Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Farewell, WoW Insider

A Last Look
In a post on Saturday, Alex Ziebart, editor-in-chief of the popular WoW Blog, announced that the site would be closing as of Tuesday Feb. 3. Reasons were not given, though Ziebart expressed that the closure was not expected.

Scanning other parts of the Interwebs, we can find that WoW Insider is a victim of corporate culling that has also taken down Massively, a news site that covered MMOs in general as well as a titan of gaming press, Joystiq.  We have good ol' America Online to thank for this! One has to worry about a world in which media conglomerates buy up titles like these, only to,throw them away two years later. It makes you think they should have kept their hands off in the first place. According to most reports, there are 150 out looking for work today.

It could be observed that poor WoW Insider had contracted in the past few years at the same time Curse-sites and ZAM were aggressively expanding both news coverage and features on their sites about Warcraft. 

One might have observed last fall that WoW Insider did not hold its own meet-up at Blizzcon. They did "join" Wowhead's meet, but didn't really promote it. One might have said to oneself, "Hmm...my favorite WoW news site is not getting the support they've had from corporate in the past."

Furthermore, you could see that Blizzard had built significant partnerships into several business relationships, but not WoW Insider. Presumably, the corporate synergies could not align there. Unlike the ZAM or Curse, AOL is too large to necessarily be able to play nice with another big boy like Blizzard/EA. but this is only speculation about things we'll never learn for sure.

I Come to Praise Insider, Not Bury Them.
WoW Insider was just about the most reliable source of news from WoW for years. It was one of the few publishers who kept up with Blizzard's meta-activity, like the earnings reports and comings and goings of developers. No other site presented as much about Warcraft lore. Right now, there are multiple efforts (and worries) about how to catalogue the deep reservoir of Know Your Lore articles that feel like they may be lost soon.

WoW Insider was one of the finest promoters of the WoW community. They had regular articles about interesting players, the daily screen shots and machinima, the column where they'd attempt to cook weird in-game recipes in real-life. 

WoW Insider was definitely an inspiration for this blog: a fun, casual, highly-opinionated read that has just been a joy to make. Several years ago, Anne Stickney regularly contributed a column featuring blogs like this from around the community and there was no prouder day for me as a blogger than the day she featured an article I had written. I never knew of a forum to simply say this, so I'll do it here: thank you, Anne. And Thank you,Wow Insider.

The Future?
The disposition of all the contents of WoW Insider is slightly unknown at this time. It all belongs to AOL, and some suggest it'll be catalogued at Engadget, the last remaining sibling of these AOL tech sites.

Alex Ziebart, in comments, tweets and other places I see sounds like he has something up his sleeve, but I've no idea what. Perhaps this will be revealed in the next few days. To the best of my knowledge, most of the writers at the site had some other projects going (Ziebart just released his first novel) but I wish them the best!

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