On Monday, June 15th, an announcement was made that the popular Weak Auras hosting site Wago.io had been acquired by Method, the eSports brand and World First Raiding guild. The notice was posted by Ora, the webmaster of the website, informing users of the change in ownership.
I am happy to announce that Method has acquired Wago.io. Wago.io will operate independently of Method’s esports teams and the platform will continue to remain transparent and open-source.
To ensure continued competitive integrity a new encrypted (AES) option has been added for all imports which keeps the data encrypted server-side, and limits access only to users who have the password or secret key. No one else (including Method/Wago/Myself) will be able to access these strings.
I’ll be working alongside the website & creative team at Method to further develop the site and with the extra resources now available I am excited to see where we can take the site!
-Mark aka Ora, Wago.io Webmasterhttps://wago.io/news/FHRBXrW3x/wagoio-update
The announcement of the acquisition also comes with the reveal of new security measures that Wago.io will be taking to ensure that only those given access by the creator to the Weak Aura strings uploaded to the site will be able to use them. They also assured users that Wago.io will continue to operate independently of the eSports endeavors of the company.
Despite this, some members of the community are still voicing ethical concerns about how this will affect the World First Race, one of the biggest player organized events in World of Warcraft where guild race to see who will be the first in the world to complete a new raid at Mythic difficulty. Some users feel that this will give Method an unfair advantage and a way to steal Weak Auras from other World First Race guilds, where having better Weak Auras for mechanics notifications on certain bosses can mean the difference between another wipe or a kill. Its not uncommon for the teams to have dedicated members whose sole role it is to create these UI notifications and distribute them to the team. The strings to import the Weak Auras are jealously guarded, so the concern that Method will have an advantage by having control over the most popular distribution system for these strings is being voiced by many.
The World First Races have become a big business for the guilds that participate and the eSports brands they are signed to. Entire studios are rented out to stream from and huge corporations sponsor the events. Given the massive viewership these streams pull in, its not hard to imagine that these events are huge sources of revenue for the companies that run them. Logically, a team absolutely crushing the competition would bring more views to that stream, so its easy to see why some are concerned that the potential of monetary gains could compromise the ethical operation of a site like this.
I don’t believe that these concerns are warranted in this case given the new encryption features announced and the fact that guilds don’t have to share their Weak Auras through Wago.io to distribute them to their team. There are plenty of ways to distribute these strings to a team of people, including through more source-control oriented solutions such as GitHub and GitLab. If teams are terribly concerned about their Weak Auras being stolen, creating a solution that isn’t open to the public is already the best solution regardless of who owns the most popular public sharing platform.
Another concern some users have voiced is that Method will start “monetizing” the website. In most cases where users are referring to this, they seem to be discussing charging for access to the site.
The website, however, is already monetized via advertisements displayed on the pages. It’s unlikely that the monetization method for the site would paywall the content given the amount of traffic it gets. The site is estimated to have received 1.78 million pageviews per month on average between December 2019 and May 2020. For an ad revenue based site, that is a huge amount of potential revenue, especially if Method is able to advertise their own brand, products, and streams on the site in addition to the current 3rd party display ads already implemented.
All in all, it seems that the playerbase stands to gain more from the acquisition than they believe that the competitive integrity of the World First Race stands to lose. The additional funding and development staff for the site will likely mean huge improvements and more rapid implementation of new features. The skill of Weak Aura creators within the Method team could result in higher quality Weak Auras being available for the entire WoW community in the raiding offseason.