Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MMO Journalism

Rumour has it that AOL is planning to shut down Joystiq and related sites. This will probably hit two major sites dedicated to MMOs: WoW Insider, and Massively.

I will be sorry to see them go. I haven't always agreed with their perspectives, but they've always been interesting. They had a good handle on the "pulse" of their respective communities, and could be counted on to cover almost anything of interest that happened.

There is talk of some of the veterans of these two sites attempting to launch their own site dedicated to MMO journalism, perhaps funded by Kickstarter or subscriptions. I rather think that such a venture will probably end in failure. I mean, MMO gamers don't want to pay for the games they play. How much less likely are they going to want to pay for writing about those games?

They might be able to do something with advertising, but if AOL can't draw enough advertising to cover costs, I'm not sure that an independent site would be able to.

Still, I'll miss WoW Insider and Massively if they go. Best of luck to the current staff.


  1. That makes me wonder what traffic numbers for both have been. As MMOs are no longer quite so in vogue, I can imagine their numbers dropping.

    I know I've stopped using WoW Insider these past several years --I still read Massively, though-- and I know a lot of ex-WoW guildies hated that place as essentially a company shill.

  2. Both have undergone rather significant cuts lately. Insider basically has 4 writers compared to the dozens before. Class columns died 2 years ago.

    Massively took it on the chin last spring.

    That said, if they were sold as-is, to a media company, it may be a better result. Would be funny to have Polygon swallow them up considering what happened in the past.

  3. I stopped reading WoW Insider after I met Mike Schramm at Blizzcon one year. He was a huge jerk.

    The only sites I use now are Wowhead and MMO-Champion. Wowhead has actual articles and guides now, so I think they've been slowly pulling readers away from the other WoW journalism sites.

  4. That's too bad; I've used WoW Insider to keep up with WoW changes even when on a break from the game.

    I'd be surprised if a new site didn't succeed, though. I've worked for big companies and know how they burn their money. But a group of individuals who just want to run a couple blogs can do it on pocket change and bring in an order of magnitude more in advertising revenue than they spend.

  5. @Nicholas Bostaph, The only way I see that happening is if you don't count labour costs. If you actually want to pay the people running the site a full-time salary, then the costs rapidly become prohibitive.

    I think advertising would be able to cover technical and hosting costs, but like pretty much everything these days, labour is really expensive part.

  6. From what I've read the issue wasn't that joystiq was losing money. It was that joystiq wasn't making as much money as AOL wanted. That would lead me to believe that another entity could make it successful.