Rants and Hissy Fits The Game Industry 27 Comments

In Defense of Massively’s Existence

(Editor’s Note: after publishing this post news broke that AoL officially laid off people from Joystiq, WoW Insider, and Massively. I’m sorry to see it wasn’t just a rumor.)

I wasn’t going to write anything about the potential shutdown of Massively (along with sister sites Joystiq and WoW Insider) because nothing has been officially announced and I try to resist writing about unconfirmed rumors. However, this morning I read the extremely grudge-wanky post I Hope Massively Shuts Down over at Keen and Graev and … it inspired me to write a response.

I’m not a big reader of Massively, although I do keep an eye on their Twitter and RSS feeds. I visit the site particularly when I want to get a feeling for how popular or how divisive a game change is. You can learn a lot about the MMO player community just by scanning to see which articles get the most comments.

And I sometimes have issues with Massively’s articles. There have been times when I didn’t think one was particularly well written, or I just felt it was a little too “press release-y”. I have written the occasional post here in the past when I disagreed with an article or I didn’t think the logic held up.

All of that aside, let’s be perfectly clear here: The loss of Massively would be a huge loss for the MMO community.

Keen’s mega-jerky post — because it was, let’s be honest — argues that Massively is bad because it’s “mass media”. Which.. okay, it is. It’s owned by AoL, it’s very popular in the scheme of MMO sites, and it gets attention from publishers based on that. According to Keen, Massively’s popularity turned “hundreds of thousands of people into sheeple”. They write about things people want to read! Those bastards!

Except, the whole mass media pablum argument isn’t the full story. You only had to read the comments on any article about gender equality in MMOs to see Editor-in-Chief Brianna Royce wade into the fray and share potentially unpopular decisions. Massively has also been a HUGE supporter of smaller, indie MMOs. They championed Glitch, a game near and dear to my heart. They’ve written articles about Age of Wushu and A Tale in the Desert and Wurm Online and a ton of other small games that many of us would possibly otherwise have missed completely. And straight up, they’ve linked this blog and Cat Context at least once each, and have a long history of linking other members of the MMO blogging community. Massively is GOOD for amateur blogs.

(Don’t even get me started on Keen’s accusations of fake game journalists. Like, seriously. He accuses them of not even playing MMOs! Are they just pretending to be MMO players because they like the attention?)

Yes, Massively is a business and has to meet certain metrics to be considered successful, including, I assume, page views. And yes, I’m sure at times they’ve written bland stories about hugely popular games almost entirely for the traffic, because that is what professional content sites do to stay alive. Perhaps I am biased as someone who has a job forming words (in marketing! evil marketing!) but I think it’s pretty okay for someone to make a living from writing about games, and it’s also pretty okay for a company to make money from distributing that writing.

All in all Keen’s post reads like sour grapes to me. Perhaps he believes that the demise of Massively will somehow make his blog more precious and special, but the fact is it just reduces the legitimacy of our area of interest. I’m not a huge Massively fan, but it is a recognizable name that can get into E3 and other shows, highlight smaller games, and link back to the community.

MMO consumers are better off in an ecosystem where Massively exists, and to wave your hands and say that good people should lose their livelihood because Massively is (shock) a business that requires a appealing to a large audience to stay alive is short-sighted at best and downright mean at worst.

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    bhagpuss
    January 30, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Agree 100%. Massively has plenty of flaws but it pumps out news and content on this hobby in like no other mass media outlet I’m aware of. Personally, when I’m interested in something I like to see it get mass media coverage. I don’t expect that coverage to be deep or insightful – I expect it to be accessible and hope that it’s at least factually accurate. Massively by and large fulfills those expectations.

    I hope that, if Massively does vanish, some other media organization with at least a claim to being “mass market” moves in to fill the gap. If not it’s going to be a right pain doing my own virtual legwork to track down news about all those less-celebrated MMOs whose press releases Massively dutifully publishes. And no, that’s not meant ironically – I really DO want to hear about all those games.

  • Reply
    belghast
    January 30, 2015 at 10:42 am

    They had been on the verge for awhile but this post tipped me over the edge and I finally deleted them from my blog roll. I simply do not need that sort of negativity in my feed reader.
    belghast´s last post: Fairwell to Highmaul

    • Reply
      The Mystical Mesmer
      January 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      I did so a couple of months ago, unfortunately. I used to enjoy reading the site but somewhere along the line the author’s attitude worsened considerably and is now too toxic for me to bear.

  • Reply
    Jaedia
    January 30, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Jeeeesus.. “most of them probably haven’t even played more than one MMORPG, if that”… What utter bollocks.

    “Massively’s popularity turned “hundreds of thousands of people into sheeple”” .. people follow, it’s what they do.

    “Perhaps he believes that the demise of Massively will somehow make his blog more precious and special” Honestly? I follow Keen & Graev.. but I rarely read it. I don’t see much there that interests me or that I even agree with. Massively reports the news. And is great with the community. They’ve got a wonderful podcast, they stream, they interact, they link-out.. you don’t have to agree with everything they say to recognise that it’s a website worth saving.

    And good for you for standing up for this. /cheer!
    Jaedia´s last post: Top Ten Books I Would Like To Get To This Year

  • Reply
    The Guilty Party
    January 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Huh, people still read Keen’s blog? It’s 90% whining about how things aren’t like they used to be and circular arguments supporting said old ways. You don’t really need to read it to know what it’ll contain.

    Which I guess makes it clearer why he wouldn’t like Massively. For the most part, Massively was positive about things. There were definitely critical pieces and whatnot, but the vast majority of news stories seemed to try to find the good in a particular MMO, because there’s always someone who’ll enjoy almost any weird conglomeration of features and art and why shouldn’t they have a place to discuss and hear about their particular poison?

  • Reply
    Aywren
    January 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I’ve been seeing that jerky attitude sprinkled around Twitter as well. Seems like people who support that so-called-movement-from-last-year-that-shall-not-be-named think it’s some sort of win for said movement because “gaming mass media is bad.” Therefore, their attitude is that “Massively is getting what it deserves.”

    A real shame to see that attitude trickle into blogging as well. You’d think writers would have some sympathy for fellow writers/gamers in a time like this.

    Also, it’s just been confirmed on Massively. Sad times. http://massively.joystiq.com/2015/01/30/massively-that-was/
    Aywren´s last post: Game Geography: Tomb Safari

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      January 30, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      There seems to be this idea in gaming circles that anything that’s “professional”, as in done in exchange for money, is bad. And no, I wouldn’t want the ONLY source of MMO analysis to come from paid sites, and I love our amateur blogosphere, but it’s also good for us all to have people who make a living from writing about MMOs.

      • Reply
        Murf
        January 31, 2015 at 12:41 am

        Agreed. Even if I don’t have any intention to go professional, I liked dreaming about the thought from time to time. Without a targets for my dreams, my time as a MMO blogger becomes directly tied to my willingness to write purely out of my passion for doing so. Without places like Massively, I have to come to terms that “this is it” and that I may never get more hits, more comments, or more influence ever.
        Murf´s last post: Project #Murflocke: I am the alpha. #Pokemon

  • Reply
    Shintar
    January 30, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Wow, that is one seriously douchey post by Keen. Ironic too, considering that he seems to spend a lot more time pontificating about MMOs than actually playing them!

    I’ve probably disagreed with Massively more often than not, and the comment section there can be a veritable hotbed of uninformed opinions sometimes, but I still visit the site daily and would hate to see it shut down. It’s a great place to stay up-do-date about what’s going on in the world of MMOs at large, whether I played them or not.
    Shintar´s last post: Adventures in Old Content

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      January 30, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Hah, Shintar, your opener made me laugh out loud when I read it. :)

  • Reply
    Victor Barreiro Jr.
    January 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Two things.

    1. I love the layout of this site.

    2. You’ve encapsulated everything I could say on the matter rather well. Massively’s loss is a blow for the MMO community, especially as it served as a unifying force for goodwill as much as information.

    I just want to end by saying I really dislike Keen today. :(
    Victor Barreiro Jr.´s last post: I’m embracing the Guild Wars 2 Hype

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      January 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks Victor! It’s nice to get feedback about the site. :) And yes, there is an important difference between having a critical opinion and being disrespectful, and that post crossed the line.

  • Reply
    Green Armadillo
    January 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    This is not a good day for the industry. There are major structural conflicts of interest in gaming journalism, and I think these became more apparent over the last year after the last round of staff cuts at Massively. Even so, there is no obvious substitute for the site, and that will do no favors to an industry that is not in the best of shape at the moment.
    Green Armadillo´s last post: Heroes of the Storm Alpha Business Model – Complaints Heard And Disregarded

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      January 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      Yes, precisely! The MMO community has lost a resource today, and not gained anything at all.

  • Reply
    RohanV
    January 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    In Keen’s defense, his first impression/interaction with Massively was a particularly negative one. They were stealing/reposting content from his site.

    (I note that this accusation is completely ignored in this post.)

    If that’s your initial introduction to a site or person, you’re going to take them in severe dislike. Quite frankly, you’re going to look for more reasons to dislike them.

    Keen may not have been completely fair from a dispassionate perspective, but I’m not certain he was completely unfair either.
    RohanV´s last post: Bans, Warriors, and Pyrolysis

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      January 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Massively possibly stealing content from KnG back in the day (they may well have been, I honestly have no idea) is not at all germaine to whether or not Massively today is full of fake gamers who don’t deserve their jobs writing press releases for an army of “sheeple”. I just calls ’em like I sees ’em.

      • Reply
        carson63000
        January 30, 2015 at 1:43 pm

        You did kinda completely ignore Keen’s primary complaint whilst attacking his post, though. Plagiarizing other people’s content for profit is a little more serious than “being mass market” and “not playing enough MMOs”.
        carson63000´s last post: Went shopping

        • Reply
          Jessica Cook
          January 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm

          Then I would point you back at the post itself! The “primary complaint” takes up one paragraph of six — the bulk of the post is dedicated to attacking Massively’s current writers and editors as being mass market and not experienced with MMOs, as well as describing Massively’s readership as “sheeple”.

          If Keen chose to write a post about his experiences having his content plagarized then I would have no issue with that. Instead he chose to write a post where the majority of the text was maligning Massively’s writers and readers with thin arguments like “they probably don’t even play MMOs”, and concluding that he hopes they all lose their jobs. Far beyond the pale, in my opinion.

          • bhagpuss
            January 30, 2015 at 3:21 pm

            As I intended to suggest in my reply to Keen’s post, stuff gets stolen on the internet all the time. I write my blog for my own amusement and to keep a record of what I am doing. I don’t like it when someone lifts something I’ve posted and reuses it without credit, which has happened, but neither do I particularly care. It’s not as though either the readers or the money involved would ever have come to me in any case so really why worry? Yes, it’s almost certainly upsetting at the time it happens but it’s surely not worth holding a grudge for years, is it?

            In any case, the situation Keen describes happened, was dealt with and has been resolved. Draw a line under it and move on.

          • Murf
            January 31, 2015 at 12:47 am

            I’d be upset if someone stole my content for profit, but I would also be a little excited that some opportunist found a way to turn a buck where I hadn’t too.

            Either way, I would’ve gotten over it by now. I don’t hold petty grudges (at least not with any sincerity, AHEM ELECTRONICS ARTS YOU OSI-KILLING BASTARDS).
            Murf´s last post: Project #Murflocke: I am the alpha. #Pokemon

          • Murf
            January 31, 2015 at 12:49 am

            I think the sheeple comment is particularly fascinating since K&G is one of a few better-established MMORPG blogs I don’t visit precisely because their comments section is usually a lot of people agreeing wholeheartedly with their inane or petty arguments.
            Murf´s last post: Project #Murflocke: I am the alpha. #Pokemon

          • j3w3l
            February 1, 2015 at 8:12 pm

            lol at this murf.. spot on.
            j3w3l´s last post: Building in Terraria

      • Reply
        RohanV
        January 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        I’m not saying he’s right. I’m saying his dislike of Massively is understandable.

        First impressions matter, and a seriously bad first impression like that is going to be hard to overcome.

        Surely there’s a company out there that you’ve had a bad experience with, and as such dislike them? Even if your incident is not reflective of their normal or future practices.

        Heh, I bet if Massively had been pro-GamerGate, you might have written the same post that Keen did.
        RohanV´s last post: Bans, Warriors, and Pyrolysis

        • Reply
          Jessica Cook
          January 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          Keen is certainly welcome to dislike Massively! And I am welcome in turn to think that his post has gone overboard on the jerk-o-meter about it.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Balkoth
    January 30, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I’ll throw my hat into the ring of “Got disgusted and fed up with K&G a long time ago.” Hearing that he’s up to nonsense like this hardly surprises me.
    Balkoth´s last post: On Being Permanently Banned For 143 Minutes

  • Reply
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