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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Liberal Gaming Forum ResetEra Bought by MOBA Network

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - That's... unfortunate. For them.

Notorious gaming forum ResetEra (the successor to notorious gaming forum NeoGAF, which is technically still around) has been around for four years now. The forum, which proclaims itself to be an independent liberal and progressive (and occasionally leftist) gaming forum, manages to trick videogame journalists into thinking that they're a source of verified information on a somewhat regular basis. As an example of their way of thinking, they think Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai has a long and on-going racist streak. And while I do believe that Sakurai harbours unwarranted and undeserved hatred of certain other people (such as myself), I don't think that's a reasonable interpretation of things Sakurai has done. But reasonable takes isn't what ResetEra is known for. They ban people who have dissenting views from far left of centre (and how far minimum left you gotta be to stay around is always a moving target), and this is enforced throughout the forum, including what should be normal gaming discussion.

Anyway, they're independent of any company influencing them, though companies apparently aren't independent of being influenced by them. Though they should be. But that's all about to change, since a Swedish company called MOBA Network just acquired ResetEra for 4.55 million in USD. Apparently, ResetEra itself made $700,000 in revenue in the past twelve months, and with a healthy 80% earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, or amortisation margin... which is quite high. This is based off ads placed on the site, along with users trying to support the forum with lame things like an ads-less version called Era Clear for $40 a year. (Note their FAQ asks what happens to the subscription if you get banned; forums and organisations with normal moderation policies and subscriptions don't have that as a frequently asked question.) They bought that because they always thought ResetEra was on the verge of financial collapse and they wanted to keep their safe space open—but the opposite was true.

Interestingly, ResetEra's owner, an uninvolved nobody named Cerium, seems to be the sole recipient of the payout. ResetEra's heavy-handed moderator force was always on a volunteer basis and never got paid... and still won't. As Cerium explains, the moderators will still be volunteers, and “the tech team [...] will be making their own arrangements” with the new corporate owners if they want to stay along. Allegedly, MOBA Network will not be selling users’ data and their data will continue to be protected. That's of particular interest to the users because in order to join the forum, you need a paid email address instead of a free one, so you'd need something like a work or school email. As a result, ResetEra has quite an interesting amount of personally identifiable information on its userbase!

So who is MOBA Network?

To start with, they variously call themselves “M.O.B.A. Network”, “M.O.B.A Network”, or “MOBA Network”... I don't trust an organisation that can't stay consistent with its syntax. That's the sort of thing that should raise a red flag. Legitimate companies care about their branding. They run other forum brands that focus on eSports games, like League of Legends, DOTA, Smite, and Overwatch. Not my kind of discussion, but MOBA Network considers ResetEra to be an expansion of their gaming footprint. Interestingly, MOBA Network also desires to “expose” other companies to “attractive, growing target groups” with the “implementation of new ad formats”... Probably not great for ResetEra's independence streak or user experience.

But I'd find it hard to try to reach out to disaffected ResetEra users. I see them like North Korean refugees. Their minds are so warped and messed up after years of being in a bubble that they can't really handle freedom. They'd just get so weirdly triggered by things on KoopaTV that it wouldn't work out. In many ways, KoopaTV is the exact opposite of ResetEra, which goes back to my chaos (4chan) vs. order (NeoGAF) article. KoopaTV is chaotic while ResetEra is orderly. But to try to make a more orderly comparison, I've constructed this table:

Comparison KoopaTV ResetEra
Alignment Chaos Order
Revenue Model No revenue methods at all. Site is run at a loss. Enough revenue to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and keeping 80% of it, while tricking the userbase into thinking the site is broke.
Speech Allowed Free speech. You are entitled to share your disagreeable opinions. Heavily moderated and censored speech.
Truth Commitment Strong emphasis on presenting the truth with trustworthy sources. Makes things up and then pretends it's the truth, which media outlets pick up on and believe it's verified information.
Levity Commitment Strong emphasis on humour. Humour hurts people's feelings. Not allowed. You gotta take everything seriously.
Content Delivery Staff-written articles with reader comments attached, though guest-posting is available. Comments may be left anonymously. Commenters may be financially rewarded if given a pseudonym. Forum board posts with replies. Comments are not anonymous and are tied to a doxxable account. Commenters are the product.
Staffing Model Entirely volunteer-based. Since the site makes no revenue, no one gets paid. Entirely volunteer-based (except for the owner). Even though the site makes large amounts of profit, no one gets paid (except the owner).
Ideological Bent A wide variety of views, for a rich and complicated diversity of thought. The forefront of woke-ism and social justice. Also complicated, but in the sense that keeping up with it is difficult.

As evidence for some of my claims, here's a screenshot of someone getting banned from that change of ownership thread:

ResetEra bans Sinophobia Chinese company
You can get banned there for being afraid of China?
...But that's a whole reoccurring content theme on KoopaTV!

In a way, KoopaTV is a better socialist site (in practice) than ResetEra is. They've obviously been sold out to the capitalists.

Lots of their members claim to be leaving for elsewhere, but they're distressed that there aren't other large, left-wing gaming communities like ResetEra out there. As for me... I'm pretty glad there aren't. Maybe these crazy people can go outside their bubble and see just how nutty they are. Can they survive in the wild chaotic Internet without someone banning anyone normal who dare penetrates their social justice bubble? It'll be interesting to watch... though maybe for my sanity, I won't actually sit through and watch it.

Feel free to exercise your freedom of speech and discuss your thoughts on MOBA Network's acquisition in the comments section. If Ludwig could sell KoopaTV for $4.55 million, he would do it. The only way he'd be able to pull off that kind of sale is if it were part of some elaborate scam and fraud operation, however. There's no way anyone with that amount of money would part with it for something like KoopaTV under normal circumstances! Ludwig would ignore whatever happens on ResetEra if they didn't happen to be able to influence those outside of it.

Once upon a time, Ludwig had a NeoGAF account... which got banned because he's supposedly a Nazi bigot. NeoGAF was the real fascist, though.


  1. I thought the koopa and reset comparison chart was very funny, good work on that.

    It’s a shame because while there are interesting articles on resetera, most of them preachy garbage ones. Of course this was back in the day, now their really trying more than ever to cram a societal statement into every single post, it’s ridiculous.

    But I guess everyone has a price.

    1. The table was the core part of why this article exists, yeah. I liked it, too! Thanks!

      I think ResetEra from its very founding was preachy garbage. NeoGAF back in the day (like, prior to 2013 before KoopaTV blew up their brains) had some interesting things.


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