MMOs are a strange sub-genre of video games. As noted this month… and just about every month… it is tough to even define what an MMO is. People claim some things are MMOs that meet almost none of what I would consider the baseline requirements, while Smed was trying to tell us that H1Z1 wasn’t an MMO despite the fact that it seems to meet nearly all the criteria I would use to make that determination.
And how many video game sub-genres get this much focus?
If you want to find video game news sites, they are plentiful, as are sites that narrow that down to games on a specific platform.
Or, if you want to find a site that focuses on a specific title or series of games, that seems pretty doable.
But when you start talking about video-game subgenres… action RPGs or text adventures or turn-based strategy or simulations… the sites start to get a little niche.
MMOs though… MMOs are a little different. We have had sites and magazines and columns in major publications dedicated to just our own favorite genre.
I started this site at the height of what I would call the golden age of MMO blogging. It was the VirginWorlds podcast era, a show that brought a lot of people together and was, in a way, emblematic of the time. Brent could climb into the converted sauna that served as his recording studio and bang out about an hour of content once a week that would really cover all the important news we wanted to hear.
MMOs were all about success back then, they made lots of money, and the few oddball titles that got closed were clearly going down because of bad design or bad execution. World of Warcraft, while already wildly distorting the measure of success in the genre, seemed to herald continued growth and endless possibilities. People wanted to talk about them, argue over them, and most of all, hear about the next great thing that was sure to come.
And I think that all of this came about because MMOs are such a social video game genre.
A lot more people played FarmVille than any MMO, and a lot more probably play Candy Crush Saga. But if you meet somebody else who plays one of those games, there generally isn’t a ton of excitement over it.
But if I meet somebody who plays an MMO that I play, it has to become “what server, what class, what level, do you know so-and-so, how about the next update/expansion they are talking about” and so on. (And if I meet somebody who plays EVE Online, just go away for an hour or two, because we have to figure out how we are linked… and we always are in some odd way… in New Eden.)
And the social nature of our hobby has led us to have almost an over abundance of site covering MMOs. We have MMORPG.com, Ten Ton Hammer, MMO Champion and Massively all trying to cover all aspects of the genre as well as a host of sites that drill down and concentrate of smaller aspects. There is such an array of choices that I cut back the MMO news site feeds to what I considered the bare essentials. The MMO news sites in my reader today are:
- Massively – Nearly all things MMO
- MMO Fallout – Filled in the corners for NCsoft and Jagex and a few other topics
- WoW Insider – Everything I needed to know about WoW
- EQ2 Wire – Everything anybody sane needs to know about EverQuest II
- The Mittani and EVE News 24 – All EVE Online, with comedic juxtaposition
However, as we learned today, that list is getting the chopped by two very soon.
Rumors had already been floating around about how AOL was going to shut down Joystiq and all sites under the Joystiq domain, a domain that includes both Massively and WoW Insider. (WoW Insider was WoW.com for a brief moment in time before AOL thought the domain was better off hosting a half-assed Groupon clone… which they later closed.)
If you go back to the first snapshot of the site over at the Internet Archieve, it is fun to see what they opened up with; Tabula Rasa, Echoes of Faydwer for EQ2, EVE Online, whether or not there was going to be a Knights of the Old Republic based MMO, and, of course, Second Life! I remember people complaining about there being too damn much Second Life coverage on Massively for the first year or so. And, of course, the Welcome to Massively post, which laid out the intentions for the site. The first paragraph:
This is it. The design is in place, our bloggers are trained and at the ready, and the password has been lifted from the site. Our brand new blog, Massively, is now live and ready for your perusal, your comments, your tips, and your eyeballs. Here, you’ll find breaking news about MMO games both upcoming and established, insightful and wisecracking commentary about your favorite worlds, tips on how to get all your characters in all those universes the best they can be, and the high level of quality you’ve come to expect from WoW Insider, Second Life Insider, Joystiq and the Fanboy network. This is Massively, and welcome to it.
That was still in the heyday of MMO blogs and for a couple of GDCs up in San Francisco, meeting up with Brent and a couple people from Massively and other members of our blogging circle would be something of a tradition. (pictures from 2008, 2009, 2010)
So it is a sad moment as we bid farewell to both Massively and WoW Insider. But that is the nature of life and the web and blogging. People show up for a season, we interact, and maybe they stay longer or maybe they move on… but we all move on eventually. And so we remember two sites about to depart. They will both go away on February 3rd… Tuesday… Patch day.
- WoW Insider – November 2005 to February 2015
- Massively – November 2007 to February 2015
Others in our little corner… and outside of it as well… are also writing about Massively and WoW Insider.
- Alt:ernative Chat
- Blessing of Kings
- Contains Moderate Peril
- Endgame Viable (follow up)
- EQ2 Wire
- Game Politics
- Games and Geekery
- Growing Up in Azeroth
- Healing the Masses
- Herding Cats
- MMO Fallout
- MMO Quests
- Party Business (follow up)
- Inventory Full
- Why I Game
- The Cynic Dialogs
- Leo’s Life
- Gaming SF
- The Mystical Mesmer
- Tales of the Aggronaut
- Bio Break
- Clean Casuals
- Going Commando
- MMO Gypsy
- Gaming Conversations
- Hardcore Casual
- Casual Aggro
- Kill Ten Rats
- Kitty Kitty Boom Boom
Now who is going to fix all my links to both sites so they hit the Internet Archive instead of whatever doubtless horrible site will end up in their place?
And who should be in my feed now?
And, finally, the only thing I am sure AOL will be remembered for.