The Growing Divide in World of Warcraft Websites


There are many websites out there covering various aspects of the game, from general news to databases to focused subjects like fishing or pets. Over the years, most sites have interacted in some form or another with the database sites, most notably being WoWDB and Wowhead which are part of the Curse and ZAM networks, respectively.

I’ve always preferred using Wowhead, but I use both databases on a regular basis to check spell details, quest information, etc. I’ve even installed the Wowhead tooltip script on Totemspot which also does nifty things like previewing transmog sets in addition to the usual tooltip details.

Recently though, I was introduced to the uglier side of what happens when you have “competing” websites.

Over the weekend I received a message from one of the guys behind MMO-Champion & WoWDB on a WoW related IRC channel I hang out on. I’ve spoken to this person occasionally before, so I didn’t think anything of it when he told me my website was broken. I checked, and it was working fine, so I asked how it was broken. The reply was:

“when I click a link on any of the guide pages it redirects me to wowhead instead of wowdb”

I wasn’t too impressed by this suggestion, but I prefer being polite whenever I can so I didn’t tell him to shove off straight away. The rest of the short conversation involved touting the things that WoWDB did better, promises of being advertised on MMO-Champion and examples of other sites that are using it, with the implication that they also received this offer and switched because of it. There was even a link to a web traffic profile of one of these sites with the suggestion that the massive spike was due to their referral  although anything dated around the 28th of August makes me think the spike was just because of 5.0.4 (I didn’t have as large a spike on Totemspot, but the traffic increases are fairly similar).

I’m also not worried about getting more “exposure” for Totemspot, because simply getting visitors isn’t enough. I want to grow the forums, and that will take time. The site is also cheap enough to run on donations alone so I’m not worried about ad revenue.

The approach did irritate me, although I should admit if a site that was getting around 900 visits a day (pre-Mists anyway, it’s been steadily growing to the point where I might pass 3,000 visits in a single day and that’s with having my Elemental guide copied to four other locations) is one that gets bribed with advertising in order to increase their “market hold”, it’s both sad and amusing at the same time.

Curse has managed to lower my opinion of themselves on a fairly regular basis. They don’t seem to be happy until they have a near monopoly in a particular area, and will create functionality they can charge for by taking away free functionality or giving paying members access to more “exclusive” stuff. Examples of each are the Curse Client, where you can only download two addons at a time, and the constant beta key give-a-ways for various games. Correction, the Curse Client only downloads one addon at a time, but you can’t have more than two queued unless you have their “premium” membership. I’m not against the ads in the client, because that’s helping pay for the (minimal) amount of bandwidth used, but the now defunct MMO-Minion used at WoWInterface had ads, a premium “remove the ads” option but yet still allowed a One Click Update function.

It’s sad to see that because of the actions of one company there is a growing divide in WoW related sites where you either use their stuff, or your site is “wrong” or “broken”.

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I'm a geek, living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

5 Responses to The Growing Divide in World of Warcraft Websites

  1. Vordea says:

    I’d never use wowdb because white background. Don’t they understand when playing at night, a white page is worse than a thousand burning suns on my retinas? This is why I started using wowhead to begin with, black background.

  2. lulwut says:

    WoWDB doesn’t have what makes WoWhead a great resource – the comments. If a quest is broken or confusing at some point then there is a high chance there will be a bunch of comments with solutions, WoWDB is just.. empty.

  3. Boubouille says:

    Hey,

    I’m going to reply to a couple of things really quick.

    - The approach was funny-sketchy because I know you. You might not remember, but you’re partially the reason why we have scaling stats on spells on WoWDB. ^^

    - Yes, I emphasize the traffic gain and the potential relationship because that’s what I care about. I work with some of the sites that did the switch on a daily basis and I plan to continue. One of the biggest challenge as a fansite is access to database ressources and as someone who as on the “other side” with no access to it for years, I can tell you that it sucks. There’s a lot more than just backlinks and we’ll be providing a lot more in the future.

    - Something you forgot to mention about the Curse premium: a fairly big % of the Curse Premium revenues are sent to the addon authors. This is mostly why the whole system was put in place originally, and this is why some authors are able to work on their tools on a daily basis.

    I do agree that WoWDB isn’t perfect for the moment, but we have a fair amount of advantages over competition and I’m pretty sure it will start to show in the next few weeks. Things like comments haven’t been promoted yet because they’re not quite ready for full scale public use but they should be ready shortly. ^^

    Also, I still like you.

    • I fail to see the advantages of WowDB over Wowhead in its current state, but I’ll keep an open mind; as of late one of the sites I regularly read has been linking to DB over WH, and I’ve resorted to no longer click on their links.

      In order for DB to be competitive, they MUST change the color scheme (as pointed out by previous commenter) and include commenting functionality. On more occasions than I can count on one hand I found myself hitting up Wowhead during the first week of MoP to see about a bugged quest and 100% of the time a commenter had already figured out the workaround and posted for all to see. That’s value that will be difficult to match.

      As per the Curse Client, I used to pay for the premium version, but prices were jacked up substantially ($5 yearly to $25 yearly). Unfortunately, going back to the unpaid version bogs down my machine with all the adds, and the one-at-a-time DL is a real annoyance.

      Switched over to WoWMatrix, which works well, but has flaws (not-up-to-date or not supported addons) that I just can’t accept.

      Boubouille, would you be able to share what % of the yearly subscription goes to the authors of addons? The answer has the potential to reconvert me to a paid subscriber.

      • Boubouille says:

        Revenue share with authors is at least 20%, could be a little more but I don’t have anyone on hand to double check.

        As for for resorting to no longer click on the links, it’s kind of the feel we’re going with on WoWDB. Thank you! ^^

        More seriously, the goal is to display a lot more info in tooltips and this is partially why some sites switched. It’s pretty nice for users to not have to click a raid spell to figure out what the heroic damages are, or click an item to see where it drops from. We’ll be working more toward that in the future.

        It doesn’t mean comments aren’t important though, I had moderators work on a bunch of them and we’ll be working with the community to make it better very soon. They’re just not quite ready yet for full-scale attention.

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