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.

One more!

Aaron tweeted,

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!

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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33 Comments on "Ask Mo: Re-reviewing MMORPGs and birthday shenanigans"

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BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

SallyBowls1 This is why I scoff when I hear someone comment about the "liberal media". The 'media' isn't liberal, it's capitalist. Any business will gravitate towards areas that will give them the largest profits, news outlets included. The power is, truly, in the consumers hands. So frequent sites you like, turn off the ad-blocker on them, link to them, and support them through their related efforts, like Massively does with Amazon and Patreon.

BryanCo
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BryanCo

SallyBowls1 At a company I used to work for any time someone in upper management disappeared a memo would appear saying that the individual in question had "taken a personal leave of absence, effectively immediately."  No one ever returned from one of those leaves.
PS This wasn't referring to Jef's departure, just an aside on corporate-speak.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

SallyBowls1 breetoplay ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk 
I first brought it up here half down in the comments of this OP podcast the week after the New Year, to which Bree indicated he left:
http://massivelyop.com/2016/01/05/massively-op-podcast-episode-45-mmos-in-the-new-year/
But to be fair though, one does not go to the Podcast to read comments. :)

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Grumpy reality time:
1) The reasons that sites like this don't cover the follow up is because of readers like you. I.e., not just in games journalism, it is the new in news that gets the readers. If re-reviewing one or 3 year old games was worth the effort (page views vs cost to produce), I am sure sites, including this one, would do it.  The staff here were skeptical of the no expansion plans of DBG and CCP because less new stuff is less coverage.  The same development effort for an expansion gets more coverage than just a patch.  MH realized they could take it to the next level and make not just an expansion but a new game.    

2) companies would like a mention; whether it is because the game has a year anniversary or the week has a Tuesday in it. But game comanies can only hire so many PR people and Bree can only afford to purchase so many words from her team each month.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk Hmm, I read a lot of the site and don't recall it being addressed once.  Must have missed those times.  I recently did check the list of staff to see he was not listed.

P.S.: When two other companies were suing each other, I was deposed to discuss our company's finances to establish damages.  When someone asked about one of our VPs I  started the "He er ... is no longer with the firm" line when a lawyer interrupted with "gone the way of all flesh"  which was a more prosaic description of the cycle of business life than I was expecting from a lawyer.

aaronweddle1
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aaronweddle1

SallyBowls1 aaronweddle1 lol u assume i wear underwear

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay Xijit  Nah, you don't need to put any planning or effort into KS; just ask Smed. :-)

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

aaronweddle1 GRZ! Your mother was correct o be careful what you say; it could end up being public. But she was not correct about wearing good underwear in case of ER.

aaronweddle1
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aaronweddle1

WOW never excepted my  tweet to end up in a post

Caec
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Caec

The very nature of MMOs lends itself to ongoing community blogs, write-ups, just a metric ton of things for a prospective player to devour, and if an MMO does not, well...that's a big red flag right there. So, I've always found the idea that there should be some outrage that publications like IGN don't do some ongoing "review" to be...a bit blind.

Akami
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Akami

What ever happened to the MO cartoons?

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

RagnarTheDrunk ManastuUtakata 
And yes...Jef, how we miss thee. /sigh

dorn2
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dorn2

MMO's rarely really change though. FFXIV is the only one I know of that did a complete turn around.  Some of them like SWTOR make improvements but they don't really address the big points that people truly disliked.

Instead of changing they just scale down and serve the audience that actually likes the game.  Only in cases like Wildstar where that audience is to damn small will the game continue to fail.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

breetoplay ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk I hope he didn't become a facts checker for someone..../grin

Xijit
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Xijit

breetoplay Xijit 
Just a suggestion, as I have no experience with running a MMO site, but I would put the "WRUP" & "Glit yo Guild" options down in the lowest tiers ...

There are a lot of regulars that religiously post to the WRUP and ... well, I guess I shouldn't try to speak for everyone, but I know I would have no reservation about chipping in $5 for that.

As for the "Glit" one ... I know of absolutely no guild on the interwebs that could organize themselves into collectively funding $400 for an advertisement on a gaming blog, for a single month. However, I do know of a boat load of guilds where the GL shells out for everything as a labor of love, and most of those guys would have no problem paying $10 to see their pet project's name show up on Massively (I know I would have back when I was doing it).
Just to hop back on the soap box I wheel out every time overpriced cash shops come up: nets with smaller webs catch more fish & I am sure that it would be much easier to find 40 guild leaders willing to shell out $10 a month, than it has been trying to find 1 guild leader willing to pay $400.

Kanbe
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Kanbe

Ok I cant resist, for MOP's big one year running celebration Bree will get a day to relax and actually a play games XP

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Damonvile Yeah, that too! When they put out new content, and sometimes we'll do "end of the year" recaps in our columns on the big games, just to sort of see how the year went and whether promises were kept.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

Don't mmos get thier rereview when they launch new content?
Its kind of the big difference between them and the one off games.
If an mmo goes years without doing anything that gets people talking and looking at it maybe it deserves to fade away with only it's original review to tell it's tale ?

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Xijit Heya Xijit. Kickstarter was basically a full-time job for an entire month, all by itself. I can't physically do that again! We'll be looking at revising some Patreon tiers again in the coming months. (FWIW, some of them are priced high specifically so that people can do one-off types of donations, not because we really expect people to keep donating that every month. The vast majority of our donors are in the $1-$5/mo range. :D)

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Craywulf I don't really see how it was a review or a reintroduction, honestly. That article was literally advice on how to approach the game as a true newbie, how to navigate it, what to do first, what to skip. Only someone who knows the game's tricks would even be able to write that.

RagnarTheDrunk
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RagnarTheDrunk

breetoplay ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk OK, thanks Bree.

RagnarTheDrunk
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RagnarTheDrunk

ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk OK, thanks. Bummer though, I think his gaming preferences most closely matched mine.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

ManastuUtakata RagnarTheDrunk Yeah we've addressed this a few times. He no longer writes for us. ;)

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

RagnarTheDrunk 
From what I got from asking Mo this a month back, is that he quietly pack his stuff and moved out to a better prospect. I guess he didn't like noisy goodbyes. :(

RagnarTheDrunk
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RagnarTheDrunk

Dear Mo-
What happened to Jef?
Love,
Ragnar

Xijit
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Xijit

I think a bigger issue is how MMOs are such a moving target and any given patch can turn the game into an unbalanced mess that is hell to play, while the third patch after that fixes every issue.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

Besides the fact that MMOs are treated equally as other genre of games, I suspect late-stage reviews would not seen as credible by many gamers because the writer may have a strong bias for having played the game since it's initial launch. Case point Larry Everett's warm and fuzzy reintroduction of Star Wars:The Old Republic to a newbie. http://massivelyop.com/2016/02/02/hyperspace-beacon-how-to-approach-swtor-as-a-total-newbie/

I should point out it's not really a review, but it certainly functions like a late-stage review. I think if you're going do a credible late-stage review it's going have to come from an unbiased reviewer. Someone hasn't played the game since launch.

Francis courant
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Francis courant

woolydub I think LoL had generally favorable reviews at launch.

Xijit
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Xijit

Here is another question: what are the thoughts on having an annual Kickstarter / fundraiser?
I mean, there is no way I could put down as much as I did last Kickstarter, but I would be kinda fun to have another round of backer rewards like the daily grinds and backer pened articles ... All while setting up MOP with another lump of cash.
(yes, I do know about Patreon, but while I have no problem with dropping a lump here or there; I don't have the room to add in another trickle expense on top of thr other half dozen subs I currently carry.
... And to be completely honest: the patreon rewards are priced so high that it gives me no enticement to sign up.)

woolydub
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woolydub

Gaz was smart in taking a calculated risk with rebranding every year. I would have called shenanigans if they didn't do a 2016 re-brand after the MH2015 scores got them out of the review score sea of mediocrity, but they did and it's a great iteration. 

The proof is in the pudding that players don't go solely off of one and done review scores. People need look no further than LoL reviews when that game came out to know that.

I'd love to see a site that did yearly assessments to "games as services" games.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

Greaterdivinity A Dad Supreme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyLWrKh2fB0
Yeah forgot to add this.
Sure there is someone out there who still hasn't heard of the awesomeness of Archer yet.

Greaterdivinity
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Greaterdivinity

A Dad Supremecomment image

A Dad Supreme
Guest
A Dad Supreme

"...this one from longtime Massively OP community member Siphaed keeps floating to the top:"
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VISUALS BREE!!! 
VISUALS!!!

wpDiscuz