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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jauffins
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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
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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!