Bringing Back Videos in a New Way

Keen and Graev's Youtube ChannelI’ve given a lot of thought recently to where I see the blog going for the remainder of 2015 and into the near future. I’m always thinking about whether or not there’s something we can do to enhance the blog without taking away from our core competence of writing content about the games we play.

When Twitch was just starting out we dabbled into streaming a bit. I might consider doing that again, but a capable internet connection is not available in my area at the moment. Even so, streaming doesn’t mesh with the style of content we provide here. We’re not entertainers. We’re not serious journalistic types. We have always provided something that most sites lack; Something we have always been about: Discussion.

I want to start making videos again, and I want to tailor them towards a deeper and more analytical discussion like you see here on the blog. For example, when I talk about immersion and danger in a MMORPG, wouldn’t it be great to actually show that in a video and walk through the process of identifying those traits? Showing what I’m writing about seems to me like it can only enhance or augment what is already taking place here on the blog.

Videos were one of the biggest ways we kickstarted our blog’s success. Remember those Age of Conan beta videos I shot where I ran around the battlegrounds and discussed how each class felt compared to the others? Those brought in 100,000’s of views and visitors. How about those cheesy Allods online videos? I can’t believe some of them broke 100,000 views. The facts cannot be ignored: Videos are a preferred medium.

I’m not looking to provide TV-like entertainment or provide something you’ll tune in to every afternoon at work for a laugh or to distract you. That space is already monopolized and readily available to you on Twitch. I’m looking to provide something I haven’t found, and a space I think is empty and ready to be filled. I have the experience, especially in MMOs, to provide commentary on gameplay mechanics, design elements, and the type of stuff readers of this blog would want to see. My hope is that by turning my written-medium into video form I will be able to reach a wider audience to not only grow our blog but help educate and improve the gaming community.

The style of these videos will be very casual and similar to the “let’s play” style that has become popular over the years. I’ll probably throw an intro on there (with custom music composed by my Wife — she’s an awesome composer & arranger) and launch right into showing you gameplay with discussion.  From there I’ll just launch into playing and discuss what’s going on. I expect to probably have series going for games. I might have everything from an EverQuest series of let’s play videos to Assassin’s Creed. Whatever the game, there may be multiple videos and I want them all to showcase the games while highlighting that thoughtful discussion.

These videos won’t be super regular at the start. I can’t promise one a day yet or anything. I want to test the waters and get my own feet wet with figuring out exactly how I want to create them, but my goal is to eventually be making them regularly. They will be especially interesting and worth-watching for upcoming and newer games. I will be going through some older games as well, but will focus my efforts on what’s new when those opportunities are available.

I will, of course, post everything here. If you want to give us a follow on our (currently very out-of-date) Keen and Graev Youtube page please do! I’m also looking for feedback on a name. How about “Keen Insights” … yay, nay? The name might come later.

Partnered with GMG


I’m excited to share with you all that we are now partnered with Green Man Gaming!

We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to provide our readers and community with resources to save them time and money. At the same time, we have a requirement of anything we endorse, recommend or affiliate with: We must have already used it ourselves and love it.

Green Man Gaming has been a great resource for gaming deals over the years. Being as transparent as possible, here is a list of every game Graev and I have purchased from GMG in the past two years:

Keen and Graev voucher

Use code: KEENAN-DGRAEV-G20OFF Save 20% on games like Mortal Kombat X and GTAV

  • Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (NA)
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • XCOM: Enemy Within (NA)
  • Battlefield 4
  • THIEF: Master Thief Edition (NA)
  • Titanfall
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial Edition (Two Copies)
  • WildStar
  • Tropico 5
  • The Evil Within and Season Pass
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™

Most of those are Steam keys, some are on Origin, and the rest are stand-alone titles. TESO, WildStar, BF4, and Civ 5 were all pre-orders. GMG handles pre-orders very well and has never been late delivering our keys (which they store in a convenient section on the website under your account).

GMG is a great place to save $5-$10 on new games. For example, when ESO hadn’t even come out yet I purchased both copies at 20% off. The way GMG does this is through these voucher codes like the one in the image above. Using the code KEENAN-DGRAEV-G20OFF you can save 20% on even new titles like Mortal Kombat X and GTAV. It’s silly to pay full price for games when they’re available at a discount right at launch.

So what do we get for this partnership? It’s an affiliate program. That means we get a percentage of what you buy. All of our earnings go directly toward paying for our hosting, domain, and Ventrilo server (which cost more than we have ever made on ads/affiliate programs).  I want to get to the point where we can break even by sending you to places where you can actually save money (like GMG) and ditch these Google ads we have on the blog.

How will we utilize this new partnership? I’ll be watching GMG closely and letting you know about deals. Follow us on twitter (@keenandgraev) where I’ll tweet about a great deal when I find one. I’ll also likely include a link in a review or something. No spamming, no banners, nothing obnoxious. Just honest down-to-earth good deals when I see one.

Thank you for your support!

Streaming vs. Blogging

I’ve been talking with Graev and our K&G Community for a long time about the rise of video game streams.  A couple of them were harassing me last night because I do tend to rant and “QQ” when it comes to this new found medium for gaming commentary and entertainment.  It’s big.  There’s no doubt about it.  Seriously, people are making a living doing it, all the consoles are building it right into their feature list, and game developers are starting to pay (too) much attention to those who stream their games.  Let’s break this down.

Streaming vs. Blogging

Yeah, it was inevitable.  Podcasts, Blogs, Youtube videos, etc., all had their big day.  Streaming is in the spotlight now and it will be for a long time.  About a year ago was when the start of the decline began.  We certainly haven’t let up around here, and never will, but we’re feeling the burn.  Streaming provides that TV level of visual stimulation.  I won’t lie — even I prefer watching streams over reading blogs!

I feel like blogs and written commentary typically provide a higher level of quality commentary.  Streams are entertaining, and blogs are more analytical / academic / theoretical / philosophical/etc. It’s watching a tv vs. reading a magazine or a book.

Streaming is becoming a money maker.  In all the time we have ever blogged we’ve never once turned a profit.  We run ads here and receive donations to help us cover costs, but we still lose.   I can’t even fathom how or why I would want to do this for a living — it’s simply not the feel we’re going for here.  Streaming on the other hand feels, as a whole, more like a capitalistic endeavor.  That’s really not a bad thing, but it sets a tone. [Read more…]

MMO Gamers are Getting Smarter

MMO Gamers are getting smarter.  That’s the thought I had while driving home from work today.  Seven years ago when we started this blog, I realized that Graev and I had experience with games — particularly MMOs — not found among your typical “gamers.”  People simply weren’t thinking about games.  They played them.  Some wrote about them.  But most people were not formulating any additional thought around why they play a particular game, or whether or not a game would be successful based on the sum of its parts.  All of that is changing.

Places like Reddit are full of niche communities (and some not so niche at all) with brilliant ideas and ways of looking at games.  Although I often view Reddit as a hive mind, you can’t argue with their ability to see right the bs and get results.  Reddit gives CEOs of big studios a reason to comment, influences game direction, and has created an unprecedented level of transparency.  Blogs are incredibly common now.  Even the occasional live stream has someone with a decent amount of insight.

The WoW generation is becoming jaded.  This is a subject for another time, but I feel the WoW generation is over in the sense that people are no longer entering that group of people.  It ended in 2012.  Blizzard knows this.  Their marketing strategy has changed to one of increasing current user consumption.  Now that we have the old guard (1995-2003) and the WoW generation (2004-2012) each finding themselves removed from the current spotlight, there’s a power vacuum.   I honestly believe any MMO releasing in 2014 is going to be shredded by a failure to appeal to the older generations, and having no idea how to appeal to the newer ones.

WildStar is attempting to be the class clown.  They act ridiculous and zany to get attention and distract from the fact that nothing of real value is being introduced.  WildStar releases on the last leg of the WoW generation, but luckily someone there had juuuuuust enough insight to know they needed to do a throwback to a few older mechanics.  It won’t work in the long run.  That generation is finally too smart to fall for it.  I never thought I would say that.  Then we have ESO which  is simply being obliterated by common sense well in advance.  I feel bad in a way; someone there clearly saw the shift but way too late to do anything.  Now you have a game that won’t appeal to the MMO market it’s launching into, and won’t appeal to its namesake either.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure both will benefit from the fact that there’s nothing else to play.  That has 3-monther written all over it, though.

Marketing MMOs is going to become much harder now.  Who are the big publishers marketing to now that a third generation of players is beginning to enter the market?  Cinematic trailers and fancy graphics aren’t enough.   Heck, screw marketing.  What is going to be done about the DESIGN side of things?   Indie game development and consumption is on the rise.  Free to Play didn’t take off as a clear cut model for developing MMOs like many thought it would.  There’s this void waiting to be filled.  Who will have the next golden idea? Will it be EverQuest Next? Camelot Unchained?

This will be an interesting era for us to watch and write about.  Clearly it won’t be easy for anyone.  Many of our readers have already expressed to me that they haven’t touched their PC in a year, or stopped playing MMOs 6-12 months ago.  They claim nothing looks good enough to bring them back.  That’s both a problem and an opportunity.  This should be interesting indeed.

I should close here by thanking our readers.  I know you have many choices for your gaming commentary, and I thank you for choosing to include us.  Gaming discussion is being taken to a higher, more intelligent level.  I’ve noticed it from you in our comments, and I only hope to continue that in our writing.

Experimenting – Excuse the Dust!

For the next few hours we will be conducting updates to our site and experimenting with design changes.  The site will be live during these updates, so if something breaks or looks totally bizarre just know that we’re working on it and should have everything stabilized soon.

If we can get the site looking good, we will keep the changes.

Keen and Graev

Update: We’ll continue working tomorrow. Working on it right now.