There is no question that the strong majority of North American MMO players play World of Warcraft. Even assuming a paltry 3 million players are still playing in the twilight of the latest expansion, that is still a magnitude more active players than the next similar MMO in line. Other MMOs like FreeRealms and Runescape muddy the waters as to what is an active or subscribing player or even similar game. But, defining MMO is irrelevant. What is relevant is World of Warcraft is the god-king of MMOs, and like a good god-king, it views itself as above the rest to the degree that they might as well not exist.
I first noted this on Massively, which frequently puts out excellent industry round-ups. The three I remember: Redefining MMOs, Making it as an MMO blogger, and an interview with the most influential woman in MMO development had no Blizzard involvement! Their silence seemed to say a lot.
Now to be fair, Massively has a great sister site called WoW.com, which is filled to the brim with World of Warcraft news and articles. I don’t play World of Warcraft, but I find WoW.com to be a fantastic news site. Yet, even they seem to get no direct contact with Blizzard.
I asked Massively’s Shawn Schuster about this phenomenon of silence from Blizzard. He said that Massively leaves all World of Warcraft / Blizzard happenings to WoW.com, which makes sense. Shawn went in to add that they are, however, a tough nut to crack. The few times Massively has contacted Blizzard they have been met with silence or polite refusal. The same is likely for WoW.com.
Could this be an issue of bad blood with Massively and WoW.com? It turns out that I could not find any Blizzard contact with TenTonHammer or MMORPG.com either. This creates an awkward situation where the news sites feel compelled to run content on World of Warcraft because believably a large amount of their readership plays the MMO, but they are then ignored by the company that they cover. If this is not a bitter situation, then they are true professional journalists of the highest sort.
WarCry seemed to be the lucky news site when they were allowed an interview with Blizzard for the then-upcoming Wrath of the Lich King. This interview still pops up as a special content icon on WarCry’s front page. This is interesting because I find WarCry’s news much less helpful than the other three MMO news sites I mentioned.
Then there is WorldofWarcraft.com, which is Blizzard’s own news site. Sure, it is the game’s website for patch notes, the game guide, and other things, but they also provide articles almost every day. Then there are the official forums where Eyonix and Ghostcrawler are fairly active. Still they are less active than others.
Like I said, I don’t currently play World of Warcraft so my emotional response to their silence is pretty low. The companies I seem to follow and love seem to reach out to news sites, blogs, podcasts, and forums. Their market share ranges across the board. Is this a condition of royalty? Has Prince Blizzard walked in to the crowded, adoring room so many times that it no longer feels the need to look back? Do the other MMO companies reach out due to necessity, or does the fact that they aren’t the market leader give them more freedom to communicate how they wish? I do know that I am grateful for all the developers that read and communicate with our humble blog and all the news sites and blogs I follow. It gives me the impression that those developers are really just one of us.
that’s what they say. it’s not what they mean.