Ask Mo: The state of Massively Overpowered

Ask Mo is back, and today Mo and I are answering a few meta questions about Massively OP itself. Our first question is from long-time supporter Pierre:

Hello guys! I’ve been worrying for a long time now about something. I think I know the answer to my question, but I wanted to be sure because MOP is such a great website and I feel you’re in your element with the freedom you get from running the site yourself, and I don’t want to see the site disappear in the near future. So my question basically is: How does it go financially? Can the site live on with all the incomes from the Patreon (not much but normal for Patreon) and from advertising? Do you need another Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign?

Toward the end of a recent Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I dished a bit on the state of the site, but hey, not everyone listens to the podcast, so I thought Pierre’s question was worth another tackle in print. So here’s the executive summary! The site is currently operating in the black thanks to advertising, Kickstarter, and Patreon. We’ve had some staff turnover and have brought in a new tech manager and welcomed back two former Massively writers, the most recent of whom is Matt Daniel, who took over fan-favorite Choose My Adventure. The newest addition to our line-up is The Mop Up, in which Justin is chronicling all the little games we don’t have ink to cover during the week. We like the little games! And our chief overseas freelancer just scored a wee grant for his work in education and online games media. This is beyond awesome.

I would obviously love to be making a whole lot more for the site — who wouldn’t? — so that we can expand it even more than we already have, so don’t think we’ll be sitting back and taking it easy. It’s a rough market, but our hits are already far higher than they were toward the end of our run on Massively-that-was, and we’ve pubbed just under 3200 articles as I type this (yowza!). Our sales manager has made miracles happen, our writers have worked like dogs, our tech guy is a PHP wizard, and our community has stuck by us all the way. I’m frankly thrilled. I never thought I’d be saying that Massively-that-was being jettisoned was the best thing that ever happened to us, but there it is.

That was the short version; you can check out the long version on the podcast; it starts around the 58-minute mark and goes on for over 15 minutes because we like to talk! And if you’d like to chip in to help the site, Patreon is the place.

Here’s another site-related question, this one from Tatacocoman:

I have just gotten back into playing Guild Wars 2, and wondered if this site had any official guilds in any games, or anything. I knew the old WoW Insider site had an official guild, and it was a really cool experience all around. They did events, and hosted parties on the in game holidays. Massively OP should consider doing the same, at least in the games it covers most. On that note, I am also curious as to why a community driven site like Massivelyop doesn’t have any sort of forum. I know the WRUPs and the daily discussion posts are meant to scratch the communal itch, but a place for the commentators to go to begin their own discussions (without crowding a post’s comments) or advertise for guilds or whatnot in the games we so often talk about.

I know it’s not quite so simple as just opening a forum and letting ’em have at it, but for the most part, this site has a pretty solid group of people following it. I’m sure at least a few of them would volunteer to moderate a forum, and/or officiate Massively OP guilds. It’d be a pretty cool thing to see, and a logical next step in this site’s evolution.

We heard you liked guilds, so we got you some guilds!

Forums are still on the table as something we might someday do, though we’ve got some work left to do before they are properly integrated with comments, which tend to be a bit more timely. And as you correctly surmise, the moderating power required to run forums that are a net positive for the site is actually tremendous and not something we’d take on lightly.

So, volunteers — why don’t we use them? During MJ’s vacation in August, Roy had the same thought:

With MJ on vacation, I wondered, has Massively Overpowered thought about having volunteer streamers? It could work two ways.

  • Volunteers apply, stating when they could stream and what game, and if it fits into schedule (since obviously MOP staff gets dibs) they get to stream.
  • MOP sets up specific times when they would accept volunteer streamers. So, MOP sets 2 p.m. on Sunday, and people volunteer for the slot, a selection process would be needed with that.

Either way, someone would need to be in charge of controlling the Authorized Broadcasters on Twitch, to prevent abuse. Also, if the guest broadcasts were to be uploaded to Youtube, it would fall on a member of MOP staff. Being volunteers, they wouldn’t be paid of course. They could just be willing to help out. Or possibly they are appearing as a guest, to advertise their own channel. A tit for tat situation, possibly mixing viewers.

Let’s play with numbers. I adore numbers.

Twenty-five people gave us $250 apiece during our Kickstarter, selecting the reward that would allow them to write and submit an editorial piece of their choosing to run on the site. To date, exactly three of them have done so.

Now, I say this not to pick on them. Some of them no doubt just wanted to donate $250 and didn’t care a fig for the reward. Other people have forgotten, don’t care that much, couldn’t settle on a topic, haven’t finished it, or just haven’t gotten around to it. That is entirely, completely their right, and I don’t begrudge them a single bit. We’ll run it regardless, even if it’s five years from now. There never was a deadline or any pressure on it.

But it’s worth remembering that volunteers have different motivations than contractors, as do donors. And if people care enough about us to pay us $250 and still aren’t motivated to write a post to air their opinions and gather up free publicity, consider how unmotivated volunteers, who have no financial stake in the site either way, will feel.

This is not to say that volunteers are worthless, either. Volunteers make large portions of the internet go round. In fact, volunteers do most of the work on most of the gaming websites you read. I’ll never say never because sometimes it really can work — plus we already host guests on the vidcast! — so let me just end with a nebulous maybe someday.

Are video games doomed? What do MMORPGs look like from space? Did free-to-play ruin everything? Will people ever stop talking about Star Wars Galaxies? Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and mascot Mo every month as they answer your letters to the editor right here in Ask Mo.
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97 Comments on "Ask Mo: The state of Massively Overpowered"

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jauffins
Guest
jauffins

breetoplay I’m (obviously) glad to hear things are going well. I’m currently at a podcast backlog and think I’m up to… June or July, for all of my podcasts? So I haven’t heard the most recent podcast yet. Thanks so much for posting this here!

I was curious, have you looked anymore into merchandising? I know there was some demand (from myself, included!) for a Mo plushie in the spring. I ask because a lot of other smaller internet business (think YouTube visual media) go with the t-shirt, mug, accessory route and it seems to help them out. There are a few companies that specialize in this and would likely help spread the cost around so as to lower it to a point where margins may make it worth your while.

Whatever you choose, know that myself and many others are here to support you. You offer a free service, and it is a fantastic service!

Denngar
Guest
Denngar

Eliot_Lefebvre I remember. They weren’t used much, and not always the best, but it was something. Used very sparingly (like maybe for grass-roots in-game events or RL meets), maybe it could work.

Denngar
Guest
Denngar

Duur Agreed. I still feel “homeless” for my general gaming news. Kotaku’s a bit too crowded (still a fan since I live in Japan), Destructoid’s not bad but the community can feel too cliquey to me, and Polygon… some good articles, but I feel like they’re over-applying their thesaurus skills to make things sound fresh but end up coming off as pseudo-intellectuals (again, some good content, but as someone who reads actual research journals, their work feels unnecessarily burdened with flourishes).

GeneMartin2
Guest
GeneMartin2

I planned to write an article on Star Citizen once it launched in the Fall based on a much earlier time table. Needless to say, Star Citizen isn’t close to launching. Character creator isn’t even in for their social module yet. But I promise, I will write an article for you guys! Sorry :(

confectionally
Guest
confectionally

Eliot_Lefebvre confectionally Yeah, I bet not ;)

Eliot_Lefebvre
Guest
Eliot_Lefebvre

squidgod2000 We did forums briefly.  It didn’t work out super great.

Eliot_Lefebvre
Guest
Eliot_Lefebvre

confectionally No one wonders about it more than us.  I enjoy eating and paying the rent so much, you don’t even know.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Snichy Craywulf Tethyss 
That’s what I thought. But only XI and XIV are MMO’s, which would negate any claim that MOP has a final Fantasy slant. So the poster would need to qualify if this was the case.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Craywulf ManastuUtakata 
Nope. Never. Not even an option. <3

Budukahn
Guest
Budukahn

If nothing else, I’m glad to hear that the site is doing better post switch than it was under AOL.  I was pretty dismayed when I heard Massively-that-was was shutting down so knowing that it’s got a future is definitely good news!

Budukahn
Guest
Budukahn

squidgod2000 I’d actually quite like to see forums and have a place to discuss MMO issues with the somewhat higher calibre of commentator found here versus the other MMO sites I have encountered.  
Sadly I have to admit that most of those other sites have forums of some sort…

Snichy
Guest
Snichy

Craywulf Tethyss Final Fantasy?!

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

alexjwillis I live in Tarnished Coast. Probably the friendliest server because of the strong RP community.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

squidgod2000 I agree, forums would degrade the MOP brand, and create unwanted gossip and drama.  However I do think there’s a way to do them, As I’ve suggested in kickstarter that Forums could be temporary. They could be open 24 hours once a month with like 2 different topics. All posts would remain on topic or deleted. After 24 hours is up, the threads stay up but locked, until the next month when they are open again or entirely new set of topics. This way would allow MOP staff not to be overwhelmed by moderating 24/7. One day a month isn’t too bad.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

ManastuUtakata Anyone can get hits, but can you actually hold a discussion without referring to your fictional pigtails?

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

imperialpanda It’s not a question of quality, but rather reliability and perception.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

Duur Every site has it’s bias, including massively. However they tend to be upfront about it.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

Tethyss If you don’t mind…could you clarify…what is FF?

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

Veldan Welcome, better late than never. ;-)

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

breetoplay Dezmo 
Oh…so Mikedot hangs out with Mr. Crawler now? o.O

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

“but our hits are already far higher than they were toward the end of our run on Massively-that-was”
I am one of those people that only started viewing this website after its rebirth. To be honest, I have Mark Jacobs to thank for that. He posted something about massively on the CU website and I was like “massively… what’s this?”. Now I’m viewing the site every day :)

Radfist
Guest
Radfist

Oh you have a EQ2 Stormhold guild! Might have to join up on my non-raid alts for some adventures.
Also really happy that you guys are doing well.  Pretty much the only MMO site I visit these days :D

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

I certainly can vouch for the idea that simply funding this thing is reward enough. Of course, I dodn’t have 250 bones to throw at the site but, hey. XD
Great to know the site is running in the black. It’s good to be among the camraderie. :D

Tethyss
Guest
Tethyss

The site writers seemed slanted toward FF but overall good job so far.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

peyo01 It’s all good.. you don’t owe us a listen or a post. All in good time! <3

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Dope_Danny Not intentionally, nope!

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Dezmo Toli was hired away by ArenaNet almost immediately (replaced with Tina before we even had the KS live). We replaced our tech guy a few months in, and then Mike was hired away by Riot (and we replaced him with Matt earlier this summer). Everyone else is the same. :D

Duur
Guest
Duur

Wanted to help Massively OP, and didn’t know how to. I’m now a Patron because of this post, thanks. Why? Hate how the other gaming sites praise crappy games for money, it’s clear how legit you guys are. Keep up the good work.

Scarecrowe
Guest
Scarecrowe

Thanks for the write-up — I can read far far more quickly than listening to a podcast. (and I’ve never really “gotten” podcasts so there’s that. I’m probably just too old…)  Good to hear you guys are doing ok and becoming more successful.

Linaea
Guest
Linaea

So happy to hear (again) that the site is doing well. The difference from a reader’s perspective is clear, as well — there is so much more content on the site now, and I don’t feel that as much falls through the cracks as it (understandably) did in the bad old days.

A suggestion about the Patreon funding, though I know it might be difficult to implement — perhaps more people might be interested in funding if they could amass points towards a larger reward? Like veteran rewards or something?

Speaking as one of the slackers who owes you an article, I agree that relying on volunteers is a shaky plan. Though I wish there were others able to fill in on the stream front when MJ is away as Mike used to do — her recent vacation left me feeling rather bereft.

Dezmo
Guest
Dezmo

What turnover? Who left?

amoranth
Guest
amoranth

The MOP team has really been doing a great job of taking care of this site. In my opinion MOP is superior in every way to the Massively-that-was; you guys even handled the sudden transition excellently. MOP’s KS is the only Kickstarter that I have backed so far that I feel has completely delivered on it’s promises, and then some. Hopefully the site and the community keep going strong, and may greater things come! Viva la Massively!

imperialpanda
Guest
imperialpanda

I think having a paid staff contributes to higher quality content on massively. There are obviously many fantastic volunteers, but on average volunteers are less dependable and have higher turnover. Yet at the same time it’s not entirely reasonable to hold them to the same standards as paid contributors, since, obviously, they’re working for free. It is a lot of trouble to manage, especially if you want to maintain a high level of quality.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

squidgod2000 i think meet up forums could be really cool.  I wouldnt want them to waste too much time modding it though.

Rheem Octuris
Guest
Rheem Octuris

Forums would be nice, but I think a nice little IRC server/channel would be better. Maybe have a built in web client on the site so anyone can join. Would require less moderation from a forum (and more spam-proof), and you can put an ad over the top of web client to generate some cash-flow. On top of that if its someone else’s server then its basically free, though asking permission is probably a good idea.

Kaiser Sosey
Guest
Kaiser Sosey

I listened to this update on the podcast, and thought hey they should really do a post on this lol. Here we are. I can’t tell you how happy I am that things have worked out for the Massively gang. I know it was a thrown into the fire thing at first, but you guys and gals worked tirelessly and the end result is amazing! Massively OP is THE best gaming news site hands down. The competition isn’t even close. I read all of the articles, even about games I may never play because they are just that good.

I visit the site at least several times a day. I have learned a TON from the posts and comments and the back and forth. I remember stumbling onto Massively years ago when Shawn was running it, and quickly realized it was something special and would be the one site I go to. Kudos to the staff for keeping that feeling going. This has always been a special place, and that’s not an easy feat with all the competition out there.

 Thanks for taking the chance and continuing the site we all  love. Starting your own thing is a HUGE venture filled with all kinds of emotions, especially with what happened to you all. And with all of this going on, you kept up the quality of the articles like it was second nature while building the site and adding new things along the way.

/salute

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

PS: Congrats on your ongoing success, MOP! <3

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

My pigtails would like submit a weekly column, since they post here a lot. Trust me…they would delve into subject matters that would generate lots of hits. >.>
(I can almost hear Bree saying, “I think not!”)

CastagereShaikura
Guest
CastagereShaikura

A Dad Supreme CastagereShaikura Your probably right. But the forums over there are truly nasty at times.

GabeNewellFetish
Guest
GabeNewellFetish

Maybe distinguish yourself from the rest, by focusing on the quality of each piece of content rather than the combined total “3200 articles”. That’s a ton of daily articles, most of which just crap-up RSS feeds.

A Dad Supreme
Guest
A Dad Supreme

CastagereShaikura I think it had more to do with their reviewers and staff willing to hand out positive reviews for swag from companies, then the forum folks just took their cue from there.

Dope_Danny
Guest
Dope_Danny

Question: is the little knight in the logo based on Solaire?

Kaiser Sosey
Guest
Kaiser Sosey

breetoplay Rozyn I have a friend like this, he gets massive amounts of stuff done in games in short order. Goes in and always has a plan of what he wants to do. I get like a1/4 of what he gets done, I’m always left in the dust. I also have to consider that He is single and never gets interrupted unless it’s the pizza guy with his dinner, and I have 3 kids and a Wife and am lucky if I can 10 uninterrupted minutes of game time in a row lol

AlexSmithWI
Guest
AlexSmithWI

squidgod2000 Yes, and no.  I do wish there was more community here.  For things like a voice server and guilds(and based on one of the questions in this post I’m not the only one).

alexjwillis
Guest
alexjwillis

squidgod2000 I would like to register my pre-regret here.

squidgod2000
Guest
squidgod2000

Please don’t do forums. You’ll regret it.

Grimmtooth
Guest
Grimmtooth

breetoplay Greaterdivinity Sign me up for a GW2 Guild.. I almost started a new guild & posted it on here for anyone to join two weeks ago but stopped at the last minute. It was a good thing to because well LIFE happens.
The name I had picked out was <MOP Heads> but <So Much Mass’ Litterbox> would work as well. 
(ok the 2nd one is way to inside joke .. but funny)

Seriously I’m willing to help set one up.

rioinsignia
Guest
rioinsignia

This site is the first place I come to every day for MMO news, and the last site I check for updates before going to bed.
I agree that splitting from your previous masters was the best thing that could have happened.  I hope they are kicking themselves.
Keep up the fantastic work guys.   
You’re all awesome.
They can’t stop the signal.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

breetoplay Greaterdivinity I think this is a great idea!

Nordavind
Guest
Nordavind

Funny thing, I was just thinking about this not 3 hours ago:

While I do want forums, I want them to be completely separated from the comment section. Don’t let the comment section of an article be a thread in the forums. Do not go the path of MMORPG. In fact, let the forums be a separate, local login.

But most importantly, let the forum be 100 % optional and only for those who want to use them. Don’t make incentives (like have forum-exclusive contests) to make people sign up and use them. Let articles and comments be the bread and butter, and the forums the dessert for those not on a diet.

wpDiscuz