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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.

Midnight Musings: When Video Games Are Like Chocolate Rabbits

video games are like chocolate rabbitsLate in the middle of the night when I am half asleep or wandering around in the dark trying to find a bathroom, something curious happens. The dark, oily tendrils of thought slowly start to writhe and undulate, eventually squirming through the cracks in my brain and into my conscious mind. These happen to be some of my most brilliant interesting curious strange musings and it isn’t really a convenient creative process as I most likely forget more things than I remember. Nevertheless, it happens all the time like it did last night. I refer to these as my Midnight Musings. Or at least I am starting now.

Have you ever purchased or received a video game and it turns out to be a Chocolate Rabbit? Perhaps more of a dubious coco bunny, but let me explain…

Okay, pretend it’s Easter… or maybe you don’t celebrate that…

It’s Chocolate Bunny Season… You receive one of these sweet confections and the first thing you notice is the awesome box. This things got tons of bright colors, pictures of frolicking rabbits and shit, you can even see the bunny through a little plastic window and 0h- what’s this? There’s a freakin’ maze and word scramble on the back. You know this is going to be a memorable experience.

So you tear the sucker open and yank out the foil covered rabbit. Hrmm, yeah… A little lighter than you expected but that’s probably not indicative of anything, right? You turn the rabbit over in your hands and admire the the beautiful foil art of the rabbit. He’s smiling at you! He looks happy and inviting and he seems to whisper these sweet soft words to you: “Hey guy, it’s cool. Partake of my body — I’m delicious!” You don’t need to wait for a second invite so you shred that thing’s aluminum pelt and get ready to dig in.

Huh… He looks kind of different without his wrapper. He’s naked underneath; gone are his cute overalls and plaid shirt. The once smiling face is cold and lifeless, replaced with a vacant expression and dead eyes. He’s long gone, man. The dude has been checked out for a while now and is resigned to his fate. You try not to look him in the eyes as you take a rather large bite out of his ears but are more than a little surprised at how easily he breaks away. You look down at the bunny and notice he is completely hollow inside. Empty. I mean, you know you’ve had solid bunnies in the past, right? Maybe it’s just a different way to make them? Maybe it’s easier or cheaper, you tell yourself, but the chocolate should still be good, right? Right…?

It isn’t… You’re about halfway through the hollow, soulless rabbit now and all you can think about is how he tastes more like the foil he was wrapped in. You find the scraps of his once pristine aluminum coverings and do your best to wrap him back up, bits and pieces of chocolate poking out here and there. You put your handiwork back in the box, and look at him through the clear plastic window. You can make out his face amongst the crumpled foil mess, except his once inviting grin has been contorted into some sick, twisted smile. The son of a bitch is laughing at you.

So you set it aside. You might finish it later, but you probably won’t. All you are left with is regret and a sick feeling in your gut.

Returning to Normal!

Whew! What a long two weeks.  I’m so glad to be back in SoCal where the weather is amazing and life is just so much more laid back.

I’m really sorry for the lack of posts and general activity on our blog and forums.  Taking finals, graduating from college, hunting for jobs, picking up and moving my life several states away, and really just trying to settle down has been a real time-sucker.  All of that is just about over!  I plan to unpack my desktop today, and maybe even find a few spare minutes to play something.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m away from my computer for several days I feel like I lose track of what’s happening in the world.  Fill me in! Has anything big happened out there? What are you up to?  In all honesty I’m sitting on my couch right now touching my laptop for the first time, so I haven’t even checked Camelot Unchained’s kickstarter numbers or been to any of the news sites to see what’s been going on.

Look for a post either tonight or tomorrow. I promise to inspire you, fill your minds with thought provoking ideas, and have you questioning your own gaming beliefs in no time — or maybe I’ll just give you something to read.  Either way, it’s great to be back!