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The NDA is lifted. Just not for us.

August 5, 2008

Some days I can be a crabby old man, sitting in my rocking chair on my front porch, shaking my fists at those cursed hooligans who disturb the peace with their ghetto blasters and hackysack circles. I also might be behind the times. So please forgive me if this seems a bit crotchety.

It’s been pretty well-known that even though we’re still in closed beta, many members of “the press” (i.e. people more important than bloggers who can actually sell ad space) have been invited in. Which I’m fine with. But today I load up the computer to see that GameSpy’s actually blogging about their entire beta experience, which apparently is just hunky dory with Mythic — even though the rest of us are under pain of death and expulsion to keep our lips zipped.

I can’t say “this isn’t fair!” because it’s Mythic’s game and beta, and whatever they decide to do with it is their business. But I can say that it is a bit rotten. A lot of people have been playing beta far longer then “the press”, and many bloggers and sites are working hard to get material ready to post for when the NDA drops. So again, forgive me if I seem annoyed by this, but what made GameSpy — other than their powerful influence on the gaming public and widespread media presence — so much more special that the rules are bent for them and not for us?

I was okay with hands-on articles and experiences, those were supervised by Mythic in special circumstances. But this is closed beta where one group of people get special privileges that they frankly haven’t earned, and the rest of us have to sit and twiddle thumbs. And with no NDA droppage this week, whatever we have planned to share with you guys might well be obsolete after the big boys get finished devouring all the exclusive head startyness.

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44 comments

  1. I noticed that too. The past few days has been…unique.


  2. Hey, what’s wrong with hooligans?


  3. Yeah I don’t understand the whole thing either, but I don’t work at Mythic.

    I also don’t like the whole “lets say news is coming and make them sit around their PC’s and wait for it” thing going on.

    Everytime you turn around it’s being pushed back to the next day and so on and so on. At this rate it will be next month till we get ANY information.


  4. That’s business.

    Gamespy is more important than you. Gamespy is more important than me. More important for what?

    Marketing.

    You ask what makes them more special than us OTHER than their powerful influence on the gaming public?

    The answer is elementary my dear syp; NOTHING. 🙂


  5. I care more about what the Chaoscast crew has to say about WAR then any major game site. Jeff Green is the exception because I love him.


  6. Good job for me I have work tomorrow, so I don’t have to write another whiny post about how I’m bored waiting for news!

    I’m actually beginning to find it funny, is that sick of me?


  7. No NDA drop this week, or next week (as that is when they are making the change).


  8. Doesn’t mean we have to like it, does it?


  9. That’s kinda bullshit. Screw over the fan sites that have been promoting you for a long time while helping the major gaming sites that just talk about you now when you are a big deal.

    Mythic is no different than all these others who care nothing about their real fans. If they did, they’d drop the NDA for all fan sites and would’ve allowed all you guys in the Beta from the start.


  10. They’re not actually going to drop the NDA. That was all a ruse. A joke. A funny that they made. Srsly. If they were serious, would they keep CHANGING THE DATE ON THE PREORDER PAGE BY AN INCREMENT OF ONE EVERY DAY?!

    Check back August 4th! Or maybe 5th!? How about 6? No? Do we like 7? 8? Let’s give 9 and 10 complete amiss and …well ok, we’ll just make it ambiguous “Soon” instead of teasing our fans.


  11. Don’t worry. Many hardcore WAR followers will put much more weight on your words than theirs. (Although I’ll still read both.)


  12. No you don’t have to like it. I believe that the power of some bloggers such as yourself, Keen, and Snaf are underestimated.

    You’d almost have to launch a network to aggregate it all and then maybe they’d give you a shot but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    I find I trust bloggers over game sites, maybe I’m just naive but that’s my preferred source of information.


  13. I guess this means that Mythic doesn’t consider the independent blogging community to be part of the press. I can see no reason why we should believe otherwise. It wreaks of some back room deal to get exclusive content if you ask me.

    But accusations aside, I blog because I like it, like many of you. I blog to give my opinion from my blog, like it or not. I post my own content unedited (that often shows via typos, etc lol) by anyone else, and I get to say whatever I want. If I want to post a video showing how bad a broken game mechanic is, I can do it. I’m not bound by anyone else’s contract or production schedule.

    That said, my goal is not to be able to talk about it first, but to be able to give my take on it. If you happen to like the same things that I do in games, you’ll find it valuable. If not, someone else probably has you covered. I guess that is the price to pay for suffering under the NDA now while others are free to post whatever they want.

    Personally, I’d much rather get my reviews, news and gaming insight from our blogrolls than GameSpot, GameSpy, Massively, or any other media outlet. So they can have their exclusive beta blogging rights, I probably have little value in it anyway as there is no telling what forces influence the wording, layout and tone of their content.


  14. Allowing the “press” to break the NDA while holding it over the heads of players is lame. And if Gamespy is the only “press” that’s allowed to break the NDA, then that’s ultra lame. Not to mention makes me think of possible “you scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours” type shenanigans. We’ll let you have an exclusive monopoly to information, you say nice things.


  15. The strange and wonderful thing about MMORPGs is that even though they’re funded by big, awful institutions with big, awful ideas about marketing and other non-fun-things, after a spell we get to establish some weird sort of ownership over them. We spend months of our lives in their little worlds and even though we know that they’re not OURS, they still kinda are.

    There’s probably a good analogy with real life here; big organizations, the US Gubment, the UN, the Illuminati, what the heck ever, seem hell-bent on ruining our fun because they’re by definition killjoys. So we, as consumers of their reality, sometimes play by their rules and sometimes don’t. We pay our taxes ($15/month) but we don’t have to like them or respect ALL of their rules. Yeah, I pay for your police, but I still occasionally speed and you don’t catch me. Get bent. Stick it to the man. All that.

    That’s why I appreciate certain sites that spoon out liberal amounts of Beta Leaks. It’s a weird freedom issue. It’s telling EA, “Hey, yeah, you own the world, fine, but we make it run.”

    It’s all very strange and pleasing, from a political point of view.

    I’m probably overthinking this. Ohwell.

    Let EA have their Big Media Buddies spoon out little slices of reality. In the end, it won’t really matter. It’s our world. Kinda. And there’s plenty of information out there for those that want to know.


  16. I would much rather have info from Syp than Gamespy (they can’t even get names right).

    On the EA side, there are a lot of bloggers, how do you work with them all in a controlled manner? Where do you draw the line? Yada Yada

    In any case, what Mark said today just discounted any actually interesting news for at least 2 weeks. What a shame, I had a lot of praise for mythic, prior to the City/class cut. Ever since then we have gotten didly.


  17. I think the most fair thing to do would be to let the big dogs have exclusive articles on certain features, but to drop the NDA for them to report on whatever they liked at the same time as the rest of us. As it is right now, I doubt they have much in the way of limitations on what they can and can’t say.


  18. You could always stop being free advertising for them? 😉


  19. Do you realize what a huge job you have? And by “you” I mean a blogger who has been in the closed beta?

    When that mofo drops, we will be awaiting screenshots, videos and a complete description of every single aspect of the game.

    Not that that puts any pressure on you. . . .


  20. Well, with the NDA still in place it just means that our fellow bloggers who are in the beta must still bite their tongues. We at least have a place to scrape up bits of data from behind the curtain now…even if it is pukey Gamespy.

    Nothing really big yet. Just details about some of the dungeons. But it’s something.


  21. Remember IGN got a pack of Beta Invites at E308 too. Who else do you think we will see reporting from behind the NDA lines? I attempted to expand on this but ended trailing off to a concern of mine. My new WAR blog/post, just created. http://omgompers.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for the read syp. Stand back and don’t fret because this week will be a large teaser show imo.


  22. Yeah, that’s some steaming bullshit if you ask me, but it’s not completely unexpected given the corporate nature of the gimmick.

    One day, bloggers will be considered as “press,” but I guess EA/Mythic has archaic views on the matter.

    Look at a guy like Michael Arrington and tell me he isn’t the largest tech news source out there. Not that I’m comparing myself or anyone here to the massive traffic and popularity TechCrunch has, but I think some of us can be considered the TC’s of WAR. I say that as humbly as I can.


  23. Well at least the Gamespy info is something of a bone for those of us not in beta. I just hate that they are downplaying that the info is in the JULY newsletter and that it is now AUGUST 5th.


  24. Marketing is unfortunately rarely about loyalty but more about potential reach. There will always be a Gamespy/IGN to scoop the little guy.


  25. so..why not go ahead an publish what you got then ? I’m sure the community will back you.


  26. Gamespy have missed the mark by a wide margin on a number of games and I have little faith in their reviews given limited time in BeTA.

    Mythic seem to be missing the point currently, the WaR blogs are drumming up masses of interest in the game and thier views will be valued more than the Big sites… if Gamespy etc rave about the game and the bloggers all contradict thier views who do Mythic think people will listen to ? Underestimating the power of blogs is a foolish thing to do.

    I guess its all academic anywway as we know that the game will get good press… damned NDA


  27. That was an evil title figuring this is the first WAR site on my list to check ;).


  28. Sorry, I’m going to be the dissenting opinion here.

    The difference between Gamespy and this blog is that Gamespy has some accountability in the form of *gasp* depending on advertising.

    So Mythic can go to them and say “OK, you can blog about your beta experience but there’s still an embargo on Features X, Y & Z.” And Gamespy will respect that embargo because if they piss off EA, EA can pull all their advertising.

    If Mythic pitched the same deal to this blog and Syp decided not to respect the embargo, what is EA going to do? There’s no recourse.

    And if Syp gets the NDA lifted, does that mean every blogger gets it lifted? And if that’s the case, then what defines a Warhammer Blogger? Who makes that call? Who doesn’t have a blog?

    This is a way for EA to safely trickle out a little more hype. Marketing is 1 part science, 2 parts art.

    If the blog-space is really so angry about this, the smartest thing to do is to remove your blogs. Take away all that ‘free marketing’ until you get the NDA lifted. Use the leverage you have.


  29. If I were a journalist I’d like to ask Jacobs if EAmythic accepted any money from gamespy for special access.


  30. Pete, could you please flush out this idea that Advertising Money = Journalistic Integrity? Or are you not claiming that? If not, then what does “accountability” mean in that context?


  31. I agree that the NDA should apply equally to everyone, press or not.

    The other thing that people are not mentioning is a professional journalist vs. someone who does it for a hobby.

    Not to say that automatically makes one better than the other, not in any case. But when it is your job to review and write about hundreds of games, once can assume that it gives the professional a bit of an edge i having their opinion heard.


  32. “Pete, could you please flush out this idea that Advertising Money = Journalistic Integrity? Or are you not claiming that? ”

    Sure thing. First a little background. I’ve worked at a bunch of magazines, and still do. Both as an editor, but these days on the technical side of things. I’m keenly aware of issues of “church & state” and keeping Editorial and Sales as separate entities. In all the mags I’ve worked for they were actually physically separated as well.

    But at the top of the Org Chart sits the Publisher, and the publisher has to care about both Sales/Advertising and Editorial. After all, the publication needs to make money.

    So in my (hypothetical) example, Mythic tells Gamespy “You can report on beta as long as you keep these aspects off-the-record.” and Gamespy accepts (they could also opt not to accept those terms, but had they done so we wouldn’t be having this discussion). So far no foul, right? Reporters are told things “off the record” or given “embargoed info” all the time.

    Now even though Joe Editor at Gamespy doesn’t care about sales and stays on the other end of the building, he is aware that breaking his agreement is going to have repercussions, yes? If EA gets pissed and contacts the Publisher to tell them they’re killing an ad campaign, and Publisher comes running in to Joe Editor and says “Did you accept an agreement and renege on it, thus costing us a $50 advertising campaign?” and Joe has to say “Yeah, I gave my word and then broke it.” then Joe probably is going to be out of work. So Joe has both his own personal journalistic integrity, plus the added influence of wanting to keep his job, to help him keep to his word.

    That’s what I mean by accountability. And really you don’t even have to bring ad revenue into it, because even without that aspect, Joe Editor covers more than just War, and the next time he wants to do a preview of an EA title he might just get the cold shoulder.

    Compare that with a 1-man blogging operation who is covering the game for the love of it. EA has no ‘leverage’ with such a person. The blog isn’t feeding the blogger’s kids or paying his mortgage. He doesn’t have an on-going relationship with EA. He is, from a marketing person’s point-of-view, a risk. The marketing person just has to count on the blogger having personal integrity, with no ‘back up’ reasons for sticking to an agreement.

    Don’t take all this and use it to suggest I’m questioning Syp’s integrity, because I’m not, not in the least. We all know he’s an up-front guy and would stick to any arrangement he made in order to break NDA and start covering the game.

    But he is one blog. If EA were to offer a conditional NDA-breaking arrangement to bloggers, they’d have dozens (maybe 100’s, as suddenly bloggers came out of the woodwork) of individuals to keep track of.

    Of course, they must do that now to be sure no one breaks the NDA, which kind of undermines this whole theory. Does anyone know what happens to bloggers that break the NDA?


  33. Ha, I said $50 ad campaign. I meant $50K.

    Anyway I hope that long-winded post made it more clear what I meant.


  34. I also was a little miffed by this.


  35. “He doesn’t have an on-going relationship with EA. He is, from a marketing person’s point-of-view, a risk.”

    And this, in a nutshell, is why marketing is evil. When I spoke of “journalistic integrity” I meant, oh, y’know, Speaking Truths. Not Abiding By Contractually Obligated Non Disclosure Agreements At The Peril Of Losing Your Apartment.

    But there are sites out there that are overflowing with BetaLeaks. And have been. For months. And most people who want to know details already know details. I come here because I like Syp’s writing. Not because he’s going to break any news that hasn’t already been broken. (With videos and screencaps.)


  36. And while I’m being pissy, let me add one thing:

    It’s people like you, Paul S., that ruin the world. And I’m using an extraordinary amount of restraint here so as to not befowl Syp’s lovely blog, but the things you’re saying make me almost physically sick.

    I’m going to knowingly delve into the realm of the Completely Out Of Touch With Reality Idealist here, but as I sort of alluded to in an earlier post, while Warhammer might well be EA’s “property” in that they “own” it, that “property” is of absolutely NO value without the user. A MMORPG consisting completely of Marketing Executives and Paid Big Media Shills would not only be completely depressing and joyless, but would also by definition NOT be a MMORPG.

    I know this is a pretty “ridiculous” theoretical leap to someone with a brain soiled with a marketing background, but even though EA might be pulling the strings, the world itself is not theirs. The GAME is the PEOPLE and without the PEOPLE the GAME doesn’t exist. Especially in a game with such a heavy emphasis on PVP.

    You’re quite obviously not a gamer – at least not in any important sense – but I’m going to use a gaming analogy here. Even though Steve Jackson Games may own GURPS, the beauty of the game doesn’t come purely from the rules laid out by the company that made the product. A full night of hillarious, enthused, joyful gaming happens because friends are sharing time together and exploring a new, shared pseudo-reality. Steve Jackson prints the rulesets, but the magic – THE LOVE – has only the slightest of connections to the Product.

    No, it’s not public domain, yes they’re getting their little paltry sum so that we can play in their sandbox, but to think that they could exist without the hundreds of thousands of Syps out there is not only laughable but is, frankly, insulting.

    And to let such a wretched, loveless, joyless, soulless piece of shiny crap as Gamespy get the scoop on the people who REALLY make the game is a joke. Pure and simple.


  37. Those are some valid points Pete, but at the same time, anyone looking for beta information knows where to get it. And do you know what Mythic’s response to these sites have been? Well, it wasn’t to try shut them down, that’s for sure. Most leakers are actually giving positive reviews of this game in more depth than you’d find in any magazine, e-zine, or blog. Mythic WANTS them to continue leaking…

    And as for the integrity and risk/trust. Several WAR bloggers are in beta atm and none of us have broken the NDA because we value our account status. If we were to leak, chances are we’d lose that spot, and that’s all the incentive we need. If Mythic were to give us the same offer with restrictions on feature X, Y, and Z, I’m sure we’d respect it as much as we’re currently respecting the NDA.


  38. I don’t think Pete is trying to make the argument that this is somehow fair. It’s definitely about accountability.

    In corporations, shite rolls downhill. If you give Gamespy license to break NDA, with certain exceptions, if a Gamespy blogger goes beyond those limits, there’s someone to blame. Covering yer butt and having someone to blame is an unfortunate fact of life in big corps. I don’t like it, it’s not fair, I wish it were different, but it’s not.

    I’m not disagreeing with Snafzg. I happen to agree with him, and his counter to Pete’s accountability post makes sense to me. However, I’m an individual, not a corporation, and decisions get made differently and often don’t make sense outside the Corporate Stupid Bubble.


  39. Maolrubha, touche. You fooled me into thinking you really wanted a discussion, not just a target for you to rant at. Thanks for assuming you know all about my value, or lack thereof, to the world based on a comment on a gaming blog, though. That shows amazing insight. Because games are more important than anything else I might do to help people, obviously.

    For the record, I am not in marketing, have never been in marketing. I have, however, been Associate Editor of a gaming magazine (Strategy Plus, if you remember it) so I’ve had to deal with a lot of marketing types from an editorial point of view.

    It’s just part of the magazine (online or off) business that some information is offered conditionally. As the editor/author, you decide to turn down the deal, or accept it. I’m sure you hate 1Up but just recently they shared a story of some company offering them to cover a product early as long as they didn’t talk about 1 aspect of it (I believe it was multiplayer..this wasn’t an MMO). In that case, they refused the deal and waited until they could address the entire product. I submit this just as evidence that this kind of ‘deal’ does occur.

    Anyway Warhammer is a business product with a lot of money at stake and I can understand the thinking that might have gone on in the minds of the marketing team. That’s all I’m saying.

    If you feel so strongly about the issue, why not cancel your pre-order and send Mythic a letter stated that you don’t agree with their marketing policies and so you won’t be supporting them?

    Snafzg, thanks for the civil response. I’m in the beta too, and my choice was just not to mention WAR at all on my blog; were I to do so the posts would definitely be positive. 🙂

    And thanks even more for pointing out that blogs are leaking NDA-stuff and Mythic isn’t doing anything to stop them; that shoots a lot of holes in my argument and pretty much invalidates it. So now I’m curious.

    I can understand Mythic wanted to control the flow of info still. Because you know that somewhere out there is a WOW fanboy just chomping at the bit to trash WAR as soon as he can, based on…well, nothing but his fanboyism. I wonder if a blogger broke the NDA to trash WAR, if they’d yank his access.


  40. Syp’s right. I shouldn’t say mean things.

    In the spirit of this new paradigm, I am going to agree with you what you’ve just said, Pete. Your posts are invalid and full of holes.


  41. […] you) but then I thought maybe that wasn’t a very productive topic. I’m never going to change the minds of haters (who can’t even manage to get my name right) and the internet is a big place, so best to just […]


  42. wow.
    crymore?


  43. Pete, I’ve enjoyed reading your comments here. Time to add another blog to the reader.


  44. so where does one go for the beta leaked info then ? I guess I’m not in the kool crowd or something ’cause i never got to see this big kids room with its stash of Victoria Secret ad cut outs, vintage porn and the occasional frog in a jar.



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