Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The legalities of add-ons

Gaming site ZAM has a great interview with Connie Mableson here. Among her other interesting points she argues that Blizzard may well be forcing add-ons to not charge and make their code public because they intend to develop add-ons in-house and charge for them.

She links the ability to charge with the ability to keep the code secret and I'm sure she's right about that. After all not many people would pay $14.99 a year for code they could cut and paste off the internet.

What I don't agree with though is that Blizzard want to develop add-ons in-house.

The add-on community currently does most of Blizzard's UI code-writing and has done for years. There's barely been anything beyond the most simple of toggles that has changed in Blizzard's UI since 2004 without the add-on community testing it first. The notable exception is voice comms which they had the chance to see in LOTR before they copied the idea.

These are the advantages to Blizzard with the current set-up:
- the programming is written free
- extensive QA is done by the modding community and the players who download the add-on. Many of these have had several versions refining them to perfection
- there's no risk to Blizzard if an add-on sucks or if people don't like it

If Blizzard produce their own add-ons it's expensive, it may not be successful, it may discourage people who feel they now need to pay surcharges to be competitive in a form of RMT and of course there will be loads of free competition from existing free add-ons unless they ban those.

What they want is the code.

By stopping Carbonite keeping its code secret they can continue their rather exploitative practice of cherry-picking the highlights of the add-ons after players have put it through extensive QA.

No comments:

Post a Comment