How to download and update your WoW addons in Shadowlands
In June 2020, Twitch sold CurseForge — which was responsible for its popular World of Warcraft Addon manager — to another company, Overwolf. That means if you’ve been using that popular addon manager, you might already be aware that you need to find an alternative. Especially as the launch of Shadowlands nears, this becomes crucial.
Sadly, the Twitch manager has already stopped automatically updating several addons for a few weeks now. I noticed this as I started getting in-game notifications that my Deadly Boss Mods addon was out of date, despite the fact that I had been getting it automatically updated from the Twitch app since forever ago. If you’ve been using it, that might also be the case for you.
But do not panic, dear reader! For here is everything you need to know about using an addon manager for WoW, as well as finding the best replacement for you.
The basics of using an addon manager
For many, many years, I found and updated my addons manually. I had several bookmarks of places where I could go download them, and I would extract those .zip files on my WoW folder, one by one. Being used to the process, it didn’t amount to much — but there were several drawbacks to that approach, that only became clear to me once I decided to bite the bullet and start using an addon manager:
Sometimes your addons won’t be up to date
Especially when a new expansion or major patch is released, this is a huge issue. We often stay for a few days — sometimes weeks or even months — without working versions of our favorite addons. And when that happens, we have to keep checking manually for when they release their updated versions. An addon manager does that job of searching for new versions, downloading then, and unpacking them for us, automatically, for every single addon we have. All we need to do is to load the manager, and boom! That’s a bingo!
Another issue is simply that running out-of-date addons might cause your game to not work properly, to keep displaying annoying error messages, or even to crash. Once Shadowlands drops, this is likely to happen to all of us. Running an addon manager, and keeping our addons up-to-date, will greatly diminish that problem. Some addons might still not work as soon as the expansion is released, but the vast majority of them should get stable versions within the next few hours, or days.
It’s a lot less work on your end
Machines should serve man. That’s why we build them: so we can relax, and sip on our favorite beverages, while our robot slaves do the heavy labor for us.
Okay, maybe it’s not as dramatic as that. But the truth is: managing all your addons manually takes its toll after some time. You’ll have to keep hunting for updates on your own time, and you’ll likely be caught with an older version very often — the popular encounter addon Deadly Boss Mods is the biggest culprit of this, since it updates with ridiculous frequency — and virtually everyone uses it.
You might make mistakes: we are only human, and our robot overlords are sometimes much less prone to extracting a .zip file in the wrong location, and then wondering why their addon doesn’t work. (I’m sorry, robots, I love you.)
So none of that was enough to convince you, and you still don’t trust addon managers and want to keep doing it manually? Sure, find a repository such as CurseForge, and be my guest!
But I promise you: once you do start using an addon manager, your life becomes so much easier that it’s absurd to even conceive of a WoW-playing life without one. My recommendation is: you should start using one.
Which addon manager should you use?
Overwolf has been on the market for quite some time, working with several MMOs and competitive titles since 2010. There are some big partnerships working with Overwolf, including names such as Intel and EA. Millions have been invested into it, and it has won awards. It also supports addon creators by sharing a portion of its ad revenue with them — which many addons managers do not.
But despite all of that… not everyone is happy with Overwolf, which will be running ads in the app — with some commenters going as far as calling it “malware.” If you visit their subreddit, it won’t be difficult to find threads where users are concerned about such topics as, “Which data is collected anonymously?” or “Why am I getting a Trojan notification from Overwolf?” Even in the WoW subreddit, you can find threads that were made as long as five years ago, wondering whether or not Overwolf is safe to use. Yikes.
Their overlay has also been criticized, for being prone to not launching at all, or to causing crashes on multiple games, such as League of Legends, Apex Legends, and Guild Wars 2. Plus, it won’t be available for Mac players at launch, which is an extra bummer. They also planned on a server migration which would have locked creators out from updating their addons — a pretty standard practice in infrastructure, but the migration was scheduled for the week of Shadowlands release. It seems that since the initial public outcry about this decision, they’ve been “working to reduce” the impact migration will have, but you may want to plan your week one addon downloads accordingly.
Sure, Overwolf is the “official replacement” for the Twitch addon. But given all of the above, there are plenty of alternatives that might be better picks for you.
You might be interested in taking a look at these open-source alternatives. Being open source is an enormous plus in my book — that, in itself, makes them much, much safer if you’re scared about potentially adding malware to your system or sharing private information, since anyone can take a look at the source code at any time. Not to mention, you’re likely supporting the work of someone who is releasing and supporting these apps for free, much like addon makers themselves.
WoWUp might not look great, but is super easy to use and lightweight, and it’s the closest option I’ve found to the old Twitch client. In some aspects such as performance, it works even better than that one.
It self updates, it finds your WoW folders automatically — I didn’t even need to scan for them manually, not even for Classic, PTR, or beta! The interface is extremely similar to the old Twitch client — so if you’re used to that one, this might be a plus for you. Even the buttons to update your addons or search for more addons as well as the rows and columns displaying your addon information are in the positions you’re already accustomed to with the Twitch client.
If WoWUp sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can get it here.
Do you like a minimalist approach to design, and an emphasis on performance? Then Ajour, another open-source option, might be the one for you.
Setup only requires you to point it to your WoW folder. After you do that, all your addons will be listed with simple options for you to update, delete, or ignore them, as well as go to their official websites when applicable.
I did not find options to manage my PTR or beta addons on this one. It wins in simplicity, being the most bare-bones option I’ve tried, which might be good if you’re looking for as much simplicity as possible with addon managing. The fact that it only lists retail and Classic addons is a minus — but if you’re not the type of player who is interested in playing on the PTR or beta, that might not apply to you.
You can find Ajour at this link.
Another good option — thought not an open-source one — is Singularity. This addon manager is very upfront about privacy concerns, carefully detailing all the data it will inevitably collect from you. You can read it all on the Privacy section of their website, and it also immediately pops at you when you first install its client.
The layout is well done, and, again, similar to the old Twitch client most of us are used to at this point. Setup only required me to point it at my WoW folder, and nothing else. Like the other good options out there, it easily allows me to update my current addons, find new ones, and it supports Retail, Classic, PTR, and beta.
A strong point Singularity has in its favor is the ability to perform a backup of your current addons. If that’s the kind of functionality that interests you, it might nudge you towards this option.
You can find Singularity here.
Even more options
Do you want even more options? Do the previous ones not fit the bill for some reason? Maybe you’re looking for some specific feature, such as Mac or Linux integration? Or a different kind of UI? Well, we have this treasure trove of options for you: Just follow this link to a GitHub page featuring dozens of WoW addon managers! Hopefully you will find the one that fits all your needs and works as well as possible.
Disclaimer: No robots, Humans, Goblins, Gnomes, Mechagnomes, or Pepes were harmed in the making of this article, and Blizzard Watch does not endorse the harming of such beings. Robots are friends, not food.
Originally posted 10/12/2020. Updated 11/17/2020.
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