ESO:Why we cover what we do, part two
Last week, I promised you a second round of questions and answers regarding the types of calls Massively makes on which games and stories it will cover and why. Let’s get to it.
Mike9 wrote, “I will play [State of Decay] because it looks awesome, but I never understand why Massively covers it; it is a single-player game, not an MMO by even the loosest of definitions, not unless Super Mario World is also considered an MMO now (well, I guess that did allow two players).”
I assume you’re looking for a better answer than braaaaaiiiiinnnnsssssss!
In a way, this one’s down to the nature of news posts and how there’s not enough room in them for tons of context. State of Decay is indeed a single-player game from Undead Labs. We’ve been tracking it loosely since its earliest days partly because Undead Labs is also making an MMO based on the same world and partly because the studio was founded by former ArenaNet VIPs. In fact, the MMO was announced first but was seemingly set aside temporarily so that the company could focus on the single-player console version, probably because money. The story might make you think of Torchlight II or Kingdoms of Amalur, but let’s hope that unlike the Torchlight MMO and Project Copernicus, Undead Labs’ Class4 MMO actually, you know, happens.
Just remember that we do occasionally cover games that are not MMOs when they have relevance to the genre in some way. And by MMO, I mean the broader term now embraced by the industry. We MMORPG gamers have lost that war, but they can’t take “MMORPG” from us! Just because we’re covering it doesn’t mean we’re fooled. Promise.
Several people wrote, “Why did Massively cover the Elder Scrolls Online beta leak video?”
I don’t like leaks any more than rumors. They’re a pain in the butt whether we run them or not. But contrary to what some commenters apparently believe, we don’t have a formal “no leaks” policy, though you’re right that we’re quick to nuke breaches in our comments where people exaggerate and lie on a daily basis. Traditionally, if someone sends us a leak and asks us to break the story, whether we do so depends on the story. I don’t like NDA-breaking, but if someone leaks, say, screenshots from a defunct game or documents proving that a company has been lying about its microtransaction policies, history shows that we lean toward running them.
The ESO video is its own unique situation. We didn’t break the story; it was all over the internet by the time we got to it. At least one commenter said it was lame to use the “he hit me first, mommy!” rationale, but it’s true: Reporting on an existing, widespread leak is very different from actually doing the leaking. The genie was already out of that bottle. And talking about it was something our readers clearly wanted to do, as evinced by the comment cavalcade.
I don’t agree with those who thought we should have withheld the video because our readers “cannot handle it.” You’d be angry if we sugarcoated anything else! Besides, this wasn’t the first video of the game out there; everyone at PAX saw the game, we’ve had multiple hands-on pieces, and so on. People who want to hate the game are going to hate it no matter what we (or ZeniMax, for that matter) do. That video could have been completely pro with bleeding-edge graphics and showering everyone in the comments with wads of free money baked into chocolate cake and haters would still be hating.
Of course, the “you threw ZeniMax under a bus for hits” stuff assumes you think the game was made to look bad by the video. I don’t. It looks fine to me, and that’s in the crummiest video ever. The editor who wrote about it did so because it looked better than he expected!
You guys are completely entitled to think that posting about an already-uncontainable leak fell into a grey area. We struggled with it too and will no doubt struggle with similar decisions in the future. But we didn’t struggle with it out of deference to a game studio or concern for a few forum trolls who’d already made up their minds on the game anyway. We’ll absolutely keep our word to game studios when we give it, but we don’t work for them. It’s not our job to protect them, their games, or you from their rogue beta testers once they’re loose on the internet.