Massively. SOE. What A Week!


What a week this has been.

Last week we learned that AOL is doing the evil overlord thing and shutting down its specialist (boutique?) web properties, Joystick, WoW Insider, and Massively. I know that not everyone liked Massively, and while some are rejoicing in it’s downfall (bad form considering people are losing their jobs), others are genuinely sorry that another source of MMO news is disappearing. I hope the writers are able to get together and get something else off the ground.

That leaves MMORPG and Ten Ton Hammer as the only other major MMO sites (on my feed.) Neither of which make it easy to read, or even to get to from the feed. (Yes. I’m still one of those who use a feed reader, despite Google mandating my obsolescence.)

While I’m one of those who is sorry to see Massively go, I can’t help but think that this is what major companies do, especially to lines of business that have niche appeal. Niche’s tend to be small profit centers, if profitable at all, and big companies aren’t interested in small profits. They need big profits. And while you or I might think that anything that makes a business money is a good thing, the suits in a big company don’t see it that way. Everything needs to be maxxed out. You might say that big business are the original min-maxxers.

I’m also wondering what the future holds for other AOL websites like TechCrunch. Are they safe? Too big to kill?

And then this morning, more big news in my feed. SOE have been sold to an investment group not associated with the gaming industry. More schadenfreude (sigh.) And some interesting commentary from Wilhelm who has also seen his fair share of acquisition results.

How do you say that you’re surprised by an announcement, but are not really that surprised at all?

Sony, the big company, have been struggling on recent years. Their revenues are substantially down, and a number of areas of their business have been under-performing. Over the last years I have read a number of articles speculating that they’ll be selling bits of their business. I think they even recently divested their PC business. So that they’ve sold off SOE doesn’t surprise me. But considering we’ve heard no speculation at all that SOE was in danger of being sold, well that surprises me.

Wilhelms blog post does raise some concerns though.

Investment companies are as bad as big companies when it comes to profits and line items. After all, they are concerned with making as much profit as possible for their investors. They’re not worried about providing entertainment. Just the green. It’s in the name people.

So what does this mean for games like Everquest?

Does EQ make enough to warrant keeping it alive, or will it be one of those line items that some dude in a suit will be hovering his red pen over, ready to strike out?

What about Landmark? Everquest Next? Cancelled or rushed out, too early?

Only time will tell I guess.

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