Here's how I think this happens: Someone on a forum somewhere decides that his pet game needs more attention. I know, he says; let's deluge the media with email! In comes a flood of emails to our tip box, usually back to back, asking and demanding in turns for coverage of the game (or studio or cause or Kickstarter or concept or petition).
This is apparently what's been happening somewhere in the Pathfinder Online community in the last few weeks. The first email was cool. The third one looked suspicious. The 20th one had us tearing our hair out (or beards, in Shawn's case).
I'm pretty sure that the developers themselves aren't behind these grassroots email campaigns because while most of the letters are bland, a few are surprisingly rude. I've got a contrary streak a mile long, so the last reader I want to please is the one who first insults us and then makes entitled, imperious demands that we spend our limited editorial budget entertaining specifically him.
The funniest ones are those from people who are plainly not familiar with Massively as a publication; we're just one media outlet among the many they are mass-mailing. They haven't performed a cursory site search to see that we've been covering Pathfinder Online (to stick with that example) for over a year. Massively is loaded with sandbox and D&D fans, after all, so we've been over-covering the game.
I say "over-covering" because we've already given it a disproportionate chunk of attention for an indie game still in the early development stage. It successfully Kickstarted a tech demo earlier this year, and it's got a live Kickstarter to boost the rest of the game's development, so it's looking like a solid game that is extremely likely to launch, and we'll continue to run news articles when the game actually produces news and conduct interviews when the developers reveal something new and important to a general MMO audience. But in the meantime, you can't be expecting "in-depth articles" on a game that isn't playable and won't be for a long time. There's just not that much to write about. You probably wouldn't like the speculative pieces we'd do, anyway; most would be filled with concerns about the game's extreme ambition and ability to pull off some of the immersive sandbox features we're all hoping to see in the next generation of games.
The thing is, I know that the hardcore fans emailing us just want some publicity, any publicity to keep their pet game in the public eye. And I don't blame them one bit for that. They don't really care much what we say because they are following the game closely, reading the dev blogs before we do, and picking the developers' brains on the super sekrit Kickstarter forums already. Nothing we say will be news to them. They just want to make sure other people hear it.
But no magazine wants to feel like a cheap publicity platform. And no one responds well to annoyware, even when we want to support the cause. City of Heroes' various campaigns suffered from this same affliction; we received more email (and pageviews and comments) from the game's community in three months than we had in five years.
So yes, we've heard of your game. Don't mistake me; I'm not saying don't email us. We love getting tips and ideas for stories and links to games we genuinely haven't heard of. (Heck, a tipster totally broke the Asheron's Call 2 story last week.) But seriously, don't be a jerk in your email. At least pretend you read us and aren't just trying to use us to promote the underdog game or studio or campaign on which you've pinned all your hopes and dreams.
What should you play? Where is the MMO industry headed? How does Massively operate? Has Lord British lost his marbles? Why is there no edit button? Should "monoclegate" be hyphenated? Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce submits to your interrogations right here in Ask Massively every Thursday. Drop your questions in the comments below or ping us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just ask!