by Alphaville Herald on 26/03/09 at 6:00 pm
You can make our game better, but you can't make money for doing so!
by Dr. Legion, staff reporter
Last week Blizzard made an announcement that has been causing a buzz in the usually politically comatose World of Warcraft community. WOW players are probably familiar with addons such as for Zygor Guides, Carbonite and QuestHelper, which are integrated with the WOW user interface (UI). Some of the addons are wildly popular, and some of the developers make a living just off of donations from (and sale of) the addons.
Now, the owners of WOW, Blizzard, are pulling back on the leash, insisting that while such addons can be made, the makers cannot charge for the products and they cannot solicit donations for the products (they must also make their code transparent). One side of this is the Blizzard side, which is to say the tiresome line that "it is their game and they can do what they want with it." The case for the other side is presented by Adam in comments on T=Machine:
How dare they? They’ll ride off the back of other people’s work, butdemand that no-one makes money out of it (as if Blizzard weren’t makingenough money already). This is philosophically similar to the Glidercase where Blizzard argued that they couldn’t afford to design theirgames to satisfy the market (!), but other people were intelligentenough to fix the flaws in Blizzard’s product, and they (Blizzard) werejealous of the money available that way … but even then still “couldn’tafford” to just follow suit, without going out of business (!!) … sothey chose to resort to legal threats instead. (kind of hard to believetheir claims of not being able to afford this stuff, really).
They don’t own the add-ons, and they don’t own the developers ofthem. The arguments about “blah blah it’s their game they can do whatthey want” are specious. Yes, they can do what they want. But equally,so can everyone else. If you chose to “open up” your product platform,you should abide by that decision, not try to retroactively close itdown. Certainly, you can’t just go around dictating what everyone elsedoes with software OUTSIDE your product that happens to interface withit via the interface you provided. Generally speaking, if you supportcompanies to legislate against every derivative product/business, thenthat way lies the death of innovation, entrepreneurship, and productdevelopment. EVERY software product relies upon some other.