One of the things I have failed miserably at lately is keeping up with my blog feed. During the heyday of Google Reader I was a voracious consumer of gaming blogs of all stripe, and regularly read through everything in my backlog of posts. Stuff happened and my attempt to expand my horizons when I was writing a column on the blogosphere saw my feed ballooning to some 700 sites… a good number of them posting about things that never really interested me on a personal level. As a result I find myself spending less time reading blog posts and tend to catch up in a flurry of reading on the weekends. That said I did end up doing a strafing run on Feedly yesterday afternoon and stumbled across a post from Tobold posing the question of whether or not the MMO Blogosphere is still alive. The short answer is yes, the community is still very much alive. The long answer however is a lot more complicated. While there are still a ton of active people that I see when I catch up on my feed, there are also a lot of names and faces that I have not really seen much from in years. There has been a changing of the guards and I feel like maybe I have done a poor job of catching up with who is leaving the community and who is brand new. Additionally the “community” aspect is a little on the ropes. We didn’t have a Newbie Blogger Initiative this year nor did I do anything with Blaugust… two previously big events that pulled people in. We barely had a Developer Appreciate Week… and only then because Ravalation was determined to make sure it happened. I’ve personally failed miserably this year at attempting any sort of outreach into the community because 2017 has been a time when literally all I can seem to manage to do is attempt to keep one foot moving in front of the other.
The other big change I have noticed is we no longer have the big MMORPG game looming on the horizon that we are all interested in playing. The community as a whole is way more fragmented in their tastes. In the run up to World of Warcraft expansions, Star Wars the Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, Wildstar or even as far back as Warhammer Online there was a community upsurge of blog sites that sprung up as players attempted to mitigate their hype levels by pouring that excess energy into post form. That is just a thing that doesn’t really happen these days as the traditional MMORPG outside of South Korean doesn’t appear to be a viable business model that big studios are really releasing these days. Instead we have the MMO-lite games that have some online interaction capabilities like The Division or Destiny but lack some of the rich imaginative landscape that us bloggers used to feast upon. Essentially when we started playing MMORPGs it was a novel concept and gave us a sort of interaction that we could not get in any other game. Now that same concept of being online and playing with a bunch of your friends while working on some long term achievement is no longer really something special… and instead describes almost all of the games on the market right now. Almost every game has RP elements that allow you to customize or build your character, and almost every game now has an online presence often with some sort of persistent progression system. MMORPGs no longer really offer something unique that you cannot get in dozens of other places… that also don’t require the level of community to support them. The games have changed and with that the amount of effort and time they ask of us… or at the very least the sort of skills that they require. While I can wax philosophically about the differences between two guns and the way they fire in Destiny 2… that isn’t exactly something more players even care about.
Lastly I think the players and their habits have changed. When I started playing Destiny at launch back in 2014, one of my big frustrations was how there were no blogs really dedicated to the game. Instead that community exists as a combination of Reddit posts and YouTube videos that you then need to somehow knit together to get an overarching picture of what is actually happening. I wish I could say that this phenomena is unique to Destiny, but it seems more often than not the newer games don’t really have much in the way of a blogosphere presence. In some ways I think we are aging out of blogs being a relevant experience. While I have never actually had the “thousands of vistors per day” that Tobold talks about in his post unless some major news site picks up one of my posts… I’ve had a steady trickle that has stayed pretty stable through the almost nine years I have been blogging. In honesty my daily readership comes and goes based on what I happen to be posting about. Each time on get on a Destiny bender, the folks who just do not care about that tend to disappear. When I pick back up a game they are interested in… they tend to come back. Most of our blogs were started during the most fertile period of MMORPG releases to exist… and with that ground turning fallow we are left to turn to other interests. My blog started as a World of Warcraft Warrior Tanking blog… with a super narrow focus and over the years has shifted over and over again until finally I don’t really have a “format”. This blog is me and my ramblings and if you aren’t interested in that you aren’t likely going to be here very long. I’ve seen many other bloggers shifting to the same sort of thing, and while I personally care about their lives and their opinions… it makes our blogs harder to digest for those who have not been along for the full journey.