Blizzard Bans Commercial Add-Ons

World of Warcraft LogoBlizzard recently updated its UI Add-On Policy for World of Warcraft with the intent of pretty much banning any commercial WoW add-ons.

1) Add-ons must be free of charge.
All add-ons must be distributed free of charge. Developers may not create “premium” versions of add-ons with additional for-pay features, charge money to download an add-on, charge for services related to the add-on, or otherwise require some form of monetary compensation to download or access an add-on.

. . .

4) Add-ons may not include advertisements.
Add-ons may not be used to advertise any goods or services.

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.

In general, this is an awful idea. I can see Blizzard’s desire not to have in-game solicitations of donations and/or advertising. Among other things, I assume you’d get a lot of people installing add-ons that include this and then complaining that it’s all World of Warcraft’s fault and/or generating support calls that are really due to an add-on.

But the blanket ban on charging for add-ons is stupid. Blizzard should set the parameters for what’s allowed (like “no in-game advertising”) and then leave well enough alone. As long as an add-on complies with all the rules, who cares if there’s some uber-useful mod that the creator charges a small fee for?

This would be a bit like Microsoft saying it is fine for developers to create free macros for Excel, but nobody is allowed to charge for said macros.

With this change, Blizzard is apparently targeting the folks behind mods like Carbonite which offers a free quest helper add-on, and a more advanced premium version to people who sign up for a paid membership to the Carbonite website. Clearly a lot of work has gone into Carbonite, and why shouldn’t its developers be able to charge players for their efforts?

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