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Some months back, Massively decided to savage ESO because one-sided rants are the new journalism, or some such.

Yes, I know that a good few of my posts are one-sided rants. I never claimed to be a journalist, and I do this primarily for my own entertainment rather than for a living. I hope you are entertained as well, but if you aren’t then you don’t have to read this – I doubt I’ll ever be the first person to break some story so you wouldn’t actually be missing anything apart from my one-sided rants.

Anyway, apparently now it’s Wildstar’s turn

It’s pretty clear Wildstar hasn’t conquered the MMO playing world, and the gaming commentariat have got the knives out for it like a Thanksgiving turkey now that ArcheAge has supplanted it as The New Shiny and Saviour Of The MMO Genre. There are sensible, thoughtful articles to be written about just why Wildstar hasn’t really caught on, whether it is really in a death spiral or settling into a niche, and what (if anything) can be done about it. There are bloggers who have written just such an article. Massively haven’t gone down that route. The premise of the article is that since Massively submitted some questions to Carbine (at the studio’s request) and haven’t received an answer to the questions, while a rival site did get a reply to their questions, that the game is in incredibly deep, dark doo-doo and Carbine are covering it up. In other words, in the absence of any concrete answer one way or another assume the very worst.

The problem with that is that there are actually four possible explanations for the lack of response:

1) Evil Corporate Conspiracy.

2) Carbine decided that the questions were posed with an obvious agenda, along the lines of “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”, that there was no answer to give that wouldn’t result in it being used to pillory them, and refused to play that game.

3) Carbine decided that Massively are way down the pecking order of websites and either can’t be arsed to waste their time on them, or are going to once they’ve finished answering questions from the more important websites and just haven’t got around to poor little Massively yet.

4) PR department cock-up. Massively’s questions got lost down the back of a radiator, or the intern who was supposed to pass them on to the devs subsequently got fired for watching porn on the office computer before he could get around to it, or something of that ilk.

We don’t actually know which is the truth. I tend to look for explanations other than 1, mostly because I work with several conspiracy theorists and I just find them annoying. Answer 2 is quite possible, given that we never see the exact questions posed to Carbine – we’re just told that they were about “the health of the game” and that MMORPG’s questions were “gentler”. It’s probably not reason 3, because even though it may be past its glory days, Massively is still one of the premier news sites for the genre and it would be incredibly stupid to invite a journalist to submit questions only to then leave them at the bottom of your in-tray. However, answer 4 is always possible as I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of human incompetence (that back of a radiator thing happened to an acquaintance of mine and delayed his job application for six months before the HR person found the form).

Wildstar has definitely shed a lot of its initial players. Whether that constitutes a ‘death spiral’ remains to be seen. What is pretty clear is that spinning dark fantasies in response to a perceived snub is piss-poor journalism, especially from someone who’s actually paid to do so.

One Comment

  1. I’m not saying it’s a good article, but where does it say anything about corporate conspiracy? I just re-read it and I couldn’t find anything referring to that in there at all. The message I got from it was mainly that if Carbine is not willing to answer questions about the health of the game, they probably don’t have any answers to give that wouldn’t cast them or the game in a negative light. That’s hardly a “cover-up”.

    I do think it’s fair to question their lack of response when they specifically asked Massively to submit questions (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the questions veered into point 2 territory).

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