Ask Massively: A world without boats edition

This is an allegory.  Maybe.
As you probably have already ignored, the big news of the day is that the world's boats have all been lost due to mysterious boat-related circumstances. Unfortunately, as human beings are extremely stupid and easily thwarted, no one can remember how to build a boat, nor did anyone take any notes on how one might build a boat. There aren't even pieces of information about how boats work. Long story short, Australia is now completely on its own.

In less boat-related news, it's time for this week's installment of Ask Massively. Written while not on a boat, it's fielding questions about the ubiquity of social networking and Collector's Editions that cost nearly as much as a boat. If you've got a question you'd like to see answered in a future installment of the column, mail it to or leave it in the comments below. Questions may be edited slightly for clarity and/or brevity.

Maraq asked: Why should I need a Facebook or other social networking account to view game info when there is already a perfectly legitimate and official website?
Because networking does good things for the community of the game.

One of the consistent issues faced with managing an MMO community is the simple fact that a large percentage of that community really doesn't want to bother with any communication medium out of the game. It's a known fact that official forums represent not the majority of a game's playerbase but a very vocal minority. If you want to get a feel for the community as a whole, you need means beyond just forums to do so.

From a community manager's standpoint, social networking is wonderful for this. You aren't asking anyone to create a new account, since odds are good that the people in question already have those accounts. As such, it allows for a player who's already on Facebook to pop over, interact with the community, and become more invested in the game without the usual strain of getting someone into a forum culture. Plus, it costs nothing to get these pages set up, so it's a good return on little investment.

This isn't to say that there are no downsides. Some people don't like using social networking for various reasons, which makes the benefits seem much thinner. But for the people running the community, it's a net upside, so it's become popular.
Scratches asked: Another $150 Collector's Edition? Ugh. Is it too much to ask for a box that doesn't come with a figurine these days?
Apparently so. The increasing number of gumballs have made Collector's Editions more desirable, but as a result the prices have kept going up. This in turn leads to more items being produced for said collector's edition, and so on in a vicious cycle. Said cycle includes an awful lot of desktop clutter, which is a shame, as my desk is already sufficiently cluttered with Transformers.

Most games push for the middle ground with a digital deluxe edition, which has in-game gumballs but no physical objects, thereby saving on manufacturing and shipping costs, so the company still wins.
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Also boats!
This article was originally published on Massively.