In many ways, Massively Overpowered is a dream (side) job for us. We get to write about something we love and have it published for crowds of people to read. Every day is interesting, as you never know when a big surprise will pop out of the news feeds. Every day is filled with behind-the-scenes chatter with friends and engagement with our incredible community.
That said, it’s not always a non-stop party. Having been in the MMO industry for a decade now as a journalist, I repeatedly encounter annoying facets of this job that aren’t always apparent to those who visit us to read. In fact, we have many bizarrely specific pet peeves around the Massively OP office, and it’s time to clear the air and share those with you so that we can all get on with our lives.
Ever wonder what it’s like to write MMO news on a daily basis? This list might just warn you off… or intrigue you further.
1. MMO websites that post screenshots smaller than a postage stamp
This is now (checks) the year 2020. That means that we’re no longer in the Geocities era of the late 1990s; computers have large resolutions and websites have to resize to fit these screens. It makes no sense for some MMO studios to stick with fixed, tiny pictures in their posts. That will always get us grumbling because if a picture is smaller than 800 pixels wide, we can’t really use it for a news post unless we want to make readers think that they’ve got glaucoma.
2. Websites that make it impossible to find news
I know we’ve complained about MMO websites in the past, but seriously, some of them are so bad, guys. If you’re a writer trying to access the latest news or dev blog quickly because you have a huge pile of other stories to write, you don’t want to be playing a scavenger hunt with the site’s menus.
3. MMOs that tuck important news away in weird places
I don’t care where you put your news, MMO studios, as long as the main site and Twitter account has a link to it. But to tuck big announcements or important developer engagement deep in forums, on Reddit, or on your mother’s Pinterest board and nowhere else should give me a license to hunt you for sport. And I don’t have time to go hunting; I’ve got more news to write!
4. PR statements that randomly capitalize words
I would think that working public relations for a studio is a fairly cushy job, all things considered. Since communication is a major part of what these people do, you’d assume that they are good at writing.
They are not. Hoo boy, they are so not.
Oh, some are, but many have fallen prone to this odd PR disease of Randomly Capitalizing various words in their releases as if that confers proper noun status to ordinary things, such as the words “class” or “subscriber” or “event.” I’ve spent about 2% of my life so far un-capitalizing words to bring balance to the Force once more.
5. PR statements that sound like they were originally written in Martian
I’m not done picking on PR people yet. I could mention the ones that send releases in impossible-to-copy-and-paste PDF, but much more endemic are the folks who send us paragraphs of words that are not ordered in any way as to be comprehensible. Sure, this is usually due to translations and English not being the writer’s first language, but sometimes it’s so bad that you have no idea what they’re actually trying to say. I can only correct PR announcements so much before I’m doing the full job of that department.
6. Studios that wait until end-of-business on Fridays to release negative announcements (or positive ones, for that matter)
When a studio — I’ll pull a random one out of a hat, say, um, Daybreak — knows that it absolutely must release some bad news, one common tactic that it can employ is to wait until the very last moment on Friday afternoon to do so in the hopes that media (a) won’t pick it up at all or (b) will bury it under all of the news that comes out over the weekend. It should go without saying that we do not truck with such tactics here at Massively OP.
7. Seeing studios fail to learn from history
Hey, maybe this time your hardcore PvP gankbox with a mandatory subscription is going to be a massive hit! And why not roll out genderlocked classes, since your eastern studio has done so much homework on what western players expect! Might as well come out with effusive praise for lockbox gambling while you’re at it!
We’ll just be over here beating our heads on our keyboards and wishing that devs would read our backlog of posts about the other million times such approaches didn’t work.
8. Studios and developers that get gross
Let me say that there are actually lots of really great, sincere, and upstanding developers in the industry. But there are bad eggs too, and it’s always very uncomfortable when we have to report on the gross behavior or decisions that come out of studios or from specific devs. Covering oppressive work environments, lolita-style races, or devs that turn their game into a fraudulent endeavor bring us no joy here in the office. It’s kind of why we had to invent a specific category for super-gross stuff.
9. Spin-heavy press releases
It’s part of the job that we dig through a lot of press releases. Like, a lot a lot. The good ones are informative, to the point, and offer assets for us to repackage into useful posts for our readers. The bad ones tend to lean heavy on spin to attempt to manipulate the media into being a wing of their publicity department by focusing on the good news instead of the full picture.
We have to approach each PR statement with a critical eye, looking for the real story instead of the one that the studio really wishes that we would say. If subs and profits are down, a studio might spin that player engagement is up in the first paragraph and bury the bad stuff in the third or fourth paragraph. Extracting the truth from the spin is a necessary if annoying part of what we do.
10. Diving into super-long rants and videos
Before I go into this last item, I really want to emphasize that covering MMO games is, by and large, a fun and engaging activity. We all love what we do, and this list shouldn’t make you think that we sit here moaning and complaining over a million pet peeves. These are usually the exceptions rather than the commonplace rules.
That said, there’s just about none of us on staff that leaps out of our chairs with joy when we pull up a news story that ends up being a 10,000-word treatise or a two hour-long video that must be consumed in full before we can get to writing the post. Ninety-five percent of the time, the key information for a news post could have been relayed in a paragraph or two and saved us all a lot of time. After all, there are always more news to be written; we can’t spend hours on your stream-of-consciousness ramblings.