The value of the blogging community.

Darren made a nice plea over at his site for bloggers to get into the WAR beta, or at the very least Keen. I support that (both the bloggers part and the Keen part), and can’t really come up with a great reason to keep bloggers out.

One reason that does come up whenever the whole ‘are bloggers press’ issue comes up is that the company does not want negative publicity about a game still in beta. Just like certain companies refuse to send PCGamer or other magazines pre-release copies of their games for review, some people think MMO developers apply the same reasoning to bloggers. The reason I have trouble accepting this is that MMO blogs reach a relatively small audience, and a very hardcore one at that. Regardless of your play style or game time per week, anyone who goes out and finds an MMO blog has long since crossed the threshold of casual and into hardcore status. True casual players are not even aware of official forums, let alone fan sites or blogs.

But let’s assume a developer wants to grab even the small hardcore population that does read blogs and listens to podcasts, is keeping the bloggers themselves out going to help? For one thing, bloggers tend to be a close knit community that respect each others opinion (for the most part), and take what is said into consideration. Unlike when I read a PCGamer preview and take everything said with a grain of salt, if I read something positive on a blog that I respect I take it as truth. When I read that Tabula Rasa ‘turned a corner’ and was actually fun, it put the game on my list. Based almost exclusively on Tipa’s writing, I went out and bought two copies of EQ2 to give it a try. Sure it did not work out, but it was two copies and three months of subs I would have never bought had it not been for her blog. On the other hand, while I was in the PotBS beta, my decision to see what the game was like in release was put on hold based on Keen’s PvP write ups, showing me that game was not yet ready for prime time. Of course, if in two months Keen makes a post saying all is well and PvP in Pirates is a blast, that could sway my opinion right back.

My point is that while bloggers do influence buying decisions among our small community, they do so with honesty. No one here gets paid to write glowing reviews or previews. If you have a solid product, bloggers will write that. If your game has issues, we will write that as well. Ultimately it comes down to the buyer; it just so happens bloggers and our readers tend to be better informed than the average gamer, able to see past the bullet point fluff and analyze the details. If everything checks out, you get our money. If you have some skeletons that you tried to hide, you likely won’t see many of us subscribe until you straighten those issues out.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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7 Responses to The value of the blogging community.

  1. Bildo says:

    I have to agree, as I did at Darren’s. It just doesn’t really add up to making any iota of sense to keep us out, except I can see the “when the press gets in, so will you” argument. They want us to see the same “good” game as the press sees so that we don’t bash it prematurely.

    I don’t think it’s a correct assumption to make, but then it’s not my game. I just want to be a part of the testing process. Hopefully sooner or later I’ll make it in and add my 2 cents. I just hope it’s not so late that nothing I say or add to the testing will matter, as is the case when the Press is added to the beta test. At that point, it’s mostly stress testing to be done.

  2. Swift Voyager says:

    1- You’re risking a leak of information.

    2- You’re showing the game to an ‘expert editorialist’ when it’s still in Beta.

    3- Blogger opinions are not representative of mainstream target market

    4- By not letting you into the beta they get more talk about the game because you make posts like this

    5- The get your opinion about the game without letting you see the beta because you read all the press releases and carry on detailed discussions based on those

  3. Tipa says:

    Bloggers are precisely the kind of greassroots adopters that are generally prized and relied upon when marketing other sorts of entertainment products, like movies, TV shows and so on. In those realms, not letting people who might influence other people see it in preference to those who probably won’t, is a sign of two things. Either the property is “critic proof”, meaning the target audience will buy it no matter what someone says about it; or it’s bad and they are depending on moving lots of product before word gets out.

    Picking on Vanguard because I can, there’s a game being kept solely alive by passionate fans who write about it and influence others to give it a try, warts and all.

    WAR will have a strong opening, of course. But why wouldn’t they want people out there saying, “I can’t give specifics because of the NDA, but trust me — it’s what we’re waiting for. It’s FUN.”

    Unless that weren’t true.

  4. syncaine says:

    Vanguard is a great example.

    I find myself trying to come up with reasons why Mythic is doing this beyond the ‘our game is bad’ theory, mainly because I want WAR to be good.

    One thing to consider however is that a PvP based MMO is far harder to balance than a PvE one, and a game this early in the balance process might be very rough in that regard. Picking a weak class and getting dominated by the game might leave even bloggers with a bad taste, and inspire a doom and gloom rant. But yea… that’s kind of stretching it. Unless they got really scared by the whole Tabula Rasa beta feedback, I have no answers.

  5. Thallian says:

    Vangaurd isnt the only game to have done this of course but its notable because of the amount of hype and money they blew, its been a common thing to do this with single player games, especially on the Wii and PC lately :P I really liked Keen’s description of things when the gamespot firing scandal occurred. It IS valuable to have extra opinions that are not from “the man”. Metacritic is a fun site if you guys ever want to check that out, just google it. It is of course skewed by “the man” but nevertheless can show you trends that are useful in ratings. Btw since you started a post about blogs and I cant find a link to email this info to you or to bildo and I enjoy reading your blogs come check mine out at http://thallians.blogspot.com/
    :)

  6. Zubon says:

    All games are hereby Vanguard until proven otherwise.

  7. Jessicacs says:

    thanks much, bro

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