With roughly 150 million monthly users uTorrent has a massive user base. This means that when drastic changes are implemented, they are bound to disappoint quite a few people.
One of the biggest backlashes in recent history happened two years ago when BitTorrent Inc. announced its plan to make uTorrent ad-supported. This announcement led to a small user revolt.
The people complaining were mostly annoyed that there was be no option to disable the ads. Luckily for them, BitTorrent Inc. listened to the feedback and quickly decided that users would indeed get a chance to opt-out.
At the time BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker said that the backlash made it clear that users should be given the choice.
“We’ve long contemplated an opt-out mechanism for the new offers and advertisements we will be experimenting with. Given all that’s been said here, we’ve decided to release the initial version with an opt-out mechanism, and we will provide them with ways to do so,” said BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker.
From that moment uTorrent’s ads became optional, but turned on by default. Still, the company managed to generate billions of ad impressions per month. Five billion to be precise, according to information released last year.
The optional advertisements were a situation most users could live with, but right before the weekend uTorrent pushed through an unexpected and unannounced change. The latest stable release version 3.4.2, no longer gives users the opportunity to opt out from the banner ad in the lower left corner.
As can be seen below, the option “show plus information” has been removed from the context menu. In addition the advanced setting “gui.show_plus_upsell,” which had the same functionality, has disappeared as well.
At this point it’s unclear why BitTorrent Inc. removed the opt-out. The change is not documented in the release notes, but several users were quick to pick it up and began asking questions.
The uTorrent development team hasn’t responded to the comments yet. Some users are nonetheless quick to draw their conclusions, much like two years ago.
“Just like the coming of the video killing the radio star, ads will kill uTorrent’s popularity,” one user comments in the forums.
While there is no longer an option to hide the uTorrent Plus house ad, people can prevent other ads from showing up there by going into the advanced settings. Setting offers.left_rail_offer_enabled to false should restrict the ads to the uTorrent Plus upsell.
There is no denying that the advertisements, in addition to the toolbars and other software that’s bundled with uTorrent, generate the majority of the revenue for BitTorrent Inc. Perhaps this latest change is an attempt to increase the revenue coming from the banner ads, which eventually goes to paying the company’s bills.
Whether this will be a wise decision in the long run remains to be seen.