, it's coded properly to not take an insane amount of space.

The premium version to me is worth the cost as it saves me a large amount of time tracking down the addons needed to do the same thing. And this is all done by one author and well, so yeah, I'll pay for that kind of ui that fills in every hole I see in the UI.

Advertising in game? Yeah, to far. Asking for payment for an upgraded version of the addon? Well, if there is a base and a demand, well why not? Most likely, the Carbonite folks got a little carried away when they saw cash and started pushing ads in game where they made their own downfall.

But until WoW adds in at least half of what premium carbonite can do, they'll still get my 12$ a year as long as their around.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Blizzard DIDN'T kill Carbonite and it's premium version. Imagine if the creators of Grid realized they were sitting on a goldmine and then created a new (better) version that required $2. All of a sudden those players who insist that WoW is impossible to play without Grid will have to pay extra money.
IMHO that's very well valid. You are still free to use the older, not updated addon and incorporate changes. It's not like someone could force you to get the new version for money

Graylo said...

Many people have mentioned the Carbonite issue, but I think that is the straw that broke the camels back rather then the actual issue that blizzard is trying to fix.

I wonder if this is more a move to prevent future litigation then a move prevent people from making money. Really, Addons do enhance the game and help blizzard maintain their player base. For example with out mods like DBM and Big Wigs then raiders would fail more and stop playing. Therefore Blizzard likes those mods because it helps to maintain their subscriptions.

While addons help blizzard they also represent a pretty big risk. If an addon becomes really popular with millions of people using it then it is obviously a useful tool, and blizzard may want to consider including it in the default UI. This is exactly whats happening with the last few content patches. In 3.0.2 blizzard introduced a threat meter. In 3.1, there is an ingame version of Outfitter.

Now, I am not a lawyer, but taking over these addons poses a copywrite issue.

I'm sure there is language in the Terms of Use agreements and such that try and prevent this interpretation, but that doesn't eliminate the risk of a lawsuit. There are tons of illigal agreements written into contracts all the time that wouldn't be inforced if a lawsuit was actually filed. Even if it is enforcable it would still cost thousands of dollars to defend the case in court.

So, if you take all that into account, blizzards best defense is obvious.

Most Addon developers are small informal operations that don't make a ton of money. If blizzard desides to take over an addon as a part of the standard UI, there is nothing the addon maker can really do about it because they don't have the money to fight blizzard in court. Blizzard's protection is this David vs Goliath relationship it has with the addon developers.

Now if the Carbonite model succeeds and they start generating real revenue from subscriptions or from adds, they upset the balance. Suddenly an addon developer is able to fight blizzard and blizzard has the potential to lose a lot of money in legal fees, and even more money if the addon developer wins.

So in my opinion this isn't about addons making the game to easy or "taking the fun" out of the game. Its about money and blizzard trying to maintain its dominance over the market.


Anonymous said...


your comment makes it clear how your original post relates to banning addons that make money.

However, I still don't think you are right. The correlation between addons you have to pay for and 'cheating' addons is a very iffy one at best. Many addons that make playing easier, such as DBM, Omen, Grid and Lightheaded, are free and are, I'm guessing, also useful for the addon-developers themselves. Besides, if I understand it correctly, Carbonite Premium is not more 'cheating' than the regular version. So banning payment for addons does not target all the 'cheating' addons, and some addons targeted by banning payment are not made for 'cheating' at all.

Yeah, those are two different things.

I think both the explanation Dorgol and I gave, and Graylo's argument, address the question of the ban much better. They both deal with banning paying addons, instead of your slightly convoluted and iffy reasoning about 'cheating' addons.

We could argue about this for some time, but we don't need to. I very much support Yzi's suggestion for a bet - I'd say that if Blizzard introduces any 'cheating' addons as part of the basic UI in 3.2 or 3.3, you would be proven wrong. What do you say?

P.S. That wouldn't show that either Graylo or I am right, of course :-).

re are too many 'cheating' addons

Sinkael said...

Copyright law already has a built in protection for copyright holders like Blizzard.

It is called "Derivative Work", it is the same reason you can not go out and make World of Warcraft 2 without Blizzards permission.

Each addon is just that, a addon to Blizzards work. Blizzard has the right to say exactly what you can and can not do with it, because your code only exists at the behest of the Blizzard powers that be. No need to worry about defending in court as Blizzard is starting out on the top of the hill and anyone who would dream of suing would have a tough climb, not to mention I can't think of a single lawyer who would be willing to take the case to begin with.

Now, IANAL, but I worked as a paralegal for one for a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, the addons are customizations of WoW, bringing no new value." --- Gevlon.

This is false. Any modification of a product that improves its performance is a value added addition. Increased player retention, entertainment, and interest in the main product promotes the base work done by the company and extends its working life and brings in new customers. In every other category of product this is demonstrated. The most successful company products are those that encourage the ability to "spin-off" added functionality.

This is most clearly demonstrated by the newest piece of Apple technology the iPhone, iTouch. They have created a market that directly sells the apps produced by third parties.... controlling the tech ... generating revenue ... and developing new cabilities by allowing other people to experiment in ways a large company can't always devote resources to. It is an interesting note that the main functionality of the iPhone is only half of the advertisement for the device. IMO the most effective part of the Apple ads involve the demonstrations of the 3rd party apps. Blizzard has done exactly the same thing with their add-ons in the past.

This change will effect the add-on community. A number of sites like gatherer, auctioneer (a goblin's tool I'm sure), and atlas to name a few are supported in part by donations. I have never seen blatant attempts to advertise by the majority of the add-on developers. I expect that we will see most of the truly polished addons decline as this rule takes hold.

Blizzard began this game with a UI that was a terrible failure as evidenced by the fact that hardly anyone used it after the first add-ons were developed. Over the years they have essentially farmed out the entire UI development to the add-on developers and slowly appropriated all of the best ideas into the UI they have now. To come back after 4 years and tell some who has supported the game and helped it that the $1 donation some-one freely makes isn't allowed amounts to small time greed on the part of a billion dollar enterprise... There are better ways to control the issues that arise from addons like Carbonite.

Graylo said...


Again, could be wrong, but I don't think "Derivative Work" applys.

First off, creating WoW2 is completely different then creating an addon for WoW1.

Second, even if it is a "Darivative Work" that doesn't mean the Author isn't protected. I think this quote for Wikipedia applys fairly closely to a WoW addon example:

"In Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc.,[9] the appellate court held that it was a fair use for owners of copies of video games, such as Super Mario Bros., to use Galoob's product the Game Genie to customize the difficulty or other characteristics of the game by granting a character more strength, speed, or endurance. Nintendo strongly opposed Galoob's product, allegedly because it interfered with the maintenance of the "Nintendo Culture," which Nintendo claimed was important to its marketing program.[10] The court held, among other things, that the fair use defense shielded Galoob's conduct. The court said that "a party who distributes a copyrighted work cannot dictate how that work is to be enjoyed. Consumers may use ... a Game Genie to enhance a Nintendo Game cartridge’s audiovisual display in such a way as to make the experience more enjoyable.""

After reading this example I can see how it could easily by applied to WoW and addon developers. WoW is copywrited content, but it can't dictate how players enjoy that content, and addons just enhance the game play experiance.

Again, I could be completely wrong in how the law would be applied in the end, but one thing is clear to me. It is easy to see how a suit would be filed and it would cost blizzard money to defend. Limiting the profitability of addons limits the risk of addons.

In fact, after reading that quote I wonder if WoW's addon policy is even legal.


Gevlon said...

@Graylo: I think you got a point that addon developers could grow too strong for Blizzard's good.

On the other hand Blizzard's addon policy don't have to be legal, since they don't need to defend it at any court. They can kill any addon, by changing the LUA scripting platform to make the addon no longer run.

Since they never promised to make the platform static, the addon developer cannot do anything about it. With the policy they just clarified what they tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is flawed and misses a major value that something like QuestHelper added.

Having leveled 2 characters to 80, 4 to 70, and 5 to 45, trying to remember which foozel is where for kill quests, or where Sargent Jones is for a quest turn in is not fun. I am seeing some of this content for the 5th time.

My fun, on alt, isn't running around trying to find where the quest is.

The first time through content part of the reward is exploration--the 5th time through it the reward is incremental progress and knowing I am closer to my goal of having another character I can raid with.

This does attack Blizzards profitability--alt play is all that is keeping some players around. Make alt leveling harder than needed, on explored quests and content, and you will loose them.

Yes first time players may loose out on some of that exploration--but its the social connections that keep people playing. First timers may loose out grinding time to get to 80--but at 80 they find a huge chunk of the population.

You are incorrect about QuestHelper not bringing value. Even net value I would say is positive for Blizzard.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand Blizzard's addon policy don't have to be legal, since they don't need to defend it at any court. They can kill any addon, by changing the LUA scripting platform to make the addon no longer run.

Since they never promised to make the platform static, the addon developer cannot do anything about it. With the policy they just clarified what they tolerate."

But, they may be required to defend their EULA or TOS in a court. Anyone could sue them over that, which would cost them money to defend.

On the other hand, they could not even have a EULA or TOS and just terminate the add-ons as they see fit, as you mentioned. But, then they would risk losing/angering customers who would wonder why their add-on suddenly stop working.

Let's face it, this issue is too complicated. How come they can do this, but car makers can't sue AutoZone for making/selling third-party parts that work on their, obviously someone else is making money off their original product. I guess the difference is that when you buy a car, you own ALL of it. When you buy software, you don't really own it, you are allowed to use it under certain conditions. And, in the case of an MMO where you must connect to a central server, you own even less.

Graylo said...


True, Blizzard could do a lot of things by changing the LUA structure, but I better there a lot of issues with that.

Namely, how do you prevent one addon from doing one thing you don't like, but allow several others do something you do like?

For example, I imagine that the process to have Lightheaded access WoWhead is very similar to the process that would allow Carbonite to display ads. Therefore it might be difficult to block Carbonite but allow Lightheaded to continue to work.

Its the law of unintended consequences. Changing the LUA will probalby a greater impact than they intend or have no impact at all.

Personally, I think Bliz likes the addon developers and supports most of their activites. In fact, blizzard has made changed that help specific addon. Rememer when DBM couldn't track the orbs during Void Reaver anymore? Blizzard made changed in the combat log to fix it.

I think blizzard treats the addon makers as unpaid blizzard development. When one of them comes up with something truly great or useful Blizzard takes it and puts it into the standard UI. They have done it many times over the past 4 or 5 years. However, if addons start getting made by for profit corporations blizzard will have a harder time taking the information even if the break the old addon.

Either way it doesn't really matter. I doubt a whole lot will change in the end. I think it is mainly a scare tactic and gives blizzard to take action against addons they don't like. The addon developers taht are quiting were probalby close to quiting already. The Outfitter guy basically didn't have a product anymore because of 3.1.


Hagu said...

Hmm, so if the manufacturer of the XBox decided that you could not charge for MMOs that ran on their operating system, Windows, that would be legal? ethical? in their customer's best interest?

I think Blizzard is in no legal jeopardy, but it is not quite as sinple as "there exist an EULA."

The US legal doctrine on what is called tieing is whether there is a separate market - the example is that is legal for an automaker to require you to purchase an engine with the car. However, it is illegal for the manufacturer to prevent you from buying an aftermarket radio from someone else. Same car, same car vendor, different legal rules - difference is whether there is a distinct market.

Similarly, contracts that are used to enforce anti-trust are not enforceable.

On a customer perspective -
I don't see how this will make more developers create/support non-trivial addons? So I can't see how to strech the logic enough to where it benefits Blizzard's or its customers.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon.... you DO realize that the makes of Auctioneer... an addon that you yourself use constantly... ask for donations on their website.

Thus, as the new rules, they can either stop and put the effort into making it for free, or the addon is against the terms of service.

Goodbye auctioneer. :-)

Anonymous said...

Attempting to correlate cheating with "addon's made by creators who ask for payment or donations " is stupid. It is completely without logic.

There is no correlation. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. By definition addons cannot change any of the information going from server to client or vice versa, or it is a hack and thus cheating. Hack's are already not allowed.

Addon's organize information. That is it. They display information in an easily accessible manner. The creators of Auctioneer, or Xperl, or Fubar, etc, asking for donations to help subsidize the cost of their invested time doesn't change what their addons dom or how their work.

Blizzards ban on addons that create revenue for their creators is not a move to reduce cheating. It is a goblinesque move to not let others get money the blizzard see's as theirs.

If Gevlon wanted a real goblinesque post he should have just said that said addon creators are infringing on Blizzard business, rather then use touchy feelly anti-cheating crap to justify Blizzards actions.

Yaggle said...

I could not agree more. I run ZERO addons because I always have believed that they took away from the game experience. I work the Auction house without Auctioneer and I do my quests without Quest Helper. I can memorize things myself and figure out things for myself. I would rather that everybody have the same UI tools but I understand people want the freedom to choose UI improvements. Blizzard should do a better job of improving their UI so that people do not want to install addons. But the UIs help people too much, they are like nannies always having a bottle there to feed the baby if it is hungry. Maybe if Blizzard won't ban addons outright, they should make special carebear servers for people who need addons.

Sherry said...

Goodbye auctioneer. :-)

I heard that addon makers could still ask for donations on their website, just not in the game.

Gevlon, I was thinking that perhaps instead of the windows analogy, a better one would perhaps be of consoles. Say if you were to develop a game for the PS3 or xbox360, the game would be based on the underlying platform. While the game is separate from the console in that you could have Guitar Hero on both the PS3 and XBox or even handhelds like the nintendo ds, for you to do the transfer it would require a lot of re-coding.

Similarly, in a different game with similar questing or auctioning systems with the freedom to develop addons, you might see equivalent addons to Questhelper or Auctioneer. As it would just take re-coding also, in that sense, certain aspects of the addons that are developed are indeed separate from world of warcraft.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

Carbonite is a collection of addons, that work together right? So why should they charge for you to access other people's free addons? Just cause they "put it together"? Those addons could sue them for their cut of the money no?

And WoW does take ideas from the addon community, and rewrites (not copies) the functionality of the addon. In fact if you look in your addon folder, the Auctionhouse itself is an addon of wow.

As for asking for donations, it is not the same as charging for an addon.

The issues I see are addons that spam your text chat, like questhelper does, asking for donations, or from a previous addon change they did, addons that play the game for you.

The gamegenie case changes from vs nintendo to the case of WoW.

This is an MMO, an addon that gives YOU an advantage over me, is not acceptable for blizzard. They have stated this, so things like Warriorbutton were made nonfunctioning in the game by taking out using certain scripting while in combat.


Addons for WoW are written using LuA scripting language, so it's more that just changing one line of code, it's writing a new addon. Though the idea of functionality may be the same, it doesn't suddenly make auctioneer separate form WoW.

You can't compare a video game to an addon. WoW isn't a platform to play addons, addons aren't even new content to wow, they're not a new raid, or a new battleground, or a special mob you fight, they add nothing to the game in that sense.

This topic is about alot of separate issues all involving addons. So it's hard to cover them all in one post.

Hagu said...

My understanding is that while carbonite is a collection of components they were all written by the carbonite team.

If Blizzard is going to allow addons, then aren't they by definition going to benefit the person that installed them? With the exception of Microsoft Vista, people tend to not install things that will hurt them. Is the argument that addons should be allowed, but only if they don't work? (prohibiting all addons would be logicaly consistent, and would cause problems but would also give benefits with performance and testing. ) So the argument is that Gevlon et al want to benefit the people who are too lazy or ignorant to install addons? For the sake of equality? If this were arenas I could understand it. My impression is that someone with a new computer, with lots of memory and a great video card on a cable modem has a dramatic advantage over someone with an old computer on dial up - far more than any addon. Wouldn't the same protect the casuals via socialism "logic" say that all performance should be degraded so that someone with a better machine doesn't have an advantage? Is the goal to achieve equality? Or just hassle people who dont play the game the way you do?

Anonymous said...

i barely use any addons and i`m glad blizzard implements them in the interface, i already deleted Omen and i`m planning to get rid of wardrobe after the patch. i find DBM the most useful.
questhelper and such are an insult to any person that can read, the quests are so well written that it takes you 30 sec to skim the text and find the place/mob/item needed. if all fails, head over to wowhead or thottbot.

Bill said...

"questhelper and such are an insult to any person that can read" and then

"if all fails, head over to wowhead or thottbot."

Why can't that read: "if all fails, switch questhelper back on". I don't see the difference between an in game database that points out coordinates, and manually searching for something and using a coord mod to tell you where the mob spawns.