WoW Warcry Interview
Jonathan from Themis/The Escapist/WoW Warcry interviewed The Syndicate
about the guild and our WoW presence. The following are the questions
and answers for that interview:
1) When did The Syndicate® decide to move into WoW?
The Syndicate has an overall policy of having a presence in only 2
major games at a time. We have been in UO since the pre-alpha test and
have remained a loyal supporter of that game ever since. UO is very
easy to play and remain playing as it is very open ended and very
flexible in what players can do. We were in EQ for years. We knew we
were likely to have a massive number of members move from EQ to WOW
when it debuted so for about a year before the WOW beta we were talking
and planning. Around March/April of 04 EQ had a large implosion. Many
people left the game and we were among them. The game had become unfun
for many members and there was little point in grinding more when the
WOW beta was a couple weeks away. So we left EQ. We were given a large
block of WOW beta accounts for our guild so we passed those out and
entered the beta full bore to test it out and see how well it suited
us. We very much liked the instanced content and the way the system
worked so we continued our commitment to have a large WoW presence. The
game launched that November and we entered it with about 300 members.
We currently maintain a presence there of 275-300 members (it varies
based on real life things that pull members from gaming for a time) and
are enjoying it. We maintain a UO presence of 200-240 members. And the
remaining members, of our 550+, are inactive or helping to beta test
games or are playing around in other gaming worlds part time.
2) What do you do, in-game, that's special?
We actually have more 'special' things OUT of the game than we do IN
the game. IN the game every player has the same opportunities for
defeating content. OUT of the game is where we excel the most with
yearly conferences.. LAN parties.. monthly dinners.. and much more. I
would argue that our guild communications and comradery are second to
Within the games, what is most special is that we simply do not
recruit people that are aholes or that backstab guildmates or that are
kiddies and morons (well.. occasionally one slips through the cracks
but its very rare and we deal with it rapidly). So because of that we
foster a very friend focused, fun focused environment where every
member matters. We definitely participate in all aspects of the game
but we do so at our pace. We couldn't care less who kills which set of
pixels first. We don't measure our success by how fast we move. The
real measure is that after 10 years we are still here and still going
strong and hundreds of thousands of other guilds are not. So we foster
a very fun, very friend focused gaming experience. Members that want to
pvp have lots of other members to do so with.. the same goes for
raiding.. the same goes for crafting.. the same goes for questing etc..
We work as ONE team. We have no infighting. We don't backstab. We don't
have internal pissing matches. It's just a wonderful environment to be
a part of and that, in part, contributes to 10 years of success and
that all feeds back on itself and helps us remain strong.
3) Why did you trademark the guild?
The Syndicate trademarked our name and logo to insure that our efforts
at developing The Syndicate for over 10 years would be protected in the
online gaming world. We do recognize this is a relatively new topic for
the online gaming community, but it was done to address an issue common
in the gaming world where aliases and identities are so easily assumed
and discarded. Over the past few years we have dealt with individuals
and guilds not only using our name but outright claiming to be us. This
has happened a lot over the past 10 years and I am sure it has been an
issue for some other old and/or well known groups.
Our marks’ application is described on the registry as
“Entertainment services, namely, an online gaming guild providing in
game opportunities for proliferating game expertise and camaraderie
among gamers supported by a web site featuring multimedia materials.”
We are proud of our involvement in a host of services that include, but
are not limited to, our annual conference, submissions to game
development books, articles we have written for gaming publications,
guides for specific games or aspects of games, and a line of gaming
related products and clothing. We are also developing a service for
providing the development community feedback from gamers on what they
really want. We even have a paid position on the advisor board for a
small MMO company that we hope, one day, will result in a vibrant next
generation gaming world that has a positive impact on the whole
The Syndicate® is not simply a collection of people playing MMO’s
that share a title. We are an online gaming community that strives very
hard to provide outstanding services and benefits for our members and
also for the gaming community as a whole. We think our efforts are a
positive contribution and encourage feedback. We firmly believe that
trademarks don’t discourage creative enterprise, they nurture it by
allowing the people engaged in those enterprises to protect their
reputation and their investment.
It is our view that trademarked guilds are stable guilds. Nearly
all guilds will implode and fail at some point. When that happens
gaming companies lose subscribers. The more guilds that a company can
retain that are stable, the more customers they retain for a longer
period of time. Most of our members do not play the games we are in
because of the game. They play the game because the guild is there. If
they guild moved on, so would nearly all our members. When guilds
implode the animosity and shock of the experience very often results in
lost revenue. Trademarks are an inherent sign of stability in many
cases. Stability is good for gaming companies and good for the
community. The value of any one guild to a gaming company is almost
nothing since they come and go all the time. The value of a stable,
long term entity, like The Syndicate, can be measured in tens of
thousands of dollars of revenue per year per guild.
4) Do you worry doing so makes it all too commercial, like the Frag
Being trademarked doesn't change the way out guild works at all. Being
trademarked is an offshoot of how our guild is and has been for many
years. So it certainly doesn't make us too commercial since we haven't
changed anything about ourselves. We have merely protected our name,
logo and motto's due to our large amount of invested time and energy
and capital over the years. We produce a large number of services for
our members and we wished to protect those services and our overall
entity by obtaining the mark.
5) Have you run into much trouble since trademarking The Syndicate?
We have run into very little trouble. There are certainly some angry
people in the community that can't believe we have done this but there
seems to be a huge groundswell of support both from players and
developers. The biggest negative comment we hear is that we 'cant'
trademark our name since it has to be based in commerce and most people
attribute commerce to be a tangible product. We are actually
servicemarked and that means our commerce is in the form of a service
to our members (or to the community at large if we so chose). In order
to get a mark you must prove commerce which we have done. Because this
is a new area of the law and we are the first guild to do this, what is
normally a 6 month process took basically 18 months to complete. That
was due, in part, to our commerce being reviewed and evaluated as
legitimate. So no, we haven't run into any real trouble. We have a
legal mark. We have the services/commerce to back it up. And we have
demonstrated those in a number of cases to have the mark enforced.
6) Are any guilds trying to fight having to change their names?
We have chosen the tactic of dealing with gaming companies rather than
individual guilds. Naturally some groups would resist having their name
changed and we seemed to have come across a couple of those, in the
past, who felt they were legal experts and wanted to argue every point
of things they didn't fully understand. It wasn't worth our time and
effort to deal with guild's one on one because of that. Instead we are
working with the gaming companies themselves. That has proven to be
much better route for all involved. The gaming companies review our
mark with their legal departments and make a decision on how they will
enforce it and then they take the necessary steps to do so. The most
common method is to add our mark to their filters for guild creation
which pretty much fixes the issue for all future guilds. If there are
existing entities they commonly get renamed to something that doesn't
violate the mark. It is very inexpensive for the gaming companies to
add the word to their filters and in most cases there are only a few
groups to rename so that doesn't take much time either. So far the
response from the many gaming companies we have dealt with has been
extremely positive. We are very grateful for their support.
7) Have you run into much drama? How do you handle that when it comes
Internal to our guild there is very little drama. Once in a blue moon
we have someone explode over some decision they didn't like or with a
personality conflict but those are pretty minor in the grand scheme of
things. We simply don't recruit people that are likely to lead to
causing drama and we don't keep members that do cause it. We recruit
members who share the same values and goals.. who have similar
personalities.. who want what we have to offer and who can give back to
the team in a way that adds to the greater good. By keeping our
recruiting focused on that we eliminate nearly all internal drama.
There is occasional external drama. For example, we firmly believe
we are the premier online gaming guild and that phrase often pisses off
a few hardcore guilds who feel that since they killed 'uber pixelman
101' before we did that they are better. They may be faster at killing
pixels and if so, kudos to them! But in the grand scheme of things,
years down the road we will still be here doing our thing with a fun
loving stable guild community and in most cases, they won't be. We were
doing our thing before they existed and will be doing it after they are
gone. We don't wish them ill.. and in fact we wish them all the best..
but killing 'uber pixelman 101' first isnt a measure of success of a
guild over the long term. Stability, unity, and actually being around
10 years from now are a much better indicator. Strong relationships
with developers are a much better indicator. Being invited to author
chapters in books or sit in many advisory panels or being asked to
privately consult and test for gaming companies are all better
indicators. We wish all players well as we want to see the gaming
community thrive and grow for years to come but we do believe that when
taken as a whole, we are the premier guild. So that belief and not
being ashamed to say so on our site does ruffle the feathers of some
and occasionally it leads to flame posts on boards.
As for how we deal with it.. well.. we don't. The reality is that
the more the flamers post about us, the more it ends up helping us. The
same is really true for most guilds that get flamed. There really is no
such thing as bad press unless you really are acting in a mean spirited
anti-social way. Instead, flame posts just draw attention to a group
from people that otherwise wouldn't care or wouldn't know they existed.
It sends people to a group's site to look up more info about them. And
ultimately, it ends up with alot more positive benefit than negative.
Most flamers don't get that so they flame away but it works out to our
advantage in the long run. Lots more hits to our site. New contacts
with other friendly guilds and players. New contacts with developers we
haven't met yet. And even the making of new friends that eventually
turn into great members. So there is no reason to deal with public
drama since ultimately it works to our advantage since we aren't
anti-social players.. we do work to help the community.. we do make
alot of friends.. and we are nice, helpful and friendly to anyone that
treats us the same way. It is common for random people to come up to
our members, that they have never met, and ask them to hold onto items
for them as they swap chars since they known they can trust us not to
steal them and run off. That kind of reputation makes it so that we
don't care about drama at all :)
8) Blizzard recently waffled on whether or not homosexuals were welcome
to openly announce their sexuality in-game. How do you feel about that
particular issue, specifically gay marriage within the game, as well as
people's right to be who they choose to be in Azeroth?
We really don't care what other groups chose to do or believe. Our
focus is on making our guild a success and on helping those that are
friendly with us. Really, does it really matter if another guild only
admits dwarves or if they only allow people ages 25 to 26 and kick you
out if you turn 27? Who really cares since it is their guild to do with
as they please? It isnt hurting us. I don't see it as hurting the
community unless a group tries to impose its values or beliefs on
others. So long as a group isnt trying to do that, is it really
anyone's business what they decide to do within their guild? Not in my
opinion. It is a fantasy world after all.
9) Farming has been a problem in-game since day one. How do you feel
about real money transactions?
Our overall guild policy is that we support the gaming company's
policies when it comes to those types of activities. If Blizzard says
it's not ok, then it's not ok for our members to get involved in and
therefore we don't support others who get involved in it. My assumption
is that Blizzard is formally opposed to it due to the legal liability
that can come with endorsing those transactions more so than some
greater moral judgment that selling stuff is bad. Given the things
people sue over these days, can you really blame them? Within the WoW
world it has taken on an overall negative social connotation for most
players as well. Within our guild we do not buy or sell items, gold
etc.. per the policy of Blizzard.
10) Do you think Blizzard should really crack down on the practice, so
no one would be able to trade in-game items and gold for cash, or should
they take SOE's tack on the issue, where they would go after farmers,
but honest players could still make a buck off the stuff they don't
That is a business decision really and not an 'opinion' one. There have
likely been a great many discussions internally on the liability issues
so if the policy is "no selling" then there should be enforcement to go
along with it. They are up against a determined and strong market force
so it may not be a winnable battle.
11) How casual or hardcore is The Syndicate?
I would say we have members that range from casual to fairly hardcore.
The difference between what you may typically think of as hardcore and
our hardcore members is that all of our members are not here for the
game but rather are here for the guild and all it offers. WoW.. or UO..
or any game we play isnt our reason for existing. They are simply tools
that we use to enhance our guild community. So while some play them
casually and some play them hardcore.. while some raid and some pvp and
some do neither.. when the day is done its never about the game but
rather its always about the guild. As I mentioned above, if we packed
up and left WoW tomorrow the vast majority of the guild would pack up
and move with us. WoW is a wonderful game but for the bulk of the
guild, The Syndicate is of far greater value to them.
12) How do you feel about each playstyle? Can they coexist?
We have a member of our guild who once commented on tattoo's. Who said
the difference between people with tattoos and those without is that
those with tattoos don't look down on those who don't have them.
Regardless of whether or not you support that statement there is a
parallel between it and the hardcore and casual playstyles dynamic.
While this certainly doesn't apply to ever hardcore player, there
definitely appear to be far more hardcore players that look down on
casual players than vice versa despite the fact that casual players far
outnumber hardcore ones. In UO terms, the most 'hardcore' ones are
often the pvpers yet they are less than 10% of the total population.
Rarely do you see a nonpvper posting 'd00d you suxorZ cuz you pvp!' but
its fairly common to see the reverse.
Can they co-exist? Certainly.. and in an instanced game like WoW
that really makes coexisting of different playstyles much easier to
achieve because there is no blocking of content by 'ubah' guilds and
everyone can basically play their own game at their own pace. This
leads to not just the "haves" and the "have nots" but really a full
spectrum of groups. Groups that might never have been able to ever raid
in EQ, due to content being crushed the second it spawned by the
'haves' can now raid in WoW at their own pace. Sure, they may proceed
slower than the hardcore players but who really cares? MMO's, for most
players, are there for personal enjoyment and playing with friends and
having a relaxing fun time at whatever pace game you play. The real
irony is in the fact that while casual players far outnumber hardcore
ones, you won't often see a casual player slam a hardcore one for going
too fast but you will see the opposite just about daily on the server
forums. In sure there is a really interesting sociology research paper
in that phenomenon if someone wanted to put the time in to study it.
13) Finally, how did you like the Scout We'd appreciate any praise or
hehe hey look! a plug for your mod! Which is located here:
http://wow.warcry.com/db/addon.php We have been testing the mod for
over a week now and so far we have only had one member run into an
issue with it. I have heard only good feedback from our members about
it. It is similar to what some other sites have done in the past but
what I personally really like about the Warcry one is that it feeds
into your really easy to use and very slick searchable database off the
site. I have always liked Warcry's presentation of information and I
think when Scout catches on and data comes pouring in from large
numbers of players there will be plenty of deep content to go with the
presentation and that will really be a big benefit to players.
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