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Reader Comments (33)

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 8:43AM (Unverified) said

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First of all, mod developers ARE allowed to solicit donations on their own websites, not in game. You seem to keep missing this in the Blizzard press release.

Second, these developers are generating a product based on the work and money spent by Blizzard on their own product, basically profiting off Blizzard's work.

Look at it this way. When I was attending college for my degree, any film, screenplay or television show I produced with college equipment was property of the school simply because I was using their equipment and other professional resources. Other institutions do this as well. Starbucks, for example, owned the rights to the Frappuccino because the people who created it were employees working at Starbucks using their materials.

I see no difference between this and what Blizzard has decided. Yes, it sucks that inspiration is not rewarded by these companies, but these companies had inspiration of their own and people should not profit off of that at the exclusion of the employees of that company.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 11:41AM (Unverified) said

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On one hand, you're right. It is somewhat similar to those things and is completely within blizzard's rights. On the other hand, don't forget that these addons are making WoW a better game. So Blizzard is making money off of these people's work as well.

It's legal, since as mentioned, it's their game and they make the rules, however I think it's morally repugnant. We see many large corporations squelching people like this these days because IP law lets them, but just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right or just.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2009 6:21PM Kalkyrie said

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That is a very illumating example.

The advice I would give to someone studying at an University with one of those policies is to not tell the University about any ideas you have, and instead create them off-campus. Then you can get the benefits of your work, and not lose them to the people you *borrowed the camera* from. Aren't you/the government already paying them money to educate you?
I've heard of one University (Imperial College London) pulling that trick you mentioned to gain rights over *anything* you invent while at that University, using their resources or not.

So anyway, I'd recommend to anyone with a bright idea on how to improve World of Warcraft that they patent the idea (lawyers out there- should that be copyright?), and license it to Blizzard. Paying you a few thousand dollars will save them a lot of time writing their own from scratch.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2009 8:57AM MrGutts said

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Mod devs should slap a license on the mod so the mega company like blizzard can't just take the idea and slap it in game. Wait that is patent law. Yeah they should patent every mod!

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 9:13AM Drexel said

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It's going to be pretty tough to slap a license or patent on a mod that can only function within the environment of WoW. Not to mention the code for writing mods is probably proprietary. If you remove the client from the picture these mods are just a notepad document.

Posted: Mar 26th 2009 2:35AM (Unverified) said

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"It's going to be pretty tough to slap a license or patent on a mod that can only function within the environment of WoW. Not to mention the code for writing mods is probably proprietary. If you remove the client from the picture these mods are just a notepad document."

That's a terrible argument. WoW wont work without Windows or OSX, but Blizzard aren't beholden to Apple or MS.

And for what it's worth, the language isn't proprietry, it's LUA, a free MIT-licenced language.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2009 9:23AM Halldorr said

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I like the change or at least Blizzard bringing it up. While I don't use any mods that have asked for donations in game I have donated to two mod sites with one being Auctioneer. The people that will be most pissed off will be those like Carbonite and those leveling guides. I still have no idea why anyone would pay for something like Carbonite anyway when all the info is on sites like wowhead.com

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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"On the other hand, the base UI at launch was, in my opinion, horrid."

Um, what? "Horrid?" Seriously? What game at WoW's launch had a better UI? Or even an equivalent one?


Re: getting paid to make a mod: When I played WoW for for first 2 years it was out, mod makers made mods because they wanted to, not for donations or anything. Yeah, a few had "if you feel like it, donate" on their website, but whatever. If you have a guy on your mod team who created a bizdevplan that expects payment for each person who uses your mod, you have one too many people on your mod team. Your bizdev guy should have seen the potential for this to occur.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 10:40AM (Unverified) said

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I keep reading that Blizzard added some addons funcionality to thier standard UI and some say they 'stole' the idea from other addons. Afaik all these added features had already been requested by users in the forums long before anyone actually wrote such an addon. So in fact Blizzard simply reacts to public requests, just much later than the addon authors do.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 10:43AM Thac0 said

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I don't understand the logic of why mods shouldnt be paid for. Somebody took the time to study WoW and write code and make graphics to enhance the game. They should be paid for their time, effort and the products of their labor. Saying you can't charge for mods of get donations is liek saying its illegal for you to install after market parts on your car because the original manufacturer says so and only want you to buy their parts. Its the same with Mod code etc.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 10:44AM Anatidae said

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I would be interested to see if Blizzard could actually prevent someone from selling a Mod in the court of law.

Mods are programmed in LUA, which is not a Blizzard invented language. LUA is what SecondLife, Warhammer, and others use as well for their interface scripting language.

If I make a mouse that I advertise will let you play better with WoW, I don't think Blizzard can come after me either. I can probably sell a energy drink to help players stay more alert. And if I make a mod that lets someone keep track of their in-game stats, well, I bet that would be a hard fight for Blizzard.

I dunno. It seems Blizzard is running a fine line there. Mod makers should just protest and stop. See how that pans out.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 11:03AM venekor said

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They should just sell the tools out to developers so they can create mods and charge for them like game engines.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 11:33AM (Unverified) said

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I think that Blizzard should be thanking those who have worked to make WoW what it is today. Without a great deal of effort on the part of many people I have no doubt that WoW would have not been as successful (no, I'm not saying they'd only have a million subs, duh) as it has been. I agree that the UI at release WAS horrid, and as for "what game was better" EverQuest II launched *before* WoW and had a better UI. In addition, the API is far more restricted, so you never had people running decursive mods! EVE Online has a perfectly suitable UI that *doesn't even need mods* because it's got everything you need. THAT is synergy in game design and user interface!

I wrote up my full thoughts a couple days ago:

http://corwynn-maelstrom.com/2009/03/23/blizzard-just-says-no-four-years-later/

Posted: Apr 9th 2009 1:17AM (Unverified) said

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"Second, these developers are generating a product based on the work and money spent by Blizzard on their own product, basically profiting off Blizzard's work."

Well the inverse can be said as well; Blizzard is profiting off of the hard work of independent developers. Lets face it, the vast majority of players use add-ons. Without these add-ons the game's UI is not very user friendly. Not everyones brain works the same way or organizes information in the same manner. Therefore, it can be said that player retention is due to not only the new content that Blizzard has invested in, but the flexibility to use and modify tools to make the game more fun.

Add-ons benefit the player which then benefits Blizzard's bottom line. I understand where this is coming from though. You have add-ons like Carbonite and Zygor's Guides that charge you for a subscription, but include the add-ons "for free" as part of the subscription. This, in my opinion, is contradictive to spirit and intent of Blizzard using LUI and an open API to create tools.

I do feel that not allowing a developer to add a NAG window during start-up or a Chat message (i.e. QuestHelper) is going overboard. Nag screen are not new to shareware or freeware development. Afterall, how many of us have actually gone to the developer's website. Usually you get your add-on from Curse, Wowinterface, or some other website or update utility. Not to mention that I like the idea of not having to give out an email address to register each add-on.

Blizzard needs to rethink this. Enforcing a "not for sale" policy would be easy enough, after all, they control the Client.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 11:46AM (Unverified) said

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Thanks to the WoWGlider ruling, they can definitly do so. If they say using pay mods violates ToS they can sue anyone who writes a mod.

Hell, technically, given the ruling, if they say wearing black is against the ToS they can sue anyone who sells black clothes to WoW players. (Not that they're likely to do so, it's just an incendiary example.)

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 11:48AM Rive said

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Asking for money for mods is ok I suppose and Blizzard obviously isn't opposed to it either so I dont have a problem with it. However, I do agree that add-on producers are crossing a line when they start asking for money in game.

I can't think of any other MMO off the top of my head that allows for player created add-ons, so the fact that Blizzard allows us to use them is some what of a treat imo. That there are people out there who are taking advantage of this situation in order to make money, and acting like it is their right to do so, is unfortunate.

I tend to think of add-ons as more of a community service, and I think its great that there are people out there trying to improve the game they love, not only for themselves, but for other people as well. The point at which you start actively soliciting donations for add-ons is the point at which you should probably stop doing them.

It would be kind of like me cleaning up all the litter in my local park one evening. If someone sees me out there and gives me a dollar for my efforts than that's cool. However, it would be rather ridiculous of me to approach every single person who uses that park after that and tell them to donate money to me. Thats how I see this issue.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 12:32PM (Unverified) said

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One day Blizzard is going to get far too greedy and plant their face firmly in the ground.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 12:48PM (Unverified) said

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The reason why Blizzard is right in this, both legally and in every other way, is that the authors of those add-ons are improving on something that someone else created and then profiting from it. In the case of Carbonite, Blizzard doesn't really want something that gives you a laundry list for quests and points you the most efficient path. They will never institute such an interface option, and it's kind of gamebreaking, at least debateably so. So, to ask for money for an add-on that a product that the developers have no interest in instituting is sleazy and greedy.

Another issue arises in cases such as Threat Meters and other add-ons that change the mechanics of play. What happens if Omen required a monthly fee? What if some people don't want to pay for it? Threat meters may be getting phased out, but when they were released they were all but necessary for raiding. This would make the game prohibitive for people who didnt want to pay for an add-on and force all raiders to pay for an add-on that changes the mechanics of the game (you can't tell me that fights in Serpentshrine Cavern weren't different than fights in Molten Core in more ways than just number of raiders.)

None of the important add-ons have ever required fees to use, and if one does that has enough code to substantially change the game that much, then doesn't it make sense that Blizzard would not want people to have to pay extra for it?

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 1:04PM (Unverified) said

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Its a shame that Blizzard has decided to stifle Mod innovation. Alot of these mods take notable time and effort to create and update, and the authors should be able to request compensation.

I think that Blizzard agrees with that principle. They obviously haven't had issue with Mods requesting donations before. It was the Carbonite and mods that spammed requests for donations that spurred Blizzard into action.

Unfortunately their new policy punishes every Mod maker, not just the ones that crossed the line.

Posted: Mar 25th 2009 1:19PM (Unverified) said

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Something many of you are missing is that Blizzard is not just banning charging fees for mods, but banning requesting donations for those mods within the game itself. You can no longer have a line of text display on startup of the game that says "If you like mod xxxx, please donate at www.xxxx.com to keep it alive, thanks!"

That's now "illegal". Since mods are created using lua and thus use NO blizzard proprietary code, as another poster stated a mod that helps you play better is no different than a custom mouse that helps you play better.

Why Blizzard would want to discourage mod makers is beyond me, considering that most of the good features in their own UI were created by modders first and then copied.

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