This week we start off our interview-series "Behind the scenes". For you we talk to the people who are an essential part of our community, give us the best news and information or also created useful webpages or tools. For our first edition of "Behin the scenes" we chose Fabien Bonte aka Boubouille as interview-partner. Boubouille is the man behind mmo-champion.com, which is one of, if not the most important english WoW-Newssite, used by a lot of fan-sites as a news-source.
Corgan: First of all i would like you to tell us a little bit more about your person, so we know better to whom we are talking to. (age, where a u living, aso)
Boubouille: There isn’t much to say about me, I’m 20, I live in France and MMO-Champion is now my full-time job. ^^
Corgan: How did you get to MMO-Champion? Is this your site or did you have the idea behind it?
Boubouille: At the beginning of 2007 I was bored and didn’t really have anything to do, I came across an advertisement for a WoW Leveling guide and thought “hey, maybe I could make money too by working on a few guides”. I started writing a few gold farming guides and sold them on Ebay, it wasn’t too bad but I didn’t really like the feeling of selling this kind of information and after something like 10 sales, I decided to publish everything on a site for free and see if it would be interesting enough to bring visitors.
Corgan: Did you do anything similar before?
Boubouille: Nop, I had to learn pretty much everything, HTML coding (I didn’t even know how to create a link to another website), how to use Photoshop to post decent images, and of course all the mechanics behind WoW.
Corgan: Do you work alone or do you have some „co-workers“?
Boubouille: I work alone on the content of the site, however I did have the help from a few friends for the technical stuff like configuring the servers (and trying to keep them alive on patch days ^^) and coding.
Corgan: I just got your infos about the upcoming patch. Very explicit as always. How do you manage all that work alone?
Boubouille: A lot of the info is gathered from forums or emails I receive, I also get the help from a few databases to get changes on items and things like that. (Wowhead and Thottbot mostly) On major patches I also spend a lot of time browsing the game files with WoWModelViewer and MyWarcraftStudio to see if anything changed.
Corgan: How is your daily routine? When do you get up and how long do you usually work on MMO-Champion per day?
Boubouille: I try to post my news in the morning between 04:00 AM and 08:00 AM (local time) because that’s when the day end for US Blizzard posters. If nothing big is expected (new PTR patches or things like that), I wake up at 04:00 or 05:00 AM and see what happened while I was sleeping by checking my mails and WoWBlues mostly. If there is any PTR patch expected, I just news before going to bed at 05:00 AM to make sure I’m not missing any announcement during the evening.
Corgan: MMO-Champion became one of the most important and up-to-date News-Sites for World of Warcraft. Was this your original target or did this status just evolve over the years?
Boubouille: Can’t really talk about an evolution over the years, the site isn’t even a year old. ^^
I mostly wanted to write boss and farming guides in the beginning, but it became clear very fast were really interested in PTR patch previews and things like that, I’m mostly focusing on news now and might have to rely on a few other people to update the content.
Corgan: What do you think about other news-sites which take over your news / pictures over and „forget“ to name MMO-Champion as a source? Is this annoying to you or you don't mind?
Boubouille: It happened a lot in the past, especially in the 2.1 days when my site wasn’t as popular as other ones. Now it’s a lot harder to take anything from MMO-Champion because people will eventually know it’s from here, at best people will wait a few days before posting the news to not make it too obvious. Hopefully that’s restricted to a very small amount of sites, and a lot of big sites mention their sources and helped me become popular during the first months. (Thanks WoWInsider. ^^)
Corgan: Do you have contact to Blizzard or to one of the Community Managers or developers?
Boubouille: No, MMO-Champion isn’t part of the official fansite program because one of the rule to join this program is to not publish unreleased content and that’s exactly what I do with the PTR previews. However I never tried to apply and never heard anything from a Blizzard employee if that’s what you’re wondering. ^^
Corgan: Which WoW-Homepages do you like the best?
Boubouille: Wait … There are other WoW sites ??? No actually I don’t visit a lot of them, the only other english WoW site I visit every day is wowinsider.com, and sometimes wowace.com to check if there is anything new worth mentioning on the site. All the other sites I visit are French, mostly forums to kill the time between two blue posts.
Corgan: Is there any time left for you to play WoW? Which class/race are you playing?
Boubouille: Yes, but it doesn’t mean I use it to play. I stopped playing a bit before creating MMO-Champion because I didn’t really want to play 6 hours a day while working on the site, I knew I would end up slacking for the rest of the day. I keep myself informed on mechanics and things like that but I don’t play it at high level anymore, however I might change my mind in a few weeks to get myself ready for WotLK. ^^
Corgan: Do you prefer PvE or PvP in World if Warcraft? How is your raid-progress looking at this point?
Boubouille: PvE, and my raid progress stopped two years ago when my guild was working on C’thun, I did a few Naxxramas and BC raids with them after that but nothing serious.
Corgan: What is your opinion on Blizzard trying to bring WoW-arena-gaming into the eSport-sector? Changes in patch 2.4 also point to that direction.
Boubouille: That’s a good idea, eSport is a good way to keep online games alive and popular, and it’s nice to see this kind of initiative on a MMORPG.
Corgan: You obviously know about the problem with heavily used Bots in Alterac-Valley. Are you getting a lot of infos or comments on this issue from visitors to MMO-CHampion?
Boubouille: Not really, people know I can’t really do anything about it except reporting a few blue posts related to the problem.
Corgan: In your opinion... Is Blizzard taking sufficient measures against this problem or could they do more?
Boubouille: You can always do more, but Blizzard have to be very careful when they start using the banhammer, the best thing to do is to keep reporting them and players will eventually clean the mess by themselves.
Corgan: Let's talk a little bit about WotLK. If i remember right, you were pretty right on guessing the next expansion for WoW before the official announcement. Did you have any other „intern“ sources?^^
Boubouille: You didn’t really need any Blizzard source to guess it, they were just too many people involved and the information eventually got posted on a few forums. We had tons of Northrend related files in the 2.1 patch and it was easy to chose Northrend among all the rumors.
Corgan: Your guess: When will the first beta-phase start und why do you think is Blizzard throwing in a strong content patch like the sunwell-patch will be?
Boubouille: To keep players busy, the first beta phase of WotLK will probably start between March and April, and the expansion won’t be released before the end of 2008, that’s a lot of time to wait for all the players who won’t play the beta.
Corgan: Do you think WotLK will have the same success like Burning Crusade?
Boubouille: Yes, most of the players will buy the expansion, and Blizzard announced a few days ago that the amount of subscribers was higher than a year ago, it’s easy to do the maths. You also have to take into account all the people who stopped playing at some point, before and after the release of BC, a lot of them will reactivate their account just to try the new expansion, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see tons of old players coming back just because of that.
Corgan: What is your opinion on upcoming MMO's like Age of Conan or Aion? Do you think one of these games will be a „danger“ to WoW?
Boubouille: Nop, even if they are good (I didn’t try them) they can’t really compete with the amount of subscribers on WoW. People mostly play with their friends and they won’t just stop playing WoW to move on another game, even if they do most of them will come back after a month or two because they got bored of not being able to talk to all their old guildmates.
Corgan: As a passionate World of Warcraft player.... If you had one wish for a feature ingame, what would you like to see immediately on the servers?
Boubouille: For the greater good, more PvP tournaments options like a spectator mode and the ability to organize online tournaments. Personally I’d would love to see a lot more options to trade in WoW, I spent a lot of my playtime trading at the auction house and I really think it lacks a few basic things to make it really interesting. (Buy orders to let farmers get rid of their stuff very fast, removal of stacks at the AH to directly let people chose how many units of an item they want, etc …)
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