Throughout the years, WoW has always been at its most vulnerable when “mandatory” addons dominated the landscape. From Gearscore to OQueue and plenty in between, these third-party infiltrators have consistently provided an extra layer to WoW’s gameplay that can’t be found in the base game. Yet somehow, Blizzard always finds a way to stamp them out and bring what the addon brought to the table organically through WoW itself.
This particular phenomenon is known as “addon integration”, or, the process by which a popular addon is effectively erased from usability in favor of a first-party alternative. Whether it was through the introduction of item levels in late Wrath of the Lich King or the implementation of an in-game premade group creator in Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard seemingly always does a bang-up job of finding a situation where an addon is doing more than the actual game and remedying that particular situation.
Which is why it’s so intriguing (and frankly puzzling) to me that addons like Deadly Boss Mods, Raider.io, and countless others have stood the test of time for so long. I understand that addons are a crucial part of WoW and its history, but when an addon becomes a “mandatory” requirement for experiencing and progressing through certain sectors of the game’s content, you have to start wondering, “why doesn’t Blizzard pounce on this and just make it part of the base game?”.
The answer is simple. Technically, you can skate by and work your way to the top of the raiding hemisphere or the world of Mythic+ without ever installing DBM or IO (but know this, the experience is going to be excruciating and painstakingly difficult).
So with that in mind, we’re forced to raise another question: why does Blizzard pick and choose which addons they want to allow to continue operating under normal circumstances and those they want to shut down by making a stronger, just-as-capable, in-game option? That answer is much more simple than the question itself: the resources are elsewhere and it’s not worth competing.
At this point in time, several addons (especially the ones I mentioned a few paragraphs ago) have been deeply ingrained into WoW’s culture. There’s no getting them out now. Between the cult followings they’ve amassed, and the longstanding reputations that they’ve built up over the years, many of the addons in question have reached a status of being “too big to replace”.
On top of that, many of the developers behind these addons and services have developed an extensive relationship with Blizzard itself throughout their lifespans. To see the parent company simply do away with these extensions to the game with no backup plan in place – would not only be a slap in the face, it would be a poor development decision.
So, to answer the question of why Blizzard is so picky when it comes to choosing which addons make the cutting room floor, the reasoning comes down to resources. In some cases, Blizzard might feel the need to strengthen the game on its own using their own resources. Which is totally reasonable, but most definitely takes those resources away from other parts of the development process. Sure, I bet Blizzard would love to update the technology behind the Mythic+ leaderboards, but when someone else is doing the job for free, why would they bother?
In many other cases, if an outside developer is making your game better for free, it’s impossible to consider them as competition, but instead, as a valuable resource in and of themselves. With addons like DBM and IO here to stay for the foreseeable future, Blizzard is clearly showing that they’re enjoying the extra assistance anywhere they can get.
Featured image via Blizzard Entertainment.