Ask Mo: Re-reviewing MMORPGs and birthday shenanigans
Mo's been collecting letters to the editor for me to address in Ask Mo for the past month or two, and this one from longtime Massively OP community member Siphaed keeps floating to the top:
"Why is it that MMOs get a one-and-done review within a month of a game's release date? With the way these games are persistent living worlds that keep changing, updating, and evolving over time, shouldn't there be follow up reviews? Would this not be better for potential customers of these game as well as individuals who are searching sites for reviews and only come across ancient ones that don't reflect the more recent state of the product? This would also allow a better reflection of the game's post-launch condition as normal standing. The chaos that ensues with a game's launch could throw of customers for good without further review down the road. Servers, overpopulation, down time, patches, and so on. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect launch."
"To that end, wouldn't developers benefit from trying to promote news sites into doing reviews at certain stages of the game's life? Many media press outlets are given access to the game early, sometimes on a private server before the game launched with other players (they're basically playing with press and developers). A developer doesn't lose much by providing a new account to a press member with a monthly VIP/sub to go into and re-review a game based on its current state. I cannot think of much negative around this beyond that month happening around a major disaster (any month that ArcheAge patches, for example) which would reflect poorly on the product to potential readers.
The media would also benefit form this by having more material for which to make articles about (not that sites like Massively don't already cover practically ever MMO and their patches anyways)."
Way back in 2012, I tackled a similar complaint from then-Star Trek Online Producer Daniel Stahl, who argued that one-off launch ratings and metacritic did MMORPGs, which take a long time to play and absorb, a serious disservice.
I agreed with him, to a point, which is part of the reason we don't put out one-off, comprehensive, do-or-die reviews and review scores, and why we prefer to run columns and impressions and deep-dives like Choose My Adventure and our streams. So to Siphaed's question about why "MMOs get a one-and-done review within a month of a game's release date" -- well, they don't, from us! From more mainstream outlets, though? I'd assume that's because they treat an MMORPG the way they treat any other one-off game: It's a novelty when it's a novelty and then it's not. The broader industry marches to the beat of new and newer. "Old" MMOs are a comparatively minor thing to them.
And hey, some developers do try to get us to return to their games for another look! Whether they do that successfully depends on several factors. If either our writers or readers are curious about or still clearly care about a game, we'll probably go back and poke around to see what's worth reporting on. When none of our writers is interested or our readers have proven with their comments and page views that the game isn't worth talking about, the reality is that sending a "scout" in for a new hands-on would likely be a waste of time and money on all fronts.
This is one of the reasons we love tips so much. I'd say the majority of the tips we get are not actually tipping us off to anything we didn't already know about, but I treat them as essentially a vote in favor of actually publishing it or publishing it faster. Tips are a great way for our most dedicated readers to tell us what they want to read about (and what they think everyone else should want to read about). We love them.
It's actually a bit sad when the PR lines dry up entirely (or never materialize to begin with) because games can't devote money to PR, in which case we will often try to cover games we like anyway. But for sites like ours, we have to carefully balance covering our pet favorites with our readers' desires and with the scale of development in the game.
It's been almost a year since Massively. Got anything planned for MassivelyOP's first birthday?
Sure do! Expect festivities next Thursday on the big day!