It’s Official: Massively Is Shutting Down


I owe a lot to Massively and the Joystiq network, seeing as they are one of the bigger news websites to regularly share my content with a wider audience, so it’s sad to see that they will be shutting down on February 3rd. With the small number of mainstream MMO news websites, Massively was the top source for news for myself and likely many of you. It was nice to see a big company like AOL funding the Joystiq network.

The decision, it appears, came from the top echelon of AOL.

We all suspected this was coming eventually a year ago when a VP whose name I don’t even know and who never read our site chose to reward our staggering, hard-won 40% year-over-year page view growth by… hacking our budget in half.

The post hints at the possibility of the Massively team striking out and self-funding their next endeavor. We wish them the best of luck, and by we I mean me.

(Source: Massively)

Square Enix Lays Off At Los Angeles Studio


Square Enix has confirmed to that the company’s Los Angeles studios has been hit with a number of layoffs. According to Square, however, none of the company’s existing MMOs have been impacted at all.

In order to ensure it is operating effectively, the Square Enix Los Angeles office has reduced its workforce. This was a difficult decision and we wish the best for those affected by these changes. The decision will not have any impact on the operations of MMO titles. Customers can expect those services to continue, including the upcoming launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

We wish the best for those affected by the layoffs, and hope that they find quick employment.

(Source: Massively)

Buy $20 Mercenary Pack, Get DUST 514 Beta Access

Earlier this year, CCP announced that the initial cover charge for DUST 514 would be removed in favor of simply making the game free with a cash shop. Now, if you are like me and bought a $20 Playstation Network card in advance, you are not entirely out of luck. In a CCP press release today, the company has announced the release of a $19.99 Mercenary Pack.

The pack contains a number of goodies: guns, grenades, xp boosters, etc, but what it also includes is guaranteed beta access to DUST 514. While regular key holders will only be able to play during beta weekends, Mercenary Pack holders will have more opportunities to get in and start shooting.

The Mercenary Pack is $20 on the Playstation Store.

(Source: Massively)

A Live Community Is A Happy Community

Han Solo works Black Fridays in the electronics section of Best Buy.

Massively has an excellent interview with Lydia Pope, community manager at Sony Online Entertainment overlooking Star Wars Galaxies. Despite all of the rage one might find toward the aging Star Wars MMO, those who do play the game are just as involved as those who played in years past. So much so, in fact, that Lydia feels strongly enough to say that Star Wars Galaxies has one of the most active communities on Sony Online Entertainment’s list of MMOs. With the GM-run events, players are still coming out in droves to run their own events.

But why does Star Wars Galaxies have such an active community? Lydia believes it is partially due to the game’s built-in social aspects. Player owned houses, hubs, emotes, the Galactic Senate, etc, allow a level of interactivity between players and between GM’s that other games just don’t offer. In fact, Lydia explains that community leaders are not an appropriate answer to better feedback.

“[In] our other games, where we have community leaders, we don’t get that in-depth with the feedback.”

An active community is a happy community, and can really boost morale to a game. Back in the times of Ultima Online, players may remember Richard Garriot running around as Lord British (alongside Lord Blackthorn), and then years later as General British during Tabula Rasa’s short reign. Say what you want about the guy, but it is nice to be able to post on the Alganon forums and get a response from CEO Derek Smart and other devs. Some of you who played The Matrix Online will remember the events that took place in that game as well.

Of course, if you hadn’t noticed from my listing of Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online, an active community does not a healthy game make alone. It does, however, increase the odds of someone sticking around who may have become bored and quit early on.

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