2012 in Review

Another year has come and gone.  As I reflect on a year of blogging, gaming, and industry events, I’m full of mixed emotions.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog in 2012

We had more traffic this year than ever before!  We started blogging in February 2007 meaning we’re almost six years old.  I’m extremely proud that last year we grew our daily readership by 53%.  That’s insane!  I can’t believe so many more people now visit us daily compared to the start of 2011.  We didn’t hype any major MMO releases, come up with any new phrases adopted by the industry, or receive any magical exclusives to drive traffic.   I think the biggest increases came from two blog posts that were done simply to help people:

Each of the above brought in hundreds of thousands of people.  Maybe this means we should go into tech support instead of musing about games all day?

I’m always fascinated by how I wrote during the year.  Some years I’m hyped up, others I’m negative.  Some years I feel full of ideas and inspired to share my thoughts on how games should be made, and others I just analyze what’s happening.  This year was really ‘matter of fact’.  I commented a lot on the state of things.  Although this isn’t my favorite style (I prefer sharing ideas I have for how games can be made) it was needed, and fit the events of 2012.

‘Sandbox vs. Themepark’ and ‘Old school vs. A New Trope’ were extremely hot topics that came up in some form every month.  I didn’t debate F2P as much as I did in 2011 because that topic took a back seat to analyzing why games are 3 monthers, or why MMOs die.   I think we really dug into what MMOs are doing to deserve their classification, and discovered together what makes them fail and succeed.  I’ve had a wonderful time learning from what you have to say in the comments.  Keep it up!

Check out more of my 2012 in review including my year-end thoughts on specific MMO’s after the break.

The MMOs of 2012

This year was full of disappointments for me.  Sure, there were some good moments even in the worst of the bunch, but I can’t shake the feeling that I never found a game this year that really made an impact.  There was a huge rise in the “play to beat” or “please to consume” themepark trend, and I didn’t branch out far beyond the norm.

Star Wars The Old Republic – Carrying over from 2011, SWTOR started strong but quickly burned out for me and the likely the rest of you.  The emphasis on story proved a bust, and it turned out that having your own story and playing a single-player MMO aren’t as important as other features.

Guild Wars 2 – I loved playing Guild Wars 2 my first time through. ArenaNet did a great job with most of the content, did some much needed innovating, and really progressed the buy-to-play trend. GW2 is “play to beat”, though.  Sure, I did in 3 weeks what some people are taking 3 months to do, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there is very little to keep me playing.  Content is king in a themepark, and there wasn’t enough for me to justify logging in.  I plan to return in January to see what’s new.  As for the WvW PvP… it’s good.  It’s not great, or long-term, but it’s closer to what I want that most other games.  I hope 2013 brings a lot of changes to help the WvW improve.

World of WarCraft: Mists of Pandaria – I returned to WoW in mid October and played for a little over a month.  I leveled a Pandaren Shaman from 1-90 and saw all of the raid content available at the time thanks to raid finder. Unlike Cataclysm, the 5-man dungeons are actually fun; The raids were interesting, and zones were fun to hang out in.   I don’t regret playing to see Pandaria, and I’m glad I was able to get WoW out of my system for a while.

Planetside 2 – The worst thing I can say about PS2 is it had poor timing.  Launching when I went home for Thanksgiving meant I couldn’t play for two weeks at launch or much after due to test season starting shortly after.  I haven’t been able to play as much as I would like, but what I have played I enjoy.  I think SoE has done themselves a great favor by launching a game that isn’t hated by most who try it.  They’ve also done a good job with their F2P model.  If they can take the same model and apply it to a MMORPG instead of a MMOFPs then they may actually be the first to do a cash shop right.

Playing More than MMOs

I played more non-MMOs this year than the past few years combined.  I made a goal (about two year ago maybe?) to branch out and play more console games, avoid missing major titles, and allow myself to indulge in more playing and less waiting.   Do you have the same problem I do where you spend more time sitting waiting for a game to launch than you do playing it?  I’m trying to overcome that problem.

Anyhow, I loved the new Batman franchise, Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Kingdoms of Amalur, Torchlight 2, Orcs Must Die! 2, and a handful of others like DOTA2.  I think my biggest disappointment of the year for non-MMOs was Mass Effect 3.  I had hopes for it to really end the series for me in a big way, but I felt confused the whole time and still hate the ending.

2012 was a decent year for blogging.  Despite our blog’s growth, I look back and wish we had more to talk about.  Let’s hope that developers like SoE, who plan to take things in a new direction (EverQuest 3?), and Blizzard, who may finally give us a look at the “next generation” (Titan?), give us a reason to debate and learn together.  And I think we’re all ready for some developer, old or new, to come along and turn the gaming industry upside down.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you my gaming and blogging goals for 2013!

  • Great posting and gratz on the site increase. You guys do a super job at putting out great postings and keeping an objective eye. I trust the reviews and your opinions greatly and often I will pick up products solely on a review here. You guys spend a lot of my money for me lol.

    Speak of ME3 I held off playing it but snagged it at 50% off on Origin the other day. I have only played it for a short bit. I figured it was time to see what everyone disliked about the ending. Well actually I already have watched the ending online but wanted to see if the playthrough was okay or not.

  • @Neuronomad: Since you own ME3 I would definitely recommend you play it if you played the first two. While a disappointment in story, playing is fun.

  • I am hoping for a new MMO without dailies…for some reason, every MMO turned out to have dailies at endgame. Even Aion has abandoned their repeatable quests and replaced them with dailies..

    I really miss the old days of vanilla/tbc wow. Tbc had some dailies but wasn’t the most efficient way to go for. There was always some repeatable turn ins along with dailies or dungeons runs. If the new so-called next generation MMOs are based to dailies too, I think I ll stop playing at all and turn back to my console and single player pc games.

    I am waiting for more information about Elder scrolls online, Everquest 3 and Titan. I will also play blade & Soul and Archage once they hit the western market but I am sure it won’t be for very long.

    btw first time I post in your blog but I am reading you long time now. Always interesting articles. Have a nice new year all.

  • Thanks guys for your great game blog! I enjoy reading it and mostly agree with your opinions. Keep up the good work! Greets from holland.

  • Every time you write ‘3 monther’ I think of Allods and die a little inside. Congrats on your success =) Looking forward to your discussions and insights in 2013.

    Also LoL cash shop is still win =P

  • Keen

    Good year of post as usual. What I would like to see perhaps in your part 2 or part 3 is yours and perhaps Graev’s spending breakdowns in games. If your willing to be completely honest it would be interesting to see what a hardcore gamer spends during the year. Others will post there breakdowns in your comments and we can get an idea of trends.

    I dont know if you kept the info but things like monthly fees, cash shops, steam sales, dlcs, vita,gog, online shops, bargain bins, psn,ps3,xbox live, wii etc broken down for a yearly total. Would be cool if you saw a trend up or down from previous years but that’s a bit much. I know this could be scary to actually tally up EVERYTHING from, the year!!!

    I know for myself, it has been a huge decline since i quit mmo gaming. Just dota2 and hon with some steam 5$ sale games is all i do these days.

  • @Skuishe: Allods… RIP. LoL cash shop isn’t bad. DOTA 2’s is better. 😉 <3 Having every hero.

    @Romble: I definitely didn't keep track of mine and I'm sure Graev didn't either. It's way up there, I'm sure, though definitely in decline since both of us have had less money this year to spend on games. I'll try to keep track for 2013 and we can see for the end of the year!

  • I am surprised you did not mention Diablo 3. Love it or hate it, it’s a major title. But no impression at all? Wow, Blizz really screwed that one up then, lol.

  • @Farquaad: D3 was a let down. It wasn’t a terrible game, but it failed to live up to its potential. Blizzard is capable of more.

    @Gringar: I know, right?

  • Blogging stats are funny. If the stars align and something gets picked up, your traffic goes nuts, but rarely does it lead to a sustained viewership. Its the whole ‘going viral’ craze. It makes sense of course; when you have websites that see more traffic in an hour than MMO blogs will see in a year, one link can really blow things up.

  • @SynCaine: That’s web traffic in general. For example, the Diablo 3 post we made (referenced in the thread) brought in almost 500,000 “unique visits” alone. We were getting 60,000 unique visitors per day from it for a while.

    From January 1, 2012 to December 28, 2012 the average number of people who visited our site regularly (sustained viewership)grew. Over the past few months we have sustained at least 53% more unique visitors on a daily basis.

    So not only was our traffic for the year huge (about 3x what it was in 2011 — a stat not particularly useful to us since it doesn’t equate to real readers) but our daily readership increased about 53%. Perhaps due to carry over from people who found us from SEO or from being sent here for other topics.