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Ask Massively: I hope you enjoyed your explosions edition

Eliot Lefebvre

For Americans, yesterday was July 4th, also known as the one time of the year when it is considered perfectly acceptable to detonate small explosives in your yard. Why is that how we celebrate the birthday of our nation? I don't know. I just know that explosions are pretty fun, and so I look forward to the annual detonation of cheap boxes filled with gunpowder and other chemicals, creating a visually pleasing shower of sparks and flames.

I'm also not clear on why we dress up like movie characters to celebrate the end of October, for the record.

Whether or not you enjoyed yesterday's round of explosions, it's time for this week's installment of Ask Massively, in which we tackle the big questions. Specifically, we tackle two big questions about the pace of major news releases and the boxed retail model for MMOs. If you've got a question you'd like to see answered in a future installment of the column, leave it in the comments below or mail it to Questions may be edited slightly for brevity and/or clarity.

Jejeune asked: Why do MMO companies always try to announce something right on the coattails of another major MMO event, especially when the games aren't in direct competition?

It's kind of our fault, honestly. When a big story happens, it tends to get spread around a fair bit, resulting in more attention to news sites such as Massively. (We've heard that there are other news sites out there, but that's not really our business.) And if little Mikey is already paying attention to Massively in the days leading up to The Secret World's launch, ArenaNet and Blizzard might find it in their interests to make big announcements at the same time so that little Mikey gets that stuck in his eye.

Usually, though, it's simply a matter of warring for conceptual space. Every bit of attention paid to one game is attention not paid to another game, and while some people do maintain multiple subscriptions, a majority just pick a game and stick with it for a while. Think of it as a very large and particularly interminable game of Monopoly. Even if stealing some money from player G won't weaken the lead of player A, it's still in your interest to take G down a notch or two. That's business.
Fienemannia asked: Is the boxed retail model going the way of the dodo for MMOs?
Probably, but not for at least another decade. Digital sales are growing, but as long as there are retail stores for games, a game with a pretty box on the shelf has a better chance to outsell the game without anything of the sort. The advantages to direct retail are shrinking quickly, and free-to-play games already cut down on the need for boxed sales, but we've still got a lot of media that are sticking around despite being supplanted. MMOs will probably be the first genre to abandon boxes altogether, though (not counting mobile titles, which never used 'em).
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. Just ask!

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