Ask Massively: Grand conspiracies

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Ask Massively: Grand conspiracies
The first and last COD screen you'll probably ever see on Massively
Earlier this week, Massively's Mike Foster penned a Soapbox editorial that argued against obsessing over the definition of MMO to the exclusion of debating good game design. If you liked it, awesome. If you hated it, then take heart; next week, Brendan Drain will be arguing the flip-side of Mike's article.

That's what our Soapbox is all about: writers talking about game-related things they're interested in or passionate about. It's a soapbox mounted by a different author every week, not a notarized declaration of the site's purpose and intent. We've intentionally collected a team with diverse opinions, and we rarely all agree on every opinion published on the site, especially the Soapbox, and that's the whole point. If we all agreed, we'd be boring. Plus I'd never get to waste an afternoon debating video games with Eliot in chat, which is tremendous fun, incidentally, and I highly recommend it.

This week in Ask Massively, I want to address the conspiracy theory proposed in the wake of that Soapbox as well as a few other bits and bobs from our comments.

blackcat7k wrote,
The issue here isn't the the term 'massively' or what constitutes it. It may just be the fact that the Massively staff knows that they're going to have to start covering console titles more often in order to stay relevant once X-Box One and PlayStation 4 hit the scene. You should just get it out of the way and slap everyone in the eye with it immediately to get the frothing rage out of the way.
I don't want to focus too much on why we cover what we cover because we've trod this territory many times already (how are you guys not over this topic yet?!), but I promise you, blackcat7k and the other folks who suggested similar conspiracies, your theory is simply not so. As Mike himself later posted (stunned and aghast, I think!), "This is an editorial written by me, one dude. It's not part of a nefarious plot to shift Massively's coverage to Battlefield and Call of Duty." We cover borderline MMOs because our parent site Joystiq wants us to, because we have the expertise for some of them, because a majority of readers like them, and sometimes just because we want to. We're not feeling the pressure of needing to cover non-MMO console games to stay relevant (I'd argue MMORPGs are doing pretty well right now all on their own, with AAA, big-budget themeparks and sandboxes on the way).

I do agree that sites could stand to be transparent about their purview, and that's precisely the intent of Ask Massively and those seven articles we've done in the last year on how we select games and content.

Avaera wrote,
I don't suppose AOL have the budget to offer some kind of freelancing fee to those who submit publish-worthy articles or essays on a particular topic? Maybe they could then appear on Massively under some open platform column, without blurring the lines between paid and unpaid work. On the other hand, maybe that's simply not going to be worth the trouble, who knows.
Some sites on our network used to offer one-off freelance contract work through AOL Seed, but my understanding is it closed down last year, and Massively did not have access to it anyway. So as it currently stands, we have no way to publish work for hire by non-staffers outside of our ring of repeat freelancers (and of course, we cannot publish unpaid work period). Honestly, I'd love to see the return of something similar to Seed, and if it ever becomes an option, the readers will be the first to know. We've had some good luck hiring our readers in the recent past!

This last one, from serial ear-pointer PavelKouznetsov, was a comment on the first entry in our most recent Lord of the Rings Online Choose My Adventure journey (it's over now; the new one starts next week!):
Game with graphic engine from 2007? Why is this in the poll even?
Because there no sense being a graphics snob in a genre this big -- you'll miss out on way too many great titles, some of them old and some of them just meant to look old. All kinds of games make it into the CMA poll, and for each writer, those games must be things he's willing to play and pay for. New games, old games, ugly games -- whatever the writer wants, and you get to vote on it and boss us. LotRO won this round, so it's clearly not a dead game in spite of those admittedly cringe-worthy character models, proving we should be judging on content and not just the timestamp on a graphics engine.

What should you play? Where is the MMO industry headed? How does Massively operate? Has Lord British lost his marbles? Why is the edit button on a timer? Should "monoclegate" be hyphenated? Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce submits to your interrogations right here in Ask Massively every other Thursday. Drop your questions in the comments below or ping us at Just ask!
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