Posted in General

Goodbye Massively

teamBy now all of you have heard that AOL has shuttered practically every one of their weblogs, save a couple that are their dear babies.  That means no more Joystiq, no more WoW Insider, and no more Massively.

We weren’t even going to find out until last Friday, as AOL was simply going to send all of us an email informing us of the fact the day of our termination.  Fortunately, some sleuthing by Joystiq’s EIC got an admission that this was coming and that there was nothing to be done about it.  It had nothing to do with whether or not we were making money (we were) but that some exec far up the pipe decided that AOL no longer wanted to be in the enthusiast blogging business — and that was that.  We have no one to appeal to, and since we’re contractors, AOL doesn’t even give us the time of day.  We’re nobodies to them.

So we found out last Monday, which immediately caused our work process to crash to the ground.  We were strictly advised to not say a word about this to anyone, because there was our January pay at stake, not to mention the slight possibility of severence.  And we were worried that AOL would kill the site before the end of the week if we blabbed, which would end any chance to say goodbye and get out our final columns.

While Massively’s been great to me, we’ve always operated on a shoestring budget and under the uncaring attitude of AOL.  I cannot stress enough how little we mattered to that company.  It got bad last year when some yahoo exec who never talked to us decided to unilaterally slash half of our meager budget (and Joystiq’s, and WoW Insider’s) for no good reason — heck, we were doing gangbuster numbers and reportedly ad sales were great.  So in early 2014, we had to suck it up and move forward, and that meant firing half of the team on the spot — including really, really talented writers — and the rest of us taking huge pay cuts while having to work MORE than before.

And let me tell you, we worked our BUTTS off over this past year to not only keep the site going, but to prove to AOL that we could be just as viable as ever.  Even with half of our budget gone, our numbers did not nearly drop as much to reflect that, and that was a victory in and of itself.  But then AOL kept being a tool, and it fired the human sales team who was in charge of getting ad revenue (a process that was entirely divorced from the writing/editorial staff so that we were not influenced one way or the other) with an automated system that couldn’t sell half as well.

And finally, we get canned on the last day of the month with no corporate advance notice and no sympathy.  To them, Massively was a line item that wasn’t worth their interest.  To us, it was a passionate project that we poured our hearts into.

Let me say that it was a truly horrible week, all the more that the rumors leaked out and we couldn’t say word one about it.  It was immensely gratifying to see support come in through a variety of statements, however, and we spent the days in our office chat room pasting those statements to each other as we mourned.

When Bree broke the news last Friday (officially), it was like a tidal wave of encouragement hit us in the comments, email, and Twitter.  Reading the stories of how the site and the podcast actually helped people in tough times and meant a lot to them was so very touching.

I’ve been going through a whole process this past week.  Shock, definitely.  Immense sadness.  Some anger.  And deep love for my family and friends who saw me hurting and picked me up.

I think my first big reaction to the news was: No, I don’t want to stop writing!  There’s so much left I want to say and do and see with the Massively team.  Getting to cover MMO news and subjects with your friends is an experience I think I’ll never have again.  It was a rush being part of the media and getting to interview devs and follow these stories.

I’m really bummed that there won’t be a Massively any more, because (and I am totally biased) there aren’t any other sites out there like this one.  We weren’t selling out the way that I’ve seen other news sites do and we gave as much love to smaller and older MMOs as we did the “easy hits” big titles.  I don’t know where I’m going to go for my news any more, because like most of our readers, I depended on Massively to keep me informed.

But I’ve had time to digest it, talk it out with the team, and use my wife as a sounding board.  I know that in the past I’ve had a lot of problems letting go of things when change was coming, and I didn’t want to do that now.  I had a GREAT five years at that site, and both learned so much and enjoyed it thoroughly.  What we did for our readers and the MMO industry is something that I can be proud of, and I made a lot of terrific friendships along the way.

And as a Christian, I have to live according to God’s will for my life and not my own.  If it’s His will that I move on, then I will be sad, but I’ll be content that it’s what needs to happen for His glory and purpose.

So what’s next?  I don’t know, to be honest.  My priorities are my family and my job as a youth pastor, as it should be.  Past that, I’ll certainly keep blogging here at Bio Break (probably more than before!) and keep doing the Battle Bards podcast.  There’s been some talk of the ex-Massively team doing a collaborative blog effort, so if that comes about you’ll see me there as well.  Bree and I will also be continuing the Massively Speaking podcast on a (hopefully) weekly basis.

Finally, I want to thank those who have expressed support and love over the past week.  I know that not everyone liked Massively and probably disagreed with us from time to time (as is inevitable), but the encouragement that I saw recently was overwhelming.  It wasn’t just a job; it was a passion and a love and something we truly did because we love MMOs and wanted to build up the internet community through information and opinion.

Special thanks to Braxwolf, Battle Priestess, Party Business (and another one!), Healing the Masses, Tales of the Aggronaut (and another one!), The Mystical Mesmer, Clean Casuals, Endgame Viable, GamingSF, Leo’s Life, Inventory Full, The Cynic Dialogues, Herding Cats, TAGN, Games and Geekery, MMO Gypsy, Professor Beej, and Alt:Chat for their supportive posts!

34 thoughts on “Goodbye Massively

  1. Aw man… I’m trying not to tear up at the office reading this post. I really feel for you and all the talented writers who worked so hard, under such circumstances, and never let it reflect in what you produced on Massively. It really, really sucks how underappreciated you all were under AOL – I kinda got that feeling – and yet you strove to create something wonderful for the love of games and the gaming community.

    My hats off to all of you! I know you’ll keep us posted if some kind of collaboration comes about. If it does, I’ll be one of the first reading it! 🙂

    Keeping you in my prayers! As one door closes… it’s never easy… but look for that other door opening. We’re all being guided to greater things, it’s just hard to see when you’re in the midst of the storm.

  2. Big internet hugs to you and the rest of the Massively family. I shall continue to listen to Battle Bards and hopefully Massively Speaking for as long as you enjoy to put them out.
    May the Lord bless you in whatever future He leads you on to.

  3. Massively provided a useful service to the community and I am sorry to see it go. Having worked as a contractor in several industries, I am fully aware of the caprices and whims of senior management. It’s comes with the territory but that doesn’t make it any easier when you find yourself on the wrong end of a bum deal.

    However I am a firm believer that true talent does prevail, so I am sure that new opportunities will present themselves Syp. So keep writing and channelling your passion and a year from now, you’ll be sitting in a swivel chair, stroking a white cat in your volcano lair 🙂

    Tread boldly.

  4. We love you man. I am still just enraged when I think about this. I really don’t have much to add to the conversation, that is meaningful in any way. if there is anything I can do to help… ever… just let me know. Until then I will continue to read Bio Break and watch the skies to see what you are up to… well keep listening to Battle Bards.

  5. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Perhaps another, more sensitive investor will appear. Perhaps going independent is what you all need. Or perhaps it is simply time to move on. Who really knows at this point. I hope the site moves on, as I’m sure (almost) all of us would miss it otherwise.

    And I will continue listening to Massively Speaking and Battle Bards. I’ll be one of those for whom they’ve kept me sane. Long distance car journeys, during job loss due to mental breakdown, company on trips to doctors. For that, though I don’t think we’ve ever really spoken, you’ll always be dear to me. And NOW I’m crying. Darnit, Syp.

  6. If only AOL had been as willing to let me go when I tried to drop them as my ISP all those years ago…

    Good fortune and fair winds to all the Massively staff and I do hope you get some kind of collective platform going in the future. Until then I’ll just keep on reading Bio Break and trying to figure out where I go for MMO news now.

  7. No one can take away the passion that defined the work you did, why you did it, and why it resonated in the MMO community. You’ll carry that into whatever you venture into next, as will the friendships you’ve built. Endings like this suck, when you know you are doing good work, but I hope that is a comfort as much as a frustration. Best of luck to all of you!

  8. I’ve said this a lot lately, but thanks all for the very kind words. We have a wonderful blogging community here and I appreciate the support. I’m pretty content and upbeat right now, so no depressing Syp going forward!

  9. Very sad to see Massively go, it was clear that you all cared deeply about what you were doing. Awesome to hear you’re going to try to keep up the podcast though.. it’s one of my favorites. Good luck to you and all the others in whatever you end up doing.

  10. While I’m saddened by the loss of Massively, I’m encouraged by how you are facing it. I don’t know you personally but the glimpses I get of your character here and there through your work are inspiring.

    Good luck in whatever direction the Lord takes you. You’re a talented writer and a hard worker, you’re going to succeed at whatever you do. I’ll certainly still be checking Bio Break on a daily basis.

  11. Reading this made me sad. I have literally never found a site that covered things the way Massively did. I loved how you covered everything worth covering, I loved the streams, and I read pretty much every column that was put up. I’m really, really, hoping that you guys do create a site after tomorrow. I so hope so as I have no where to get my multi daily fix (I read Massively multiple times through out the day). Good luck I’m following the Massively team to see where you go!

  12. I will miss Massively very much, and I will keep an eye out for any news of future projects. I’m glad to know the podcast is still going on, it’s one of the ones I look forward to the most each week.

    You and the rest of the team at Massively can hold onto the fact that all the experience and improved writing/editing skills you gained over the years are not something that AOL can take away from you. That is yours to build on and take to new opportunities. Talent and skill doesn’t just stop when a job ends. You have a lot to offer and I feel sure that we’ll be hearing from you all in the future.

  13. Because it’s so largely sentimental, it’s hard not to feel depressed about what happened. Having a group that you’ve toiled mercilessly with, triumphed with, shared your feelings, your thoughts, and yourself with and losing all of that in a muffled cry; then sharing that loss with us so we know what you’re going through.

    All I can say is thank you.

    Opportunities will always follow for those who work hard.
    90% hard work + 10% opportunity = lasting success

  14. Massively was a huge inspiration to me as a writer, a blogger, and a journalist. Perhaps it’s foolish, but I’d always nursed the dream of one day being good enough to join the Massively team.

    Now, of course, I have to finally let that dream go.

    Bleh, this is just bumming me out no end.

  15. For all its foibles, Massively was still my favorite MMO news site, in large part because of talented and passionate writers like yourself. I’ll miss it.

  16. Very sad to see Massively go, but especially you, Justin, as you really were my favourite writer among a bunch of also extremely talented people. 😦
    I’ve already said what I had to say in Massively’s columns, so I will just ask you to let us know how you expect to bounce back. I’m one of the people ready to support any initiative financially, via crowfunding for instance, but I don’t know if such an option is financially sustainable for you and the others in the team, especially in the long term. Well, I suppose we’ll see. Just let us know…

  17. I was so sad to heard they were closing, and genuinely angry when I heard about the crappy way they did it. I’m slightly less biased, and I agree that there’s nothing out there quite like Massively, and I too am not really sure where I’m going to go for my main source for MMO news.
    I’d like you to know that you and this blog are basically the single reason I got in to blogging (years after it was out of style… my friends still make fun of me for having a blog that only a handful of people read). You’re a great writer, very entertaining to read, and I’m sure you’d be a great asset to any news outlet, MMO or otherwise.
    I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just say that I’ll be praying for you and your former coworkers as you go through this process of change. Like you said, God knows what he’s doing even when you don’t.

  18. I know that I definitely didn’t appreciate Massively until the news that it would close. I am sad that you and your colleagues were treated so badly for all the great work that you did, and I hope that you all land on your feet.

  19. I am truly sad to hear this news. Massively was a fantastic site run by passionate and hard-working gaming enthusiasts. I will miss reading all the interesting stories and even the weird and wonderful comments that followed. I hope that something greater will come of this, with no corporate shenanigans weighing it down! Best of luck to you Syp, and all the massively faithful!

  20. Your and Bree’s podcast on massively was my favourite one.
    You seemed to have a chemistry that’s hard to find in today’s oversaturated world of “game journalism”. It was my “Shire Radio” while playing LotrO.
    I really hope you can continue it soon
    All the best!

  21. Massively was great for picking up all the press releases and mmo developments of the day in a single page (or even less). The competitive sites are just too cluttered and user unfriendly. If you ever decide to follow through with a new Massively-styled news site, you know people will just flock to it.

    In any case, thanks for all the fish o/

  22. Justin I’m gonna miss Massively tons, but hope that a collaboration can happen. I suspect that you will be able to take it to new heights! From a former Massively Fantatic

  23. I have tried a few times now to sit down and write about this terrible situation, but words still escape me. I can’t even begin to imagine how you guys are feeling! Hopefully something good can come from this. The MMOsphere just won’t be the same.

    All the best for the future.

  24. Even though Battle Bards, Bio Break, and Massively speaking are continuing, I just wanted you to know, man, that you’re probably the biggest blogging influence of anyone I’ve ever had. Since I started doing this in 2008 at Professor Beej, I’ve wanted to emulate the positive, wonderful feel you have in your writing and the way you build a community. It sucks that won’t be at Massively anymore, but you rock at what you do, dude. Just keep that in mind when the feels hit. 🙂

  25. This news broke my heart, but I just found this site via your latest post. I hope you continue to write great pieces on the MMO world and, also, I sincerely hope the Massively crew bands up to create a new website. I honestly don’t know of any other MMO site that compared to Massively.

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