Surprise to few, yet to many, AOL has decided to shutter the Joystiq line (Massively and WoW Insider included). While I’ve had issue with the overall quality of WoW Insider for some time, Massively filled a needed niche that I am struggling to find elsewhere. It’s not my place to argue metrics, but I find it hard to see how parts of the service weren’t turning profitable. It’s not like the market is saturated, though perhaps it is stale.
Joystiq proper… that’s a site I had near the top, along with Kotaku (though that’s more top 10 lists of late), Rock/Paper/Scissors and Polygon. ‘stiq took the high road in the gamergate debacle (which triggered from a Kotaku article), so it’s hard to see a link there. The boycott fallout though… that’s a potential cause.
It did take a beating over it’s review practices and assigning scores on early releases. That was enough that they had to issue an apology and change the way they issue reviews from that point forward. It was clear in that message that they were going to forego hits by taking that stance, as the majority of traffic about a game was on or near release date and had a very short tail.
It’s speculation at this point, as is most of the actions that AOL takes.
The good news is that in the 10 years that it was around, it made a solid space for itself and for gaming. The start was a little rough, but what wasn’t 10 years ago? There were some really odd patches, then some true moments of brilliance, as occurs in any new scene. Sera’s soapbox rants are a particularly interesting highlight for me (she’s with Turbine now as a community manager). It would seem that many of the authors on all the various streams had found a footing outside by some point. Or at least those that wanted to stay in the field and not simply stick around for the fun of it.
For the highs and lows of gaming, it seems like Joystiq was always around to report.
I think the overall reaction to this has been sadness. One, clearly for the authors themselves who are now out of work. It was bad enough last year when there was the big cuts but to shut it all down just seems like kicking ’em when they were down.
Second for the service that was provided. Joystiq proper has alternatives, yes, but Massively certainly does not. WoW Insider, since mid-MoP, really hasn’t provided any tangible value aside from their daily Q&A post, or their lore articles. Even with 10m players, the secrets of WoW are gone. MMO-Champ and WoWHead (and a half dozen other sites) had simply removed the curtain. But MMO news…that’s a tough one. Maybe MMORPG.com can take some slack (even with an interface from 1992). I know a few bloggers post there.
There does bear mention to a few folk who are happy with the closure. One in particular, whose circular arguments are so asinine, you’d think they were written by a teen and not a graduate. But hey, they are one of the web’s largest hypocritics (hates shill streamers & watches streams, hates F2P & won’t buy games, hates early access & buys into each of them) you can’t really expect a whole lot of consistency.
But in all communities, you’re going to have some bad apples, you just need to move past it.
Hopefully the majority of the authors can find alternate work. I’m really hoping that Rossi had alternative career plans aside from a love of WoW and dinosaurs, as I think he’s been around WoWI since the start. Fingers crossed that Syp can continue his blogging activities and perhaps transfer some of those post streams to his own site – it’s always an entertaining diary read.
I’m curious as to the ripple effect, or conversely, the void effect that this closure has on the news market. It would seem that MMOs themselves, due to the past 5+ years of general failures of all launches, are turning back into a niche they once were. Large multiplayer games without any persistence seem to be taking the stage, or at least taking a piece of the pie.
To those that have written on the sites and can no longer, I do want to say thank you for your efforts. They have provided entertainment and kept me abreast of a market I truly enjoy.