Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

6 June, 2013

The other online community: where did MMO bloggers go?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:37 PM

I’ve written a lot about the importance of in-game community lately. But, allow me to write a bit about the type of community that isn’t in a game or owned by a particular company. Maybe we can get draw some lessons that might come back around to game design.

So, let’s talk about blogging, and the community around that. As the title asks: where did the bloggers go?

Okay, I went with a bit of a clickbait title. MMO bloggers are still around, I have a few hundred blogs in my reader (currently favoring although it’s still going through the growing pains of still being in development.) Some bloggers even post more than once every few weeks like some people around here do. But, it feels like there are less MMO bloggers these days.

Not the only one

I’m not the only one who thought about this. Chris Bateman wrote a blog post with an even more clickbait title, The Extinction of Blogs. In the post he talks about his observation about blogs having faded. Chris focuses a lot on the role social media has played, how it has taken the emphasis off of blogs. As an extra irony, I was clued in to this discussion on Twitter.

There have been a number of interesting responses:

Many of them covered why they went into blogging, and why they think blogging is not so strong anymore. I won’t go into all the arguments, but the consensus seems to be that yes, blogging is not as dominant as it used to be and, yes, social media is part of the reason. But, I’ll also note that most of them see some benefit to blogs over social media; perhaps not surprising given they posted about this on their blogs.

Why blog?

If you take a look at my archives, you’ll see that I started blogging back in November of 2004. At first I made it a bit of a personal journal, writing about stuff that interested me. But, eventually I just focused on game design topics. I’m an introvert and I don’t really enjoy opening up to strangers about my personal life, but I found it appealing to talk about my game design philosophies, particularly about MMO development which was reaching its peak around the time I started blogging. It felt like a natural extension of what I was already doing: participating on forums and answering game design questions that other developers wouldn’t (or couldn’t) answer. Owning my own game game me a lot more freedom. But, I noticed that I tended to repeat myself a lot. Blogging was a way to collect my thoughts into one location.

Why don’t I switch over to social media these days, given that Twitter and Google+ are so dominant? I want a persistent record of my thoughts. I want to see how my thoughts have changed over time, and to note the things that haven’t changed. The problem with social media is that it’s too ephemeral. Want to read why I thought indie development is important over 7.5 years ago? You can! Yet, I have trouble finding the tweets or Google+ posts I made a few months ago.

So, blogging works for me and I won’t be giving it up anytime soon, even if I could stand to post a little more often.

Why blogging faded

So, why are there less blogs now than there were before? Beyond social media stealing our thunder, I think there are a few other reasons. I’ll focus specifically on the MMO bloggers, since that’s the community I know best.

Developers stopped blogging

I think this is the biggest reason. MMO developers lead the charge back in the day. We knew all about these online communities, and we knew how to reach them. Blogging was an easy way to run a Lum the Mad type site without having to write your own custom software like he did.

Just as blogs replaced the forums, social media is now the medium of choice. Now, if you want to know about a game you go to the carefully curated social media profile written by a PR person. MMO companies also manage to avoid any “Shut up and give me my ten bucks per month, little man. My Porsche needs some performance upgrades.” situations this way.

Finally, MMO development takes a lot of time and effort. Launching a game demands a lot of attention, and it’s easy to let things like sleeping in your own bed or writing regular posts on your blog fall by the wayside. I think a lot of blog readers tended to go to developer blogs for more “insider” type access. But, if the developers stop blogging, that reduces the motivation to visit blogs.

So, why did developers just stop writing blogs?

Blogging is a lot of work

Writing a blog post takes a lot of time. I try to post thoughtful stuff, not just vomit words into an input box. (You, there, stop laughing!) I know a lot of people put a lot more effort into their posts than I do. I’m lucky in that I wrote a lot of papers in university, so I often get away with posting a lightly edited first draft. I also touch type well, so I can bang out my masterpieces relatively quickly.

I still like to sit on my posts before pushing them out to make sure I didn’t go totally insane when writing. And, often, I’ll edit down my posts as I tend to be wordy. But, even now you see why a single post on here tends to take up a few hours of my time, whereas I can whip off a Tweet in a few minutes at most. And, this is for every post, so posting regularly takes a lot of time.

I think this is a larger issue for other MMO bloggers as well. As The Ancient Gaming Noob reports, only about 27% of blogs survived after being encouraged by a bunch of bloggers to start blogs. Kind of sad, as I really enjoyed a few of those blogs.

But, it’s not just newbies that drop out.

Influential voices disappear

One thing you might notice as you go read old posts on this blog, particularly the comments: a lot of links go to dead sites. A lot. Even eyeing my blogroll over to the right side, I’m surprised how many sites just don’t exist or haven’t updated for several months. Some people fade away. Some give tearful goodbyes and move on. Some stop in their prime for no obvious reason, as with some of those new blogs TAGN reported on.

Given that social media is taking over, and tools like Google Reader are going away, it’s probably easier for people just stop reading blogs that go offline rather than hunt for new ones.

But, why are people not blogging as much?

MMOs are no longer the new hotness

As I said, there are still a lot of bloggers out there. I read a lot and try to participate when I can. But, MMOs lost their “new shiny” crown to “social” games some years ago. Even now social games are are losing their crown to mobile and tablet games, so MMOs are old news twice over.

It’s something that MMO developers have noticed. Damion Schubert (who has neglected his own blog for a long time), once said at GDC that “MMO developers used to be a posse!” It’s true, we were a pretty tight group of people, but since then developers went on to other things. As I’ve lamented before, investors just aren’t interested in MMOs anymore, seeing the apparent failure of MMOs as being a sign they’re not worth investing in anymore. It’s hard to be an MMO dev these days, as your options are limited. Few companies are doing anything truly groundbreaking anymore.

So, we have all these reasons why MMO bloggers aren’t so strong anymore. Let’s think about what can change.

How to save blogs

Chris Bateman might have posted the first blog post, but he isn’t a fatalist. he wrote a followup post about Prototypes for Blog Revival, where he talks about using social media to bring the focus back to blogging.

I think there are a few other things we, as bloggers and blog readers, can do.

Have existing bloggers help newbies

So, what spurred those blogs to start up that TAGN mentioned in that link above? MMO blogger Syp over at Bio Break starting the Newbie Blogger Initiative. He encouraged readers to start their own blogs, and encouraged existing bloggers to post advice. Here was my advice. Note that this was also a clever way to get existing bloggers to post and link to them from a central location.

This is kind of like a highly focused Blogs of the Round Table (BoRT) that Chris mentioned in his post. Maybe have this type of thing on an annual basis to encourage new blood.

Improve discoverability

“Discoverability” is one of those words from mobile games. It’s the age-old problem: you made something cool, now how do you get other people to appreciate it? While I would probably keep writing blogs if nobody bothered to read them, I think that this is not the case for a lot of other people. You post a few blog posts and nobody shows up, and there goes your enthusiasm.

In the bad old days of blogging we had blogrolls, but with RSS readers people don’t always go visit a site. Keeping the blogrolls updated is tough given that blogs might come and go quickly. Some people really like the type of blogroll that pulls from RSS feeds that Blogger can feature. It might be interesting to find (or write) a WordPress plugin for that, and maybe have it occasionally post the more active feeds to the RSS feed in a sort of, “If you like this blog, you might also be interested in…”

Focus on community

My use of that word might not surprise you. I think blogs really miss out on discussion compared to social media. It used to be when you visited a site manually you might see nwe comments on a discussion. With RSS feeds, I know that I usually only visit a comments list once, maybe a few other times if I want to watch for replies to my own comments or if the discussion was really promising. I watch the comments on this blog a lot, because for me they’re the best part, but I think the discussion aspects of social media are stronger than blogs.

Especially on a blog with frequent updates, comments seem even more ephemeral than tweets. It’s not unusual for a comment to feel ignored, even on a popular blog. I think the conversational aspect is what makes a blog feel like more than just a place to read posts and drop a comment. Bring back the conversation, and you bring back a focus on community.

And, it’d be nice to get more of a focus on the community between bloggers. As Chris says when talking about the BoRT, having the drop-down box that linked to all the participants was a great way to link bloggers together. And, it helped discoverability, too.

This is an ongoing conversation

I think blogs have some serious benefits over social media. Not that I think anyone is going to forsake Twitter or Google+ to go back to just reading blogs, but I think we can do so much more. It might be time to really look at how we present blogs.

What do you think? What do you like about blogs? What would make blogs better?

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  1. “just vomit words into an input box”

    That is clearly not the end from which my own posts emerge from.

    I have to chew on this a bit, but I like Chris Bateman’s use of the term “blog clusters.” I have been thinking about that very concept for a long while, as we used to seem to develop mutual bridges that formed into small islands of interlinked blogs in the blogesphere. There used to be a clear group of them into which I felt I fit. We would poke at each other and link back and forth in posts regularly, feeding off each others ideas.

    I am not sure where my little cluster went. I went looking for it one day and it seemed to be gone. Well, I offended some and they stopped linking me and took me off their blog roll. But others just faded away and stopped posting, or stopped posting regularly, or stopped posting about games I was interested in. It was easier when we all played WoW or something.

    I still think making a point of linking out to other blogs whenever you can is a good start. Take that long winded comment on somebody’s blog and turn it into a post that points to their blog instead.

    Comment by Wilhelm Arcturus — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:02 PM

  2. I might suggest another tangential factor, related to the fact that blogging takes time (on *top* of gaming, at that). It’s been what, almost a decade that MMOs have been “mainstream”? In that time, teenagers or young adults who were awash in spare time to burn have since grown up (or at least aged), and priorities change over time, especially in those years when dating, marriage, childrearing, college and careers start being relevant. It certainly affected me, though I’m on the periphery of a lot of the social circles that MMOs have been most relevant to.

    For me, it’s also a tech thing; my computer isn’t bleeding edge any more, and as MMOs ratchet their tech, I literally can’t play some games without my machine flat out crashing. Maybe once I get a new computer, that’ll be alleviated… but then there’s still the free time factor.

    I’ve also moved on to trying to be more productive with my spare time. As in, I need to earn more money because the economy is torqued, so instead of just screwing around in the evenings once the kids go to bed, I work on freelance stuff. There’s not a lack of will to play games and blog about them, there’s a lack of time.

    Comment by Tesh — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:05 PM

  3. Fricken casual communicators, man, with their 140 characters! I’m being silly, but I think it’s kind of the same thing. Blogging takes time and effort, and just auto-posting Raptr updates to Twitter is easy (and, in my opinion, fairly useless). Unfortunately a lot of the

    I started my first blog in 1999 back when there were about 50 similar sites and we all fought constantly over whether “blog” or “weblog” was the correct term. I too have seen the genre become less popular in the last few years, but I think those of us who compulsively communicate in long form will keep going.

    I would like to see blog communities.. aggregate a little more I guess. I had an idea a while back to gather featured articles from my favorite 10 or 20 MMO blogs into a central “news” site, and although nothing came of it I think a sort of homepage for blog communities (along with newbie drives) would help.

    Comment by Liore — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:10 PM

  4. I think there is hope that a merge of Blogger into Google+ (and hopefully it will leave the bloggers a lot more option than communities do right now) could rejuvenate blogging.
    But right now I am a bit worried, the current emphasis of Google+ looks and feels like a Pinterest copy with an awful focus on images at the expense of words/discussion. Not the right way to go, IMO.

    MMOs are indeed not the new hotness anymore. MOBAs are if I am not mistaken! I also think the way supposed MMO saviors work there is little to blog about them. Think of Guild Wars 2. The weekly comment about the latest stuff in the item shop? Group play has reached a level of anonymity and near zero communication that I really dare to ask, how can this spawn a blog post?

    There are many new MMOs, but people are hopping tourist style from MMO to MMO, there are really blog posts about 5 minute impressions about a MMO, that’s just odd. But none could create a community and mass phenomenon like WoW did.

    After many brilliant and not so brilliant discussions about games and game design and visions about future MMOs voiced on blogs, I find this state of affairs quite disappointing. SWTOR is still played by millions, yet important quality blogs went down quickly.

    The rise of social media and the fail of contemporary MMOs are to blame. Veteran bloggers might also feel tired to blog about the same topics over and over.

    Comment by Longasc — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:13 PM

  5. Oh, look, it is my blog cluster showing up in the comments. I think I linked out to the both of those two above in the last week. I am sure it means something that we are all here.

    Comment by Wilhelm Arcturus — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:16 PM

  6. *chuckle*
    I put Longasc in my mental niche of “MMO community”. He’s sort of always been there. I think there are still a bunch of us out here, we’re just a little burned out and busy.

    Comment by Tesh — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:20 PM

  7. @Tesh – But he’s not a blogger. Plus he totally lost all respect for me at some past date.

    Comment by Wilhelm Arcturus — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:33 PM

  8. That is a tangential thought… to what extent is the comment thread a key to this blogging thing? I tend to think it’s important, and those who “merely” comment are part of the ecosystem. Especially as some comments are blog-post sized anyway.

    Comment by Tesh — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:36 PM

  9. Tesh wrote:
    That is a tangential thought… to what extent is the comment thread a key to this blogging thing?

    As I’ve said before, comments are the best part of this blog for me. I think they’re an important part, and I agree that commenters are just as much a part of the community as blog writers.

    Comment by Psychochild — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:41 PM

  10. I’ve also seen a lot of people who started out focused on MMOs branch out to other game types as well. At least in the circles I’m in, no one really sticks with one game, or even one genre, anymore.

    Comment by Scopique — 6 June, 2013 @ 3:41 PM

  11. When I bought my first PC in 1997 it was for two specific reasons: 1) to write my novel and 2) to have my own website. I’d played computer games since the late 1970s but I hadn’t had a gaming machine of any kind for about five years and I thought I had better ways to spend my time than playing games so when I had a year off and a year’s salary in the bank (yay voluntary redundancy!) I went for what I thouhgt of as a grown-up computer.

    Not playing games on it lasted about six months, during which time I realised that while I might be a lifetime writer I was never going to be a novelist. On the positive side, I taught myself enough HTML (all now forgotten) to create a website based around my favorite band that didn’t already have one. I ran it for quite a while to some degree of success but eventually I ended up playing Everquest and that was pretty much the end of that.

    I went on visiting other people’s websites, though. The ones that were useful for EQ, like Caster’s Realm and Allakhazam and the myriad of Home Pages on GeoCities and the like. It would have been well into the 2000s before I even heard of blogging and probably less than five years ago that I read my first blog (it was probably Spouse Agro at a guess). Now I have some 50 blogs in my Feedly feed and a couple of years of writing my own under my belt.

    What’s the point of all this reminiscence? You may well ask! I think I am getting round to suggesting that what we call these things isn’t really all that important. To me, in this context, “websites”, “home pages” and “blogs” are much the same. They are relatively long-form, public online spaces for self-expression and/or reflection. Social media is a different thing.

    In a few years we might not have things called “Blogs” but I would bet we will have some platform or format where individuals can present essays and commentary in a few hundred (or thousand) word chunks for the interest or otherwise of their perceived peer group. Facebook, Twitter, G+ and the rest may augment the flow but it won’t replace it.

    As for the supposed slowing of the flow, I quite literally can’t find the time to read and comment on anything like half the blogs I’d like to. There seem to be new ones popping up all the time, too.

    Comment by bhagpuss — 6 June, 2013 @ 4:01 PM

  12. I don’t know that it’s as much “MMOs have become the Old & Busted, casual/mobile games are the New Hotness,” because… are there any casual/mobile blogs? I mean… “real” blogs not some tech site that has a casual/mobile sub-version.

    For me, I’m a perfectionist, therefore it takes me hours to write a single blog post. That huge-antic Neverwinter post I did a couple months that was better and more comprehensive than any of the “Pro” sites (ack! call the doc, I just sprained my shoulder patting myself on the back) took me six hours to write and proofread before I clicked Publish. Then I still found a couple typos I had to fix later. All that for… what? Two comments?

    On the one hand, yes I love having a more permanent portfolio of my writings, rantings, and it’s a great way to look back to see what my mindset was a year, two years, five years ago and examine how or if that mindset has changed with time. On the other hand, community kinda requires more than just me talking to myself, and it ends up being a lot of work for no psychological payoff when I could take 5 minutes or less on Google+ to write something far less comprehensive but end up with pages of comments and several intertwining, tangential conversational threads.

    Comment by Talyn — 6 June, 2013 @ 5:10 PM

  13. Personally, I only have two blogs in my list of “must read”; this blog is one. The other is by Shamus Young. (Give him a checking out, because he’s also very insightful sometimes . . .)

    Comment by Kereminde — 7 June, 2013 @ 1:02 AM

  14. As I said over Twitter, I’m still amazed you can get over a dozen comments back in under 24 hours on your blog! It may not be as vibrant as it was in the blogging heyday, but the MMO community is weathering this drought better than most blog clusters.

    Thanks so much for sharing your perspective here – and also for reassuring me that it is still possible to sustain a blog cluster. I suspect the secret is focus – as my thoughts spiralled out into ever-more-disparate directions, I lost the game community I once had. I still get read, but I am no longer a locus of community, and that saddens me. But it lifts my spirits to know that out there in the hinterlands of the internet, there are still blog clusters that can produce a discussion overnight on a topic. There is hope.

    With unlimited love,


    Comment by Chris Bateman — 7 June, 2013 @ 2:16 AM

  15. It’s because we’re not excited about it anymore.

    Not like we were.

    I remember how excited Megan was and how excited I was back when I was reading Out Of Mana.

    The narrative is different now. And the only people still here to write or read about it are people that use words like ‘narrative’. To describe games where you hit goblins until a magic hat falls out of them. So you can put it on your magic soldier.

    The innocence is gone.

    Comment by Electrolux — 7 June, 2013 @ 5:23 AM

  16. I know I belong to the small group inside the niche that still actually ‘believes’ in blogging; I’m a person who reads a lot, thinks a lot, then goes and spends lots of time on my own posts. bloggers are still the important, independent voices for me out there – which is also why I don’t read more generic ‘news blogs’ or guide blogs. blogs are about individual voices for me an criticism.
    I agree the blogosphere I inhabit has become smaller, but in some ways I feel it’s better too. MMO blogs were very game-centric around WoW’s heyday. we saw a big boom of MMO blogs that in truth were mostly WoW blogs and many of those have faded away since WotLK. I’m now left with more people who are gamers like myself, talking about a wider spectrum and drawing on their lifetime experience of gaming. I like that – but then, I like my meta design discussions. :)
    I also think discussion IS highly important and I value all comments I get a great deal. it’s why I try to answer each and every of my commenters which I think is something one should aspire to do on a blog. I know it takes time, but for me it’s more important than writing a post a day. I cultivated a readership that knows coming to my blog and leaving me a reply is most likely going to open up a discussion with myself but also others.

    oh and MY blogroll is always updated. ^^

    Comment by Syl — 7 June, 2013 @ 2:47 PM

  17. I only recently came back and I’ve been noticing that there aren’t a lot of general MMO blogs anymore, but I’m finding that with many topics I’m interested in. However, the WoW blogging community still seems to be flourishing. I think blogging has been greatly “taken over” by mommy blogs, fitness blogs, diet/recipe blogs, and ‘lifestyle’ blogs nowadays. Blogging is still HUGE though, and there are so many people who make a living by running their own blog.

    Anyway, I’m mostly blogging about WoW nowadays but I’d love some more readers/commenters over on my new blog. :)

    Comment by Cuppy — 7 June, 2013 @ 3:31 PM

  18. As a (former) blogger of sorts, for me the biggest challenges is/was just finding time. As you stated, blogging encourages/demands more than a moment of thought, to do it “right”. A post needs some meat to it to be worthy of posting… it’s an newsmagazine article, not a headline on a search engine… and that takes time to create. Even comments require more effort than the typical twitter exchange. Finding that time, and the appropriate inspiration to match, can be a definite challenge, and I definitely salute those who continue to do so.

    Comment by DamianoV — 9 June, 2013 @ 9:29 AM

  19. Gaming blogging is a meta-game, in itself. Discussion about game X, genre Y, or the whole industry. Just as many millions have burned out on this or that game through thousands of hours of play, people burn out of blogging – both the writing and reading/commenting portions. Some players reinvent themselves in a new game, some bloggers reinvent themselves by blogging on a new game, or other new topic. Many do not.

    Many a blog is linked to a game or genre. As the writer burns out on the specific game (or genre), they will write less, write with less value (generally repetition of previous material), or stop altogether. Repetition tends to burn out readers/commenters, which is a feedback loop – for your average human less response to writing, less desire to continue to write. Exeunt stage left.

    From the industry side, the stereotype is the grinding down of all enthusiasm of the writer/programmer/developer/artist/etc. Working on the typical game is supposedly soul destroying. As they sour from their day job, it can taint the moonlighting.

    The age factor mentioned above is also a fair point. High School and College students tend to have large quantities of free time compared to those in career work and/or with progeny. Cut back free time by 2/3, add additional possible choices for that free time (such as spending it with family, or job networking) and suddenly games, much less blogs, can re-prioritize themselves right off the map.

    Additionally, state-of-the-art in games is quite slow. As has been noted, far too many games focus on flash graphics – that doesn’t lead to many compelling blog discussions (other than the “it’s game X with prettier graphics” ones, which become less than compelling due to how common they are). A new mechanic here, a clever twist on an old mechanic there – a few new blog posts. Then we return to a silence/hiatus, or navel-gazing.

    Any of the above can easily feed into habit. Do something regularly, it becomes a habit, it becomes ingrained or self-reminding to do it. Whatever ‘it’ might be – in this case writing/reading blogs. Fail to do something, and you find you do it less and less. The less you write/read/comment, the easier it is to write/read/comment even less. Eventually you jump off the asymptote to the zero line.

    I think one of the best elements of this blog is that you, Brian, don’t feel the need to fill dead air. If weeks pass without anything, fine, silence rather than meaningless filler. But when you have something you find interesting, we get a post to read. You’re the skinner box of blogs – check regularly and on random occasions we’re rewarded!

    Comment by Sutekh — 10 June, 2013 @ 7:05 AM

  20. Infertile Ground

    [...] Thursday of last week Psychochild posted on his blog an interesting article, musing where did the MMO Bloggers go?  My immediate [...]

    Pingback by Tales of the Aggronaut — 10 June, 2013 @ 8:21 AM

  21. I started off writing a forum post in notepad… and it just grew too big and kinda gained a life of its own. I posted my thoughts regarding this topic over on my own blog since it grew to slightly over 11 paragraphs….

    Basically the synopsis is… I think MMO Bloggers have just be experiencing a changing of the guard of sorts… and those of us out here in the non-game-specific space have done a bad job of nurturing that community. Newbie Blogger Initiative was an amazing step forward, but we still lack a central home for bloggers in the same way that Blog Azeroth is for World of Warcraft bloggers.

    Comment by belghast — 10 June, 2013 @ 8:24 AM

  22. I have not read through all the comments here, so excuse me if this has been said already. I think the lack of blogs comes from a change in medium. Much like newspapers, I think blogs are viewed as mostly a dying form. I started a MMO blog back in October, updating regularly. I soon began experimenting with YouTube and quickly switched over to spending most of my time there, only blogging sporadically. Finding video editing to be incredibly time consuming, I am now splitting my time and trying to blog more. I think MMO-centric blogs, YouTube’s, etc, are slowing down as the genre loses the massive popularity it gained back in the early 2000′s.
    Long story short, I believe blogs are perhaps just changing with the times. And as the genre grows older, the big names who started blogging are growing older as well, starting families, and no longer have time to dedicate. Hopefully we can all find a way to foster new blood into the MMO-blogging sphere.
    PS – Meridian 59 was my second MMO(after the Realm), and I am glad to have discovered this blog, which I never knew existed until today. Thank you for helping shape my early adulthood and making the MMO my genre of choice. I have done an article and a video related to Meridian 59, and both have been some of my favorites. Thanks again.

    Comment by TheHiveLeader — 10 June, 2013 @ 10:36 AM

  23. In my own case, I attribute it to two factors. First, I have less time and mental energy due to an increased work load. Second though is the games themselves. I’ve been playing, but less passionately, and fewer new games. Even with my nostalgia and retroactive analysis habits I can only talk about many-year-old games so often.

    A downward cycle feeds on itself. So much of what I get is from other bloggers. Maybe I’m giving my opinion on a topic they brought up. Maybe I need to criticize them. But if I read and write less, then someone else has less, and so on until everything is dead and ruined. All because of me missing a post.

    Comment by Klepsacovic — 11 June, 2013 @ 7:49 AM

  24. Brian -

    Congratulations on sticking with it!

    As a pretty serious game industry blogger from 2005 to 2011 (over 2500 posts), I felt that there was nothing more to say and that no one was listening to any of us, except, perhaps, each other.

    You’ve put out a ton of great material, yet game design has largely gone backwards. Eve Online seems to be the pinnacle of real a real player-run world, but no one has learned, gone past them, or even really followed suit.

    MOBAs like League of Legends have innovated in online sports, in some sense, Minecraft looks like a fluke as does Angry Birds. There are smart games, but they are all indies who haven’t learned from their predecessors that the last thing you want to do is get bought by a big game publisher.

    We’ve gone from Ashe Chung to Bitcoins – is that progress?

    The business seems to be about greed, not building great products or services.

    No one is building tools for the game industry, because every programmer and company thinks he can do better, not realizing that while what you build may be “perfect”, you are going to chew up your time building tools and not your game.

    Free-to-play could have been about lowering barriers to entry and opening up gaming, but it has become the code word for cynical “gameification” to everyone’s shame.

    The contempt with which game companies hold their customers is simply disgusting.

    Blogs have long been the only place where there has been serious discussions about games and the game industry, but people and companies are sharing less and less information making it harder and harder for anyone to learn and do better.

    There still is huge potential for the game industry, but it is going to require a real culture shift to move forward, and I’m sure you’ll be there Brian.

    Comment by Steven Davis — 11 June, 2013 @ 8:43 PM

  25. I’m 5 years in but two long breaks in those 5 years. Oddly enough, I found I wrote more when I wasn’t gaming much. My hard to come by free time used for gaming first and foremost when I could! I suppose that has to do with wives and kids (ie: priorities).

    Other times, I found that things I were writing were either already heavily agreed upon (so I was just following the masses) or I had nothing exciting or new to add to the discussion (where is the ‘like’ button? Oh, they have added them now!) or, finally, that I was playing games no one cared to read or think about – at least, not in my “cluster” (love that blogging terminology).

    Now, its spit out a post when I feel like it if something pokes me or my interest, which may or may not be interesting to anyone at all. But, I agree – I love going back and reading old posts and remembering what was going on at the time and how I looked at it. That part is still fun.

    I enjoy the reading and the connections. I have a lot of respect for the people I read and enjoy the banter and open disagreements that are (usually) shared thoughtfully and critically. The debate is fun.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Isey — 14 June, 2013 @ 7:58 AM

  26. Gold is Where You Find It – Blogging and Community

    [...] asked where the bloggers have gone. (A good posts that links to some other good posts on the subject.) Certainly in our little corner [...]

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  27. Happy 7th Birthday MmoQuests

    [...] There are so many posts these days about ‘blogging and community‘ and ‘where did the MMO bloggers go‘ – well, this one is still right here. Still doing the same posts I’ve done for [...]

    Pingback by — 9 July, 2013 @ 4:15 PM

  28. Ancillary conversation booster

    [...] the conversation spread from blog to blog.  I particularly enjoyed Hardcore Casual‘s and Psychochild‘s takes on the subject.  But as the conversation has spread, it has mutated like a [...]

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  29. Retro Servers and A Light at the End of the Tunnel

    [...] Some folks are talking about how MMORPG blogging is dying. While there are indisputably more platforms these days on which to spread your word, and many of the old blogging folks have migrated at least some of their material to those platforms, the problem isn’t that blogging is dying. Blogs, in fact, are as popular as ever. The issue in our little corner of the internet is that MMORPGs are dying. [...]

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  30. The Next Generation is Better than the Original

    [...] Blogs are dying. PCs are dying. The next generation is functionally illiterate. [...]

    Pingback by In An Age — 19 July, 2013 @ 4:05 AM

  31. I’ve noticed this trend as well. I am not sure why less people are blogging about MMO games or MMO related content. Maybe they didn’t see much follow up or interest?
    Or maybe they just get too distracted playing mmo games instead :)

    Comment by mmoraven — 4 August, 2013 @ 6:06 AM

  32. I have long posted articles and contributed in forums for all of the miriad games I’ved played over the last two decades. Its only recently that I felt to elevate myself from the temporary nature of these threads by creating a lasting locale for my thoughts. You mention that one advantage of Blogs is their longevity compared to the temporary nature of “tweets” and I cannot deny that seems the truth of matters as they stand.

    Oddly enough I’ve followed blogs for a long time, finding them an excellent resource in my WoW gaming days to find specific class theorycrafting that larger hubs couldn’t provide. In fact the discussion between blogs was largely more useful then the cross-talking circular-logic nonsense that usually went on within a “forum”. What struck me as funny is having followed those blogs for a long time, it strikes me as unhealthy that these same blogs are the same ones every site seems to link.

    What I mean to say is… wheres the new blood? I find myself struggling to locate new bloggers to follow. I recently dived into Blogging hardcore with the introduction of Guild Wars 2 and EverQuest Next over at Yet I feel like I’m the only new talent on the block in regards to MMO Blogs.

    Not sure if thats how the state of things should be at this point.

    I am attempting a few experiments by implementing direct social media into the site, but honestly content and having established bloggers point towards newer bloggers work seems the best method. How many requests do veteran (and I see a few commentors who would qualify) bloggers get from newbies like myself asking you to add us to your blog rolls? If its a lot, and your not adding them, then aren’t you the problem? If you are answering and no ones asking … then maybe your right and a breed of bloggers is the first and last generation of such types of people.

    Comment by Craig 'Scree' Schupp — 20 August, 2013 @ 11:06 AM

  33. The declining state of the MMORPG blogosphere reflects the declining state of the MMORPG genre.

    I agree with Steven Davis. MMO design has really gone backwards. It’s very hard to keep writing passionately about MMOs when your observations and ideas are ignored by the designers. There doesn’t seem to be any open MMO design discussions with serious MMO thinkers and writers as the video game industry is very insular.

    Another problem is that most of the developers really have little to no say in the direction of their MMO. I remember an interview Geoff Zatkin (he designed the magic system for EverQuest) gave about the industry once where he stated that after all his years of experience he was never asked for his ideas on how to make a great MMO. Very few people in a video game company get to decide the direction of the video game.

    I also think the video game community has changed. Many new gamers/players just hate reading and prefer watching short video clips. They prefer the vapid kind of video that you see by a company like Curse where an attractive young person reads a script with fast action video and thumping music in the background. It’s a shame really.

    Search and ranking algorithms used by the big search companies like Google and Bing are another reason for the decline in blogging. They consistently give higher ranking to established corporate video game news sites that publish short, shallow and meaningless articles. Create a Google alert for any major MMO and take a look at the horrific quality of the articles that Google ranks. You almost NEVER see a good blog post in there. It’s a disgrace.

    I stopped writing about MMORPGs for most of the reasons given above. It’s very hard to put passion into something when that passion is not reciprocated. I recently started writing because I was very excited about EverQuest Next. Other than that I see little hope for the MMORPG genre.

    The truth is MMORPGs are boring and predictable these days. Most new MMOs come charging out of the barn with a barrage of hype but then implode a few months later as players figure out that it was all smoke and mirrors. It’s hard if not impossible to keep writing about a genre that is stuck in a downward spiral bad game design.

    Comment by Wolfshead — 22 August, 2013 @ 3:13 PM

  34. If you wondered, I stopped all that stuff because

    a) I was disillusioned, not by developers but by players who seem incapable of understanding that sound analysis of a game’s problem is more use than screaming for the Tier of raids.

    b) Life. I have a baby son now. Maybe when he lets me sleep through the night (just once, son, please…) I’ll write something that isn’t directly for my employer.

    Still working though.

    Comment by Rich Bryant — 18 October, 2013 @ 7:03 AM

  35. Rich Bryant wrote:
    If you wondered, I stopped all that stuff because

    I did wonder, but I know a lot of people just have a shift in priorities. As for being disillusioned, this is the biggest issue you have to face as a developer, I think. Players don’t really think about the long term, that’s your job. Of course, some long-term things that are good for the game get a lot of hate in the short term.

    Anyway, congrats on the baby son. :) Do feel free to stop by and comment, though. I always appreciated your insight.

    Comment by Psychochild — 19 October, 2013 @ 2:51 PM

  36. MMORPGs got very, very, very boring. That’s all.

    Why? In essence the MMO player spectrum is weighted at the extremes not in the middle so the “average” doesn’t actually suit anybody like if half the population were 4′ and half were 6′ and clothes companies made all their clothes for the average size of 5′ even though nobody was actually 5′.

    Comment by bubble — 21 October, 2013 @ 1:20 PM

  37. One of the biggest dampeners for discussions in blog comments, compared to on social media, is that there is really no easy way to keep track of them. For blogs I have an easy way to see if someone replies to a comment I made, and see all the other comments on the post, which presumably was on a topic of interest to me. But if I comment elsewhere, say a Blogger-hosted blog, the only way I have of seeing any replies to my points is to keep going back to check. (Or theoretically subscribe to comments feeds on a per post basis, but who want to do that? Not me anyway.)

    Also it’s somewhat of a pain for me to even post a comment to a Blogger-based site, what with the assorted identity hoops I’d have to jump through.

    Someone needs to figure out a way to see all make the discussions as easy as they are on Twitter.

    Comment by Pasduil — 8 May, 2014 @ 10:52 AM

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