Massively Irrelevant

So I noticed the other day that Massively had missed a small story.  It concerned EvE Online.  And it concerned a battle you probably haven’t heard of.  The one where SEVENTY FIVE FUCKING TITANS DIED.  I looked for it, and I looked back and noticed that their coverage has been… very… meh.  I took to twitter and had pointed out to me by @Noizygamer that  Massively doesn’t cover in-game events in EvE.

Um.  What… The… Fuck…

Seriously what’s the point?  CCP Has twitter, facebook, all the social media stuff.  What’s the point of having people presumably being paid to write about EvE.  The problem is they either aren’t allowed to talk about the actual game, or they simply choose not to.  And that’s not ok.  That’s like a food critic going to a restaurant and talking about the kitchen utensils, the wait staff, and the decor, and what kind of restaurant it is, but not mentioning anything about the actual food.  WTF are they paying you for.   Their opinion pieces are tolerable, but I’d much rather see someone giving Mord Fiddle money to write more, or Ripard Teg, or Rixx, or Noizy, and hell while I’m giving other people’s money away I can always use some.

Massively is a neat website, and one I like to check often, but I rarely find a reason to actually hit a story, because… well… they don’t write stories.  They gloss over things, they pass by things, but half the time I’m clicking into a story it’s to go straight to the bottom and click through to the source material because all they seem to do is rehash the source.  That’s not reporting.  I’d rather have an RSS feed that was smart enough to find new MMOs for me when I get bored of EvE.

But as long as we’re talking about what they DO provide, well lets look at some Op Eds.

Brendan Drain’s latest – His research is shoddy, his ideas are stale, and his writing is bare bones.  (Seriously, there were financials put out twice last year.  BRENDAN YOU ARE GETTING PAID TO DO THIS AND I’M NOT!  If you want to report the information you have to dig to find it, and if you did you’d find out their subscription revenue is still increasing – page 9 at the bottom)

I’m just gonna link Fiddler’s Edge because… well… I have no interest in being fair.  Mord has Brendan beaten like a rented mule.  When he talks about details, he has his ducks in a row.

Who do you think deserves a paying job doing this.  Brendan or Mord?  Who would make their company more relevant.  Most importantly: who wants to read more stories that just rehash a press release?

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

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About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on January 30, 2014, in Things I think I think, Things You Should Know About. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Actually that figure on page 9 is “Revenue from subscriptions and in-game sales” and it includes Dust. The Dust numbers would not have been included in the previous years figures (note the Dust costs in other sections is 0 for the previous report).

    I’m not a Massively fan, but if you’re going to criticize…

  2. EVE was conspicuously absent from Game Informer’s “State of the MMO” article this last issue, too.
    Then again, when you have Fox News covering your shit, who needs Game Infarcer?
    Actually, not to dip too deeply into politics, but CCP should be advertising EVE all over Fox News — it’s the kind of game that Fox watchers would love: the strong thrive, the weak die. We don’t need no more stinkin pansy-ass liberal carebears in our EVE! lol

  3. I don’t know if Massively writers aren’t allowed so much as it seems they require a press release or dev blog from CCP for any stories. No official word, no story.

  4. In Brendan’s defence, the time he can invest in playing EVE to research for his EVE Evolved column has probably taken a hit in recent months due to his successfully Kickstarted indie game, Predestination.

    That’s not to say there aren’t other equally competent writers out there – Mord Fiddle is indeed a very talented wordsmith and is one of many such scribes (yourself included) whom the EVE blogosphere is lucky to have – but I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by attacking a fellow writer, whether they’re paid or not.

    Brendan’s weekly Massively column, EVE Evolved, has been running for nearly 6 years. Even Fiddler’s Edge has fallen silent for periods during that time. As a writer yourself, you know that it is difficult to consistently produced material.

    As someone who has had the opportunity to explore both unpaid blogging, and freelance writing as a primary source of income (and have been pilloried by certain communities – mainly Star Citizen – for my troubles), I can confidently say that for the paltry sums that are paid per article, the more time spent researching, the less viable it becomes as a source of income.

    I’ve always taken pride in ensuring that I try to I write something well-researched, fresh and engaging. However, you soon realise the folly of spending an entire working day (or longer) information gathering for and writing a 1200-word article when you work out the hourly rate. However, I have no intention of capitulating on my principles (which is why it is unlikely I will survive as a games journalist).

    With this in mind, it is not at all surprising to see unpaid blogs written by people who write for the love of the topic and the joy of writing producing material of exceptional quality, whilst in contrast, paid writers find themselves increasingly pushed toward ‘churnalism’ by their paymasters.

    Personally, I think Brendan does a good job of maintaining a balance between writing accessibly for an EVE-curious audience and delving into enough detail to sate those who are more informed.

    On the other hand, Mord has the luxury of being able to focus his appeal on his choice of audience, providing some fantastic but very esoteric and often impenetrably niche material.

    Horses for courses.

    • I agree with much of what you say, but you as much as anyone should realize the difference between doing something as a job and doing it for your own entertainment. I think Brendan has his moments, but either his own chosen coverage, or Massively’s editorial policy, has him completely missing the point of EvE. The players and their interactions. I happen to be one of those people that think that if I’m being paid to do something, especially something I like, I should put my best stuff out there as much as possible, and if it takes extra effort it does.

      Oh and ask me what my hourly pay was in Iraq sometime. Of course my motivation to do the job well was a little bit more than money. 😉

      • Certainly, I think we’re in agreement that quality and attention to detail should always be the priority irrespective of the platform or audience (or hostility of environment in your case). I can’t imagine many writers set out to produce sub-standard material, irrespective of their status as a hobby writer of a professional.
        My point is that the act of receiving payment for work immediately changes the parameters of what the writer is trying to achieve. It is now the wishes and needs of the payer which become the writer’s focus and personal standards of quality and type of content must fit around that.
        I can’t speak for Massively’s editorial policy or the freedom with which Brendan writes, but given that Massively is more of a commercialised blog with regular columns than an up-to-the-minute news site, is it really that much of a crime to not jump on the bandwagon?
        I would imagine Brendan will write something about B-R in an upcoming EVE Evolved, but when every games journalist and the wider media are falling over themselves to splurge something about $300,000 and biggest virtual fights ever, I wouldn’t blame anyone for pausing to take a more considered approach.
        Even if he chooses to cover something else, does that really matter? There’s plenty of other aspects to discuss. Not everyone who plays EVE is in love with the big fleet fight and the time-intensive sov grind.
        It’s all a bit Emperor’s New Clothes anyway. It’s a kind of twisted marketing genius that manages to turn 20-hours of yawn-inducing, slow-motion, coloured boxes into a selling point. I should imagine only a fraction of the starry-eyed new players who will investigate EVE because of the unprecedented coverage will have the endurance and patience to find the realities of that playstyle to their liking anyway.

  5. First of all, thanks to Corelin for this kind words. While taking nothing away from Brendan it’s always gratifying to have one’s work held up as an example of a good read – even if Matt finds me esoteric and impenetrable at times.
    As Matt points out, anyone wishing to write a ‘popular’ blog will follow a well circulated set of rules and guidelines, almost every one of which I violate with abandon. I do challenge my readers at time. However, I find that my regular audience is not only up to the challenge, but enjoy it as well. They are not off-put by the esoteric, and have the patience to follow what might at first glance seem impenetrable, trusting it will lead them somewhere worthwhile. I find them a worthwhile audience to cultivate, and they have repaid my poor efforts many times over with their encouragement and reader loyalty.
    While the act of receiving payment for work can change the nature of the work, this is not an absolute. Many writers like Matt stand on their principles, even if it means a reduction in output or an investment of labor that makes no economic sense in terms of shillings per hour. However, writing content tailored to the payer’s wants doesn’t seem to be the issue in this case.
    Brendan’s difficulty does not seem to be one of editorial directives so much as that he does not have the time to write well owing to the demands on his time by his Predestination project. Assuming that’s the case, both Brendan and Massively’s editorial board are not serving each other (or their readers) well. Brenden is providing Massively with substandard content. Massively is so engaged in pushing new content to drive revenue that they’ll publish substandard content,
    As long as no one holds zines like Massively accountable for the quality of the content they publish, zines like Massively will not hold the writers of that content (such as Brenden) to meaningful quality standards. And good authors like Matt, who are willing to put in the time and effort to write well, will always be undervalued by zines like Massively as long as the status quo holds and writers can get paid for submitting the journalistic equivalent of toenail clippings.
    It is ironic that as Corelin attempts to hold Brenden and Massively accountable for their content, Matt is arguing against such accountability. Of course Matt is arguing on behalf of a fellow writer, which is laudable. However, in so doing he is, by his own admission, arguing for a system in which talents like his own has little place.

    • The problem I have with the staid, formulaic, style of writing that you see at Massively and other sites is that it doesn’t really do anything. One of the points I don’t think I made well enough is that Massively adds nothing to the discussion. EvE Evolved hasn’t been a worth my time for a long time, and most of the other stringers are just that. There’s no one on staff whose writing demands any real knowledge of the game. The writers I mentioned (And Matt, who has already earned a well-deserved paying gig) and even the ones that I am not huge fans of, some of whom I have disparaged on this site, some of whom simply aren’t to my taste, write far more intimate content, content that actually has something to do with events in the game, and not just rehashing devblogs or op-eds that are years out of date.

      Take for example Mike Azariah. I can barely get through a single post he writes. Not because his content is drivel, because it isn’t, or because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because he does; I simply do not like his style of writing. However I think he would serve Massively, or any e-zine far better by writing something that stands out, that shows intelligence, awareness of the actual game, and that sets a unique stamp on it. Now he certainly couldn’t carry as broad a role as Brendan could with his current voice, but at least he has a voice.

      Mord, you come very near the point I am trying to make, but not quite in the black. I am not simply holding Massively and Brendan to account for their content, I’m holding them to account for having people who both know what the game is about, and write like they know what they are talking about.

      I also think that Matt misses a point when he talks about Massively making the rubble bounce by adding to the tremendous amount of ink already spilled in the battle of the battle of B-R. The idea of having news organizations is they publish useful, interesting information in a timely manner. Sure 2 days after the battle there’s very little reason to publish a “breaking news” story. If your news organization is that weak it’s time to fold up shop and go home. The point of putting ANY resources into writing about games is to write about events as soon as you can. Again if you are paying people to follow EvE, I think it’s VERY reasonable to expect them to… ya know… follow EvE.

    • Mord, please don’t take my words as any kind of criticism of you. I meant no offence by describing your writing style as esoteric and impenetrable. I was unclear in that I meant that from a mainstream audience perspective.
      I find your writing is consistently eloquent and inspiring – ‘Fever Dream’ remains one of the finest written works of the blogosphere. You are basically a modern-day Chaucer.
      I was just attempting to hold you up as an an example of the difference between writing commercially and writing well. Although these aspects are not mutually exclusive, there is a reason why the majority of commercial sites are full of nauseating lists of ’27 Reasons to Touch Yourself Whilst Playing GTA V’ and ‘You Have to See This Upskirt Shot of Lara Croft’.
      That reason is mainly the audience. EVE is blessed with having an audience of readers who are prepared to read long-form articles and who don’t have to Google every word that is more than two syllables long.
      That quality of readership is reflected in the quality of the writing to be found throughout the EVE blogosphere.
      However, to the kind of people who enjoy the ‘churnalism’ style articles I mentioned, Fiddler’s Edge would seem esoteric and impenetrable.

  6. Regardless of any kind of fancy spin or numbers a person/CCP wants to put on it, Eve is a fringe game with even less interest to the general gaming public. It’s got its reputation to thank for that, a reputation generated by the players and nurtured by the devs. It isn’t covered anywhere on a regular basis because it’s not relevant, except to the zealots that play it, and even those are increasingly losing interest in the “hype” and going to find gaming activities that are actually fun.
    And, no, subs are NOT increasing, they’re decreasing. You can see it easily in the daily player levels. Even a zealot should be able to understand that every time a PLEX or a time code is sold, that does not mean someone new or more accounts have been subscribed.

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