Hey Mythic?

August 29, 2008

Since you’re not keen on official forums and yet perfectly fine with letting Warhammer Alliance mods take up the slack by providing a forum for you to communicate with players, why don’t you just go ahead and put these mods on the payroll?

Added: Because the more I think about it, the more it gnaws away at me — all of the reasons why Mythic stated they wanted to avoid public forums are pretty much reversed by their over-dependence on WHA’s forums as a method of dev-player communication, except they don’t have to foot the bill for mods or do the dirty work of keeping the posters in line.

I think if Mythic wants their “no official forums” comment to hold water, they should’ve stuck with only the Herald as their official mouthpiece, or created a blog that lets them communicate in a structured way with players.


  1. How, then, does WHA differ from an official forum?

  2. Other than it being volunteer led without pay and without direct influence from Mythic, it really doesn’t. Mythic is using it as their de facto forum, and has been for some time.

  3. Quite brilliant to not have to pay for a community manager to police official forums. They know that the fan sites and community boards would love to take on that job for free, so why not take advantage of that so long as it doesn’t backfire? While I do agree with your post, I don’t know if I can blame them for this tactic. I wouldn’t want the headache either. But again, your point is very valid.

  4. Good, though I think the devs should post on more the just WHA. Why should Mythic pay moderators when there are people willing to do it for free.

  5. Paying mods on an unofficial forum would mean you’re basically inviting all the problems official forums have, only with less control over what’s really going on.

    The advantage of unofficial forums is that their mods can delete content-free complaints and vitriol from the boards with reckless abandon. If Mythic did the same thing it would get people (“I’m a paying customer!”) ten kinds of upset.

  6. I don’t see any problem with them basically making it their unofficial forum. If some troll gets out of hand, and the current mods cut the thread, then no big deal. But if the same person posts on an Official forum, then it’s “fascist Mythic” this and “they must be trying to fool us” that. Overall, the Mythic team has been great at making us see them as people, not just god-like devs, and I think that will help us to see where they’re headed with the game, and help them to stay grounded and listen to player feedback.

  7. Funny thing is – the mods aren’t on the payroll – they can just as easily ‘keep the Devs in line’. However I would think the mods/admins of WHA find just having the Devs frequent their site as enough payment.

  8. The official forum decision really could come back to bite them in the tail end. I don’t know anything about the WHA admins, and I’m sure they’re nice people who support the game. That said, we’ve seen this type of unofficial online community situation cause significant problems both in gaming circles (e.g. the EQ2 Flames debacle) and elsewhere on the internets (e.g. several grassroots supporters of various Presidential candidates this past Primary season).

    There will come a time when Mythic wants the WHA admins to do something that the WHA admins don’t want to do. There are a variety of ways that situation could end, not all of them catastrophic, but all of them avoidable if Mythic would do their own community management for themselves. If they march in and play the “it’s our game, and we have more lawyers than you” card, things can get very ugly.

    How is WHA financed, anyway? They’ve got to be eating a fair chunk of bandwidth. This is precisely the situation that resulted in most of the major WoW database sites being owned by gold farmers (the only people willing to take a loss running them).

  9. Eventually Mythic will launch their own forums and community sites. Especially if it garners anywhere near the attention of World of Warcraft. The choice to stay away from it right now was purely financial, so they didn’t have to spend resource on something that wasn’t receiving any return. When the game is live and they have (let’s say and hope a few million subscribers) they will have the time, money, and necessity to have their own community site.

    Imagine trying to deal with millions of subscribers apart from a very focused and interactive website / forum structure.


  10. Green Armadillo>

    I’m not too worried about that, it seemed to work out pretty well with the vn boards and DAoC back in the day.

  11. Redtigeroh>

    I doubt it. See boatorious’s comment and the WoW official boards for reasons why.

  12. As much as pay from the developers would be nice, turning people into paid employees comes with a price. WHA would in some respects stop being an honest-to-god fansite. If the source of pay is not coming from the developers, that’s fine, but if it’s coming straight from them then there’s legal hoops, information policies, and other things WHA doesn’t currently have to worry about, possibly happening.

    WHA currently takes a balanced approach to opinions – which means negative and positive stuff is allowed as long as it’s productive. I would wonder how or if that would change if Mythic was paying the rental bill.

  13. As long as WHA can cover its expenses with ads or partners, I think a financial independence from Mythic is very good for precisely the reasons others have mentioned: people can’t QQ about what they’re paying for if they’re not paying for it. WHA is pretty ideal for what it is; it’s not nearly as far gone as the WoW forums. =)

  14. They’ll have no choice, WARMs going to have anywhere form 1 to 2 millions subs and I think that with that amount of people playing a game, you need official formus. I don’t think WHA will have the ressources to deal with that. I may be wrong.

  15. You know what would be great? If EA paid them in advertisements…

    Seriously. Buy up as much ad space as it takes to run the forums as a thank you for the kind of service WHA provides for their game and the community.

  16. Green Armadillo,

    Regarding WHA, we keep the site running with our partners at Curse.com. They handle all of our hosting and advertisements. I picked Curse because of their commitment to the community and they ability to make technical sites like the WarDB. Best of all you don’t have to worry about Curse selling out to some gold farmers.

  17. Sites like a WHA are going to make revenue from advertising b/c of their large hit counts and unique # of visitors.

    Also keep in mind WHA is connected to Curse gaming and WARDB. Someone is making money off of this venture, pending what kind of subscriber base WAR has and what kind of success it is.

  18. They are 100% doing the right thing, Syp. The biggest problem with Warcraft’s official forums is that lowly paid Blizzard CMs are constantly putting foot-in-mouth because they have ZERO authority. They are constantly getting attacked over the littlest statements and comments they make are blown entirely out of proportion.

    Blizzard fails horribly at Public Relations simply by virtue of having low-level employees with no real power manage customer expectations. When something is wrong with the game, players demand the company take ownership and responsibility. A Blizzard CM is not only not empowered with such responsibility, they are poorly equipped or knowledgeable to answer valid questions about the actual issue.

    Mark, Paul and the entire Mythic executive team all speak with authority and take on that responsibility and ownership. Of course, since it’s impossible for Mark to act as a forum moderator – someone has to do that job. If it were a Mythic employee, you have the same issue that Blizzard faces. By having a 3rd party handle it, they are presumably more objective and less prone to attack (particularly since they can just ban you permanently if you piss them off).

  19. If the environment over at WHA gets toxic (WoW forums anyone?) they can just move on to somewhere less lame. It’s sad that they have to come up with ways to deal with the utter stupidity of humans in anonymous crowds, but at least it works. Yay for no Blizzard-like cesspool!

  20. One more thing: WHA does get paid by Mythic in a very indirect way.

    Developer comment = More Traffic = More Ad revenue

    The traffic that a Dev can generate in terms of subscribed users and unsubscribed viewers is very significant. This will be particularly true if WAR becomes even remotely as popular as we believe. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of the dev comments to a site like WHA.

    In fact, unofficial forums on other game sites have a history of becoming almost tyrannical about moderating or outright banning any “toxic” posters under the presumption (likely accurate) that devs won’t post on their forums any longer. Can you imagine if a Blizzard CM tried to censor people like that?

    This (and my earlier point about Public Relations) actually makes the “relationship” between WHA and Mythic very complementary. WHA gets the traffic, and Mythic gets the use of a quasi-official forum that it doesn’t have to be moderated by CMs who make egregious Public Relation errors.

  21. I generally am all right with mythic using other people as sites to post their info.. However I don’t really like that fans have to search for this, it would be helpful to find such links or blogs on their actual website. Then we can always use the community forums to mutter about things.

  22. WHA isn’t strictly a charity effort, since it’s owned by Curse who presumably plan to make a few bucks out of the huge number of hits they’ll be getting.

    I wouldn’t spare them too much sympathy.

  23. Official forums are so often used for very unconstructive posts like “nerf class X” and people yelling for “blue” attention to their worries. It gets so messy, and leaves very little room for quality discussions.

    But on the other hand, for being a service company, most mmo-distributors have a very low grade of customer service available. Compare to for example a copmpany that provides you with your phone-services, electiricty or whatever. They all have the decensy to have a customer contact crew that you can phone, at least during business hours, often much later. And there you can leave feedback and ask for compensation over issues you think the comany have done wrong. And you can actually _talk_ to a human being that you know will distribute your thoughts higher up, and that often have the power to effect your issues in some significant ways. I don’t think any MMO-company have got even an email adress to where you can write your questions and be guaranteed an answer.

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