The recent news from Joystiq regarding rumors of their demise is looking more and more to be true. This will affect two sites that I have frequently relied on for years, Massively and WoW Insider, and hearing this news was almost like hearing that an old friend potentially has a terminal illness.
Massively especially has a soft spot in my heart because they give valuable coverage to indie games that players would otherwise never hear of. Such was the case for me several years ago when they wrote about an indie game called Wurm Online. This started a chain of events that changed my life for the better. While playing Wurm, a game with maaaaaybe 1500 players at the time, I (by chance) met a player who happened to live in my area. We became friends, and that person helped me make a major career change from a dead end, lackluster job to an actual career that I didn’t think I would be able to make it in (but I am). Ultimately I trace it all back to one article about a little indie sandbox game written by Shawn Schuster. Without it, my life would be vastly different.
The thing is, when it comes to reviews and opinions on games, I personally place more value on reviews and opinions given on volunteer blogs and via Twitter than I do any outlet where the writers are paid. It may be the cynic in me, but I just feel like writers are more free to give their honest opinion when they don’t have to be concerned about an outlets reputation with developers. But what Massively does very well is aggregate all the news regarding MMOs of all sizes into one news source. Not just developer news, but news of player – driven events and other noteworthy items that we otherwise wouldn’t see. That is the gap that will be left if the rumors are true. No other outlet does this as well or as cleanly as they do, and I think that’s a huge credit to them.
Most importantly, there are talented writers at Joystiq, Massively, and WoW Insider that will likely be displaced. Anytime a person loses their job for reasons beyond their control is sad. It’s doubly sad when they love what they do and have families that are relying on that income. I sincerely hope that all of the writers land on their feet at another gig soon. They deserve better than this, and if if the closure does come to pass, we will all be the poorer for it.