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Ask Massively

Ask Massively: And the money will follow

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

A reader named Josh recently wrote to Massively to ask about the viability of a career in games journalism. He's not a kid with stars in his eyes; he's an adult who works for an elite tech company, and his dad is a published journalist himself. He once focused his MMO hobby into a livestreaming channel and blog but shut them down because of the time involved, and now he's considering whether a career shift to doing what he loves might be worthwhile.
As a 30-year old with a family of three, I have a feeling that it would be very difficult to transition into the world of technology journalism. My impression is that it is an industry that does not really pay that much, and therein lies my quandary. My question for you at Massively is whether it is really possible to pursue the field of technology/gaming journalism and still support a family? And what traits are desirable in a technology journalist? Do editors look for people who have journalism degrees and existing experience, or is it a situation where you can step up to the plate and impress someone with your existing skill? How many of you that work for Massively actually support yourselves and your families based on your journalism, and what did it take to get to that point in your careers?
Unfortunately, Josh's gut feeling is correct and terribly timely.

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Ask Massively: Why we cover what we do, part three

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Fun fact: The only Brad who beats Brad McQuaid in our network tag system is Brad Pitt.
For this week's Ask Massively, longtime reader Avaera has asked us to do another round of "why we cover what we do," and I am happy to oblige. Avaera wrote,
Can I ask (with what I hope is genuine curiosity) what guidelines you generally try to follow when choosing which news stories to cover? I do understand that it just isn't feasible to cover every update, patch, developer's announcement, press release, expansion, research paper, Kickstarter project, or success/failure story relating to the thousands of MMORPGs out there, but sometimes the criteria seem opaque to me. As an example, since the start of 2014, I counted 22 news articles exclusively focused on Brad McQuaid's Pantheon Kickstarter. In contrast, the active and available MMOs that I am most interested in don't seem to make much of a splash at all. Is this just a reflection of the gaming community's hunger for something new and original, of hype and promises being much more satisfying and desirable than the tangible and playable worlds from which the curtain of hopes and dreams has been stripped away? Is it a reflection of the personal interests of the Massively team, who certainly can't be expected to take up much time with games that simply don't do anything for them? Or is there something unfortunate about the gaming media that unknowingly feeds the hype and disappointment cycle through disproportionate reporting of developer plans and marketing over actual development?
Complicated questions demand complicated answers. What do we consider when deciding whether something is newsworthy?

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Ask Massively: Vanguard's CE, Pandaria, and region-locked servers

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

It can be easy to forget how awesome MMO players are when we're knee-deep in troll-infested comment threads, but a note from a reader named Joshua this week served as the perfect perspective-reorientation:
I was helping my brother demo and clean his father-in-law's home today and stumbled upon what appears to be a mint-condition Vanguard limited edition (collectors edition?). It looks to have all the goods, so I was wondering whether anyone at Massively would like to have it. Knowing how easy it is to get attached to these games, I figured someone would want it for sentimental reasons (I still have my DAOC boxes and books!).
I don't know whether our staff will take you up on it, but just the fact that you thought of offering it to our bereaved fans instead of making a beeline for eBay warmed my heart.

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Ask Massively: You get a gold star

Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Community Q&A, Miscellaneous

re Firefly Online
Since the introduction of the new "featured comments" highlighting in Massively comments section, several community members have inquired about how it works, who selects the comments, and what the point is other than to give seemingly random people a mild internet ego boost. These are excellent questions whose answers do affect our community, and I posed several of them myself in a meeting with a Livefyre rep just a few weeks ago. Let's talk about how it all works in today's Ask Massively and create a convenient link to add to our growing site FAQ.

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Ask Massively: Giveaways, zombies, and capturing the spirit of Ultima Online

MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Perpetuum, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

This week in Ask Massively, we're answering questions about eerily quiet games, giveaways, and capturing the spirit of classic sandboxes and The Walking Dead.

Holden asked, "Why has Perpetuum dropped off the map? I never hear about it anymore. The only time I even remember it is when I am doing searches for (more) robot/mech desktop wallpapers. Once monoclegate blew over, it was as if Perpetuum fell of the face of the earth, but it seems that it is still around from glancing at the website."

This was such a good question that we went digging for an answer before we even added it to Ask Massively. It had been a long time since we'd reported on Perpetuum because it had been a long time since Perpetuum had made a big splash in the news. Readers speculated that the game's playerbase has shrunk over the last two years, but in fact over the winter holiday, developer Avatar Creations posted a dev blog detailing plans for a newbie tutorial island intended to bolster the new player population. Hopefully Holden and other fans of the game will enjoy this "island of noobs" (Avatar's words, not mine!).

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Ask Massively: The one where we talk about our 2013 awards

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

2012 was adorable
Let's talk about our 2013 awards (not the 2012 awards, though this image demonstrates why we avoid easily manipulable community polls). Some of you agreed with our picks. Some of you didn't. That's OK. Not everyone on the Massively staff agreed with all of them either. A lot of sites just let the Important People reach a consensus on nominations or even the final vote, but we let every staffer vote on the entire pool of everything. Everything, as one columnist put it, was a write-in. Goodness, even TUG scored a vote in there. Of course, TUG is adorable.

A bunch of people wrote something to the effect of, "How dare you say subs are the year's biggest mistake? Massively hates subs! You're so biased for F2P!"

Specifically, we said that subs were a huge blunder for The Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar. "Massively" is not a hivemind entity, and "Massively" does not hate subs. Quite a lot of us like or even prefer subs. Most of us grew up when subs were the norm. I'm subbed to two games right this very second, even though what I personally prefer was classic Guild Wars' buy-to-play campaign set-up. We also voted for a sub game as our game of the year!

But let's be perfectly clear when we're fighting this F2P-vs.-sub war: The sub model we remember so fondly is not the sub model games are deploying now.

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Ask Massively: New hires, HEX, and the problem with rogues

Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Trading Card Games, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, MMORPG

The Massively staff is not made up of Rogues. It turns out that a curiously high percentage of us play Shamans, but that's neither here nor there. The point is today we have questions about Rogue classes in MMOs and the shiny new hires soon to be added to our roster, and there's no good way to smush these topics into a coherent introduction. I maintain that this is entirely your fault.

Soldack asked, Do you cover the HEX TCG that is going to also have a full fledged MMO? And do you have any interest in hiring a writer/streamer to cover it?

Yep, we do cover it as a sort of pseudo-MMO. We got our grubby paws all over it at this past E3 and after the Kickstarter was announced, and we keep track of it in our crowdfunding column as it continues to develop. But we have no plans to hire a new journalist to focus on it or other MMOTCGs/MMOCCGs (like Hearthstone) exclusively right now, nope. If that changes, rest assured that we'll be putting up a hiring notice!

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Ask Massively: Why WoW's 1.3% matters

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Welcome back to Ask Massively! Let's play with numbers and WoW. I like numbers and WoW.

"I'm no WoW fan, but a change in population of 1.3% either way is nothing worth writing about," wrote a Massively commenter last week on the pre-BlizzCon news that World of Warcraft dropped another 100,000 subscribers over the last quarter.

Sure it's worth writing about! Ever hear the phrase "no news is good news"?

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Ask Massively: Nick Burns edition

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Yay comments
Today's Ask Massively letters come from David and Abionie, both of whom wrote us over the summer with comments about, well, our comments. This first one's from David:
I'm probably not the only one who is generally displeased with the state of trolls on the internet today. You know them: doomsayers, hatespreaders, the "HAHA company X is failing, finally!" types, the kind of people for whom the hatred of a video game or company has become more addictive than playing the game that company made. Unfortunately, the internet gives soapboxes to people who probably don't have much of a relationship with soap. I would like to see more moderation towards keeping an articles comments on the topic of the article. It's becoming tiring to open up an article talking about something I am interested in, only to fear scrolling down too far and inadvertently opening up the comments to see "FAIL GAME IS FAIL COPYING X GAME IS LAZY" and the many hundreds of comments like that.
We hear you, David, and not just about the soap. But also that.

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Ask Massively: The dilemma of the free-to-play sandbox

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Housing

Shroud of the Avatar
Reader Sharvis recently emailed the Massively Speaking podcast with a question I felt deserved more than just a quick verbal reaction on the 'cast. That, and we just discovered that the ask@massively.com email address went dead approximately three weeks ago, and I've not been receiving your letters there (so send 'em again!). In the meantime: Sharvis.
What makes a sandbox so susceptible to its business model in comparison to a themepark? I'm not experienced with sandbox titles, and I can only guess on some of the implications. For example, selling boosters in a themepark is fairly acceptable, but in a sandbox, as Jef pointed out [in his ArcheAge column earlier this summer], that'd be cutting into one of the main features of a sandbox. I'd guess it has to do with these sort of MMOs being more player-centric, and that's a very delicate system to be messing with.
See? I told you this was a juicy one.

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Ask Massively: The order of all the things

Betas, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Events (Massively's Coverage), Community Q&A, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

This week in Ask Massively, we're fielding two queries about how we position games in some of our weekly roundup columns. As an obsessive list-maker, I understand the need to make sense of list chaos, believe me. I actually have lists of my lists. I'm not kidding.

Our first question is from Siphaed, who wondered about the entries in our Week in Review:
I'm a bit confused why The Elder Scrolls Online and Star Citizen got above FFXIV. Don't get me wrong, I honestly don't like either game and still prefer the one above all three (Guild Wars 2). However, I see that FFXIV has four key articles dedicated to it this past week and the other two have only three each. I would think that it would get a slight priority in the pecking order based on that. If not, what are the credentials for one game getting priority over the others in the article listing?
I love that you guys think we're sitting around steepling our fingers trying to decide which game should go on top and get the golden star sticker for the week, but unfortunately, it's nowhere near that much fun!

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Ask Massively: The best and worst of PAX Prime 2013

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

The best and worst of PAX Prime 2013
PAX Prime is the last major western gaming con of the year, and we'd like to believe it's given us all something to think about as we head into a winter full of special snowflake games. Alas, PAX Prime this year seems to have left us all bewildered at best and underwhelmed at worst, at least when it comes to pure MMORPGs.

Now it's time to explain why. We're going to tell you about what was for us the most surprising reveal, the most disappointing offering, and of course, the best MMO in show. The ground rules for our discussion? They're basically the same as for E3:
  • It had to be a game or topic we can justify covering on Massively.
  • Every staff member was permitted to chime in (though not all did).
  • We stuck to three big categories rather than create so many that every game could "win" something, not that these are really awards.
Roll the dice!

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Ask Massively: Grand conspiracies

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, MMOFPS, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, MOBA, MMORPG

The first and last COD screen you'll probably ever see on Massively
Earlier this week, Massively's Mike Foster penned a Soapbox editorial that argued against obsessing over the definition of MMO to the exclusion of debating good game design. If you liked it, awesome. If you hated it, then take heart; next week, Brendan Drain will be arguing the flip-side of Mike's article.

That's what our Soapbox is all about: writers talking about game-related things they're interested in or passionate about. It's a soapbox mounted by a different author every week, not a notarized declaration of the site's purpose and intent. We've intentionally collected a team with diverse opinions, and we rarely all agree on every opinion published on the site, especially the Soapbox, and that's the whole point. If we all agreed, we'd be boring. Plus I'd never get to waste an afternoon debating video games with Eliot in chat, which is tremendous fun, incidentally, and I highly recommend it.

This week in Ask Massively, I want to address the conspiracy theory proposed in the wake of that Soapbox as well as a few other bits and bobs from our comments.

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Ask Massively: The better to stalk you

Massively Meta, Humor, Ask Massively, Community Q&A, Guides, Miscellaneous, Player-Generated Content

Image by Alex Proimos on Wikimedia Commons
Long-time reader and podcast-listener Avaera recently posed a question to the Massively staffers clearly designed to send our egos into the clouds:
Is other any chance for Massively itself to somehow integrate the wonderfully reflective and personal blog entries that you and the other writers maintain separately from their paid work? Even a round-up style column of some of the best MMO blog posts of the past week, or on a particular theme, would be fascinating.
My first thought was that most of us put most of our work on Massively because if we can get paid to write, we'd be fools not to do so! I didn't think there'd be enough writing material to even justify a roundup, and that's probably true; I update my own ranty blog only every other month, for example. But who's to say blogs are the only interesting thing we do? So I polled all of Massively's staffers about where they write their writings, video their videoings, and tweet their twitterings. If you have a serious urge to stalk us, you're in the right post!

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Ask Massively: Taboo topics

Culture, Guilds, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Roleplaying, Humor, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Image from the game formerly known as The Bible Online
In the US, we have a joke about how you never discuss politics or religion with friends if you want to keep those friends, which is a shame since those are usually the most interesting subjects, especially when it's three in the morning and you're out of jello shots. Today's topic might seem as if it's about religion and politics on the surface, but it's really not. A reader named Ediz wrote to us with the following question:
While browsing the official Neverwinter forum guild recruitment section, I noticed several guilds openly advertising their religious orientation. I think this is really bad, even if they accept non-religious members. This type of behaviour should be strongly dealt with by community managers. The last thing I want in a game and especially MMO is to see people's religious, sexual, or political orientations openly advertised as it just ruins my immersion. I politely complained about it on the thread, and my post has been casually removed by the moderators. What is wrong with these guys?
Short answer? Nothing at all.

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