The Queue: Watching Blizzard, and then some
We’ll talk some business, we’ll talk some WoW, we’ll Queue.
Q4TQ: Ignoring all of Jaina’s actions as well as Stormheim’s opening scenario, what events in WoW’s story are more divise about who was in the right and who was in the wrong?
I think this is interesting, and brings up two points.
First, WoW’s storyline between the Alliance and Horde had significant points where a reasonable person could see either side as being right or wrong. This is (or rather, was) one of the major selling points of the game early on to me. You’d get a different perspective on what the final events were, and learned that while reality is fixed, the perception, or truth, of reality is defined by those who hold the power. People would legitimately, and intellectually, debate which side was correct. I’ve seen this kind of deep analysis fall more and more to the wayside over the years, however. There have been bright spots though — and I am not saying the writing in WoW has gotten worse (I think it’s improved and matured a fair bit, actually); but I do think the “both sides have good points” argument has lost its nuance and is now a much more blunt object.
Second, remember that once upon a time Garrosh wasn’t really the worst thing in the world. There was not consensus around his behavior. Rather famously we published an article back around 2011 saying “Garrosh was right,” and it set off a firestorm. This was when his actions were not blatantly destructive and evil. A good debate ensued (although of course there were those that wanted the author fired … which (s)he wasn’t). On that note I can’t remember who wrote it either, and I don’t want to name a name; people will just harass that person.
I am really interested to see more of these stories come about though. I want more moral ambiguity, more gray. Whether we like it or not, we live in that kind of world, and I find the introspection that fiction brings about incredibly helpful at processing the world of the real.
Off Topic has been going on for a bit now, is it helping the site? are you going to keep doing it?
Yes and yes.
There’s been a bunch of changes internally we’ve made that have lead to more content, including Off Topic content. This overall has increased our pageviews by a bit, and we’re seeing some initial returns from Google as well. I’d expect those to continue for a while before leveling off, at which point we’ll make another round of changes (although they’ll be to the design of the site).
I need to be very careful here because I’m juggling three competing factors:
- A pivot in business operations
- Changes to our content amount and type
- Changes to our technical end
On the business operations side, I don’t want to say too much since some of it is rightly sensitive. The stuff I can share is that I’m continuing to run Blizzard Watch with slim profit margins (or none) and pushing most/all of the money back out to the writers. I have a well paying day job, so I don’t usually take anything from the coffers — the honor of the site is enough for me, and I don’t need-need the money. Not that I’m rich or anything (my god I’m not), but I also know my own comfort level.
Another thing I will say is that I cut our server costs in half this month thanks to some new caching and moving around things in a smarter way, and I’m really happy about that. Even though my day job is in tech, I work in leadership and don’t get to mess around and get dirty with things. So that was really fun and rewarding.
On the content side, we’re seeing more WoW/Blizzard content come out, and more Off Topic content. This is great and I’m super proud of everyone. We have a pretty solid line from “more content” to “more traffic” to “more money,” so it’s really cool to see this start off in an amazing way. The reception to the content has been pretty good, too.
On the technical side, I made significant changes to our AMP pages, mobile site, and other things that will majorly impact SEO. Google rewarded us the next day with more than double the referrals. This is in part due to some popular articles, but at the same time, those popular articles were also made popular by Google itself… so… it’s too early to tell, but my fingers are crossed here.
All that said, the reason I need to be careful is that I can’t change any more variables in the business right now. That goes across the board in every aspect. I am a data-driven decision maker through and through. I credit that mindset to keeping Blizzard Watch successful — and I’ll note that Liz is very much the same way. Once things have settled down and these variables are solidified, I’ll be releasing an updated site in bits and pieces. There was a time when this was going to happen with a grand unveiling, however, I trashed that plan in exchange for incremental improvements and less overall disruption.
One thing that might make it live this weekend though is a complete dark mode. Matt Rossi’s eyes are not great, and it’s easier on him if things are presented in a dark mode format. I know others like this as well (Mr. MitchNo has made fun of me for having Discord be in the light mode, I promptly told him to get off my lawn), and it’s a relatively small improvement of life for everyone.
Finally, I’ll say that even though this is the plan for now, things can and do change. I don’t expect a massive deviation from the plan we have laid out, but we’ll sure as hell tweak it as we go along.
You said you’ve taken a break from WoW and were just getting back into it. Why, and did you?
With the birth of our son I’ve found it hard to really focus any energy on WoW. There’s definitely been times, but between him and a full time job, it’s pretty hard to find time to play games. He was also born five weeks early and needed some extra help initially (all good now); and last month I decided to have a cyst removed which turned into a semi-disaster (also all good now).
If I’m being honest too, the storyline did not get me in as much as previous expansions had. That led me to pause.
But I am getting back into it now. Sometimes taking a break is good. The question I just need to answer myself is what character to play, and stop alt jumping all the time.
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