TL;DR: A company notorious for its ad-riddled client, which recently bought out CurseForge (formerly owned by Twitch), is trying to completely monopolize WoW addon management by trying to shut down or otherwise block API access for any of its far more convenient competitors, such as CurseBreaker and wowup.io and thus force anyone wanting to update addons to install their client.
So Wowhead recently highlighted what Overwolf - the new owners of CurseForge, which was previously owned by Twitch - intends to do now that they have ownership of the Addon Manager that the Twitch app currently uses. You can read it here for your own convenience:
Well, Overwolf has had a bit of a history in the larger gaming community for being an extremely shady client. The client itself bombards users with advertisements, there is no way to opt out of said advertisements, and some of said advertisements have the same issues that Wowhead itself had for many years up until recently: a lot of the ads were straight-up malware.
That business model hasn’t changed whatsoever, of course; the ads are still extremely intrusive, there’s no way to avoid getting them, and some of them are straight-up harmful and/or malicious. Except now, if you want the fastest, most convenient way to manage and update your addons, you have to go through Overwolf to do it, which means that you have to deal with glorified adware on your system to update your addons more reliably.
“But Dread! What about CurseBreaker or wowup.io?”
Well, here’s the catch…
We know that CurseForge has been scraped forever and the team at Twitch has been fighting it and sending C&D letters back and forth. So, why is this a problem?
Putting aside the legal jibber jabber, when you scrape you:
Distribute the authors’ intellectual property without their consent
Prevent us from tracking engagement, and therefore you impact authors’ earnings
There’s a full team working on building and maintaining the CurseForge backend, support, file moderation etc., and you’re using this (and our bandwidth) without consent and against terms of service.
So first off, let’s be clear about a few things: all WoW addons are supposed to be free to use. Period. That’s a part of the game’s Terms of Service. You’re allowed to donate to the addon developers - and many folks, myself included, have donated to the good ones like those for DBM, Plater, TSM, etc. - but they aren’t allowed to charge for the use of addons. They’re supposed to be non-profit. Nobody’s supposed to enter this business expecting to make a profit. Those addons aren’t anyone’s intellectual property but Blizzard’s because they work off of Blizzard’s publicly-available API. Overwolf’s monetization scheme here is a very clear, very blatant attempt to work around this whole thing.
“So what exactly does ‘scrubbing CurseForge’ mean?”
Well, basically, third-party programs use the publicly-available API from CurseForge, as well as GitHub (where most of these addons’ code is situated as is) - which, by the way, is supposed to be publicly-available because all addons for WoW use the publicly-available Blizzard UI - to allow players to manage addons without having to use the Twitch client or, come October 20th, the Overwolf client.
So here’s the problem with trying to use something like wowup.io or CurseBreaker or any of the other alternatives, based on a direct quote from the Overwolf statement highlighted by this Wowhead article:
We’re open to conversation, with any mod manager that can address the fundamental issues above. Please shoot it out to [redacted email address]. Otherwise, we’re excited to finally release the first build of CurseForge to the public on October 20th, and prepare to fully take control in mid November. Help us shape the future of CurseForge together! You’re invited to check out the beta and share your thoughts with us here [redacted URL].
So basically, if you love wowup.io, CurseBreaker, or any of those other third-party addon management programs that aren’t the the big corporate ones (none of which are against WoW’s Terms of Service), there’s a chance that you’ll be forced to either update your addons manually (an extremely tedious process, mind you) or install this horrible adware client for the more convenient approach.
Please, please don’t support this horrible company in its attempt to monopolize managing WoW addons. Don’t install this god-awful client of theirs. If you hated managing your addons through the Twitch app this one’s gonna make you want to gouge your eyes out. They don’t have a good track record whatsoever, and a quick Google search can easily net you plenty of results that corroborate this fact. If you really want to support addon creators, just donate directly to them instead of lining some third-party company’s pockets once you install their bloatware onto your PC.
Here’s a video detailing the Overwolf CurseForge client in its alpha.
A few points:
You don’t need registration to use it, so it’s semi-convenient on that front.
It’s an absolute memory hog. It’s like 400k+ MB versus the Twitch app’s 150-200k MB.
Overwolf’s privacy terms are extremely suspicious and you HAVE to install the Overwolf client to install this addon manager.
Overwolf still very much has the potential to pressure its competitors to shut down, which sucks because Wowup.io is just the far, far superior product.
Since it’s in Alpha there are at present no ads, so we don’t know how invasive these ads are or aren’t.