The Daily Grind: Should MMO studios outsource their communities?


If you played MMOs at the dawn of the genre, you'll recall that player forums were not considered a mandatory feature of a studio's infrastructure. Many communities resorted to wild, offensive, private forums in an attempt to avoid heavily moderated official boards that looked more like advertisements than conversations by the time the mods were done with them. (Anyone else remember Crossroads of Britannia? Good times.) Since then, MMO studios have figured out that forums (and their annoying cousins, social media) are highly useful tools for getting information to and feedback from their playerbases. But sometimes it's gone too far; we've criticized studios for posting updates only to social media outlets at the expense of their own native forums.

Well, move over, ArenaNet, because Hi-Rez has topped you: Earlier this week, Hi-Rez decided to shut down its games' official forums and move forum discussion and support to Reddit, which upset not only those people whose skin crawls at the idea of participating on Reddit but also Redditors themselves, who proposed (unsuccessfully) that Hi-Rez employees be banned, essentially, for mooching.

So what do you think -- should MMO studios outsource or crowdsource their forums, communities, and support to unofficial and potentially toxic private social media venues? Does it signal an industry shift, an insensitive budgetary decision from Hi-Rez, or a genuine desire to go where the perceived population density is highest?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!