Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Biggest MMO Story of the Year

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the MMO story of the year. This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it’s not for a single article; it’s an award for an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre in 2015. Last year’s award, you’ll recall, went to the ArcheAge melodrama.

All of the Massively OP writers weighed in on this one. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!

The Massively OP staff pick for biggest story of 2015 is…

Daybreak’s drama

story-of-the-year

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): SOE becoming Daybreak. Sony Online Entertainment being acquired by Columbus Nova and rebranding as Daybreak Games was a big shock and has had some serious repercussions throughout the year for the studio and its games. Layoffs almost immediately hit across the board, casting some doubt on the development of Landmark and EverQuest Next and on the future health of the studio’s other titles. CEO John Smedley continued to make headlines throughout the year when he became the target of a great deal of harassment and Daybreak’s game servers began suffering getting DDoS attacks. The story hit its peak when Smedley stepped down from his role within Daybreak and went on to leave the company entirely to form a new studio.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The massive shakeup of a dependable and long-lived studio like SOE/Daybreak this year took pretty much everyone by surprise, and it was topped only by the ejection of long-time developers and John Smedley himself, never mind the strange legal and social media drama Smed was dragged into and the formation of his new studio.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): WildStar’s shift to free-to-play. I feel like we spent a lot of time over the past year talking about the shift in business models for this particular title, and I think a big part of why is that the impression being given was less “here is a shift in business model” and more “here is a shift in design philosophy.” What kept WildStar in the doldrums through its launch year wasn’t just a subscription fee, and the game as a whole seems to have embraced the idea that its rebranding is the opportunity for a real sea change.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): There were lots of big stories this year, but none bigger or more unexpected than SOE being kicked to the curb by Sony, getting acquired by random investment firm Columbus Nova, and being rebranded as Daybreak Games. Honorable mention to that very same Daybreak for firing (?) face-of-the-franchise John Smedley. Honorable honorable mention to AOL for firing the best game bloggers in the business.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): SOE/Daybreak/Smedley. An MMO institution (in more than one way) was turned upside-down and inside-out over several months, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty among fans of the studio and its key developers. I’ll also nominate Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. Both the hype and criticism for Guild Wars 2’s first expansion went through the roof at various points this year, including a bungled pre-order announcement, huge sales, and largely positive reviews.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): The series of Star Citizen stories that involved the misappropriation of funds and mistreatment of employees. But it wasn’t what the studio was accused of doing that really made this the top story for me; it was the way it was presented and the polarization of the MMO community. It is also the weight of the story, too. I believe that Star Citizen has to succeed as a launched game. Because of it position as one of the first and largest crowd-funded MMOs, it will either make a huge positive mark on MMOs as a genre or a giant scar. It seems that there is a contingent of people who want to see it fall and a contingent of people who can see no fault. And because of the way the evidence was presented by those who accused Chris Roberts of wrongdoing, both sides hit each other head on with little consideration for the truth sometimes.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): I’m gonna hafta go with the whole sequence of events leading up to (and including) Smedley’s resignation and subsequent foundation of a new company. I don’t think I really need to expound on this one too much. The whole chain of events, from the bomb threat targeting Smed to his completely out-of-left-field resignation was just too bizarre to forget.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I have to go with SOE going the way of the dodo. Yes, we have Daybreak Games, but the surprise announcement was a major shock, and the ramifications of that shake up is still being felt.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): I’m going to roll with GW2’s base game going free-to-play, partly because it revitalised Central Tyria and helped get some fresh blood firmly on board the HoT hypetrain, but mostly because I just didn’t see it coming and it caused such a wave of controversy since it was lumped in with the whole “base game included in expansion price” storm. I’ve been able to use the F2P base game to hook in some more of my friends (about half of which either have since bought the expansion or are hoping Santa brings it this Christmas), so I’m delighted with the move.

The SOE, Daybreak, and Smedley drama was our pick for MMO story of the year. What’s your pick?

What was the most important MMO story of the year?

  • Daybreak's shakeup (36%, 383 Votes)
  • WildStar goes free-to-play (4%, 37 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 free-to-play & Heart of Thorns (6%, 62 Votes)
  • Star Citizen development drama (15%, 160 Votes)
  • Massively OP's resurrection (19%, 200 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls goes buy-to-play (4%, 40 Votes)
  • Pathfinder's meltdown (1%, 9 Votes)
  • The Repopulation's HeroEngine woes (1%, 13 Votes)
  • CCP sells White Wolf (5%, 48 Votes)
  • WoW's huge sub losses (9%, 93 Votes)
  • Something else -- tell us in the comments! (1%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,057

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107 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Biggest MMO Story of the Year"

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mysecretid
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mysecretid

Ironwu As I posted elsewhere, I think we’ll eventually see something called EverQuest Next released … but I expect it to be a mere shadow of what we were initially promised, at best.

Cheers,

mysecretid
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mysecretid

As others have said:

The Daybreak story was probably the MMORPG news story of the year

The Star Citizen drama was probably the MMORPG entertainment story of the year (and, personally. saw The Escapist fall off my list of gaming websites to read because … skeevy yellow journalism, whether you love SC or hate it).

and 

The Massively Overpowered resurrection was my personal MMORPG story of the year.

Llokki
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Llokki

Massively being resurrected as MassivelyOP, by far :-)

Kayweg
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Kayweg

Had to go with Massively OP’s resurrection.
See, without it i wouldn’t even be voting here.

Ironwu
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Ironwu

Yes, Sony dumping SOE came out of nowhere.  
Followed shortly by Daybreak gutting the leadership and heart out of EQ Next development.
I don’t see this ending well, in the long run.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

I voted “Something else”. The story (or set of stories) I think is most important this year is the serious threats and harassment of developer and their families. A small part of the gamer community is absolutely despicable.

However, there is a solution to this: Developers should go under nicknames and their real identites only known to their employer, which in turn keeps it a company secret. If the nickname <–> real name relationship is revealed anyway, then they just change his/hers nickname.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

Gibbins 
I would’ve voted for Star Citizen too as the big story of the year, if it was an option, but since the option was the drama around it I don’t think it deserve a vote.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

syberghost 
Star Citizen is 3 years into development, not 4.5 years.

cures
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cures

massivelyOP staying alive > minor drama in the industry. Honestly :)

syberghost
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syberghost

Corvus Monedula Scarecrowe breetoplay ManastuUtakata PurpleCopper and here’s an interesting article about how dangerous the lack of those safeguards is:

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-06-23-how-indie-film-financing-could-shape-the-future-of-games

It was written by Ortwin Freyermuth.

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

syberghost Darkwalker75 TheChiefTurtle 
If you cant do better than just claim its been posted in every story about the game, and not provide the actual source, then why should I believe you?
Especially when there are sources that says otherwise.

If you are going to claim something is true, you really should provide a source or proof to back it up if you want people to take you seriously, especially when there are sources that says the opposite.

He has said he spent a year, not a year and a half, working on the prototype/pitch video, not on the games development.

syberghost
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syberghost

Darkwalker75 syberghost TheChiefTurtle since it’s been linked in literally EVERY story that mentions Star Citizen, and you’ve replied to posts linking it multiple times, you’ve read it; so if at this point you continue to pretend it never happened, there’s no sense wasting everybody’s time linking it to you again.

It’s celebrating the 3rd anniversary so that people like you will continue to conveniently ignore 18 months of development and keep the funding tap open a bit longer.

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

syberghost Darkwalker75 TheChiefTurtle 
Source?

syberghost
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syberghost

Darkwalker75 syberghost TheChiefTurtle direct quotes from Chris Roberts about when development started. Why, are you calling him a liar?

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

syberghost TheChiefTurtle 
Where do you get this four and a half years from?
The game just celebrated its 3rd anniversary.

You must be one of those who think that the year Roberts spent making the original pitch video, is somehow part of the actual game development.
That is not the case, they are separate things.
Just because the man created a few assets in Cryengine and made a video does not mean he did any development on the actual game.

syberghost
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syberghost

TheChiefTurtle you mean like the folks who keep saying “3 years” now that SC is four and a half years into development?

Gibbins
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Gibbins

Star citizen is hands down the big story this year.

The scope and vision of the game itself is groundbreaking, and the scale of the funding using players cash not “investors” is beyond anything else we have seen.  This game, and the way the game is made have the potential to fundamentally change the industry, for good, or for ill.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

Kheran breetoplay Polyanna I think combined SC has more comments than any other game this year but I think that dead game no one even plays anymore or cares about will get the most in a single thread.

Gevah
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Gevah

I voted for Massively OP, i started reading the old website from the day one, it made me love MMOs and i never played them before, now i can’t play single player games! so … saying thank you is not enough, but that’s all i have now, so: Thank you very much MOP team.

Celestia
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Celestia

I see the Massively OP resurrection as a triumph of good people over dumb people and should and must  be celebrated at any and all opportunities.  The SOE/Daybreak upheaval was however the MMORPG story of the year.  So many of their core people were fired or left in such a short amount of time.

Vexia
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Vexia

TimothyTierless Couldn’t agree more! I voted for it as well because, in my view, MOP is really important and beneficial to the MMO industry. On this site we’ve got all the latest news with special features like interviews, opinions and discussion, community, giveaways, a podcast, live streams, servers and guilds in various games… That’s a LOT of stuff just off the top of my head. I bet I missed some of it, too. I don’t know of anyone else that is doing all that for the MMO industry. To think that we could have lost it! No way the people who love this site would let that happen! 
Massively OP best MMO 2015 :P

TheChiefTurtle
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TheChiefTurtle

pretty sure Star Citizen team doesn’t give a crap about the loser, after all he’s just a buffoon without credibilty, but I’m still hoping their lawyers will crack down on that bitch from the Escrapist.

TheChiefTurtle
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TheChiefTurtle

what starcitizen development drama? Tim Schaefer needs 3 years to finish a 2D point ne click adventure and SC is supposed to finish an MMO and a single play game in the same time? lol
the real drama is armchair developers being allowed to post on the internet and journalists turning bullcrap into headlines

Linaea
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Linaea

On a personal level, MOP’s resurrection wins, since this is my favorite internet hangout and I would be seriously at a loss if you guys weren’t around. Those couple of weeks at the beginning of the year without Massively/MOP were tough…

In a general sense, SOE’s implosion is the ‘winner’ here, if you can call it that.

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

But seriously, MOP Res was special.
The “proper” list is:
1. Daybreak
2. Pathfinder Meltdown
3. CPP dumping WoD
X. LotRO server merges (for me)
Y. Trove (just how fun it is)

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

Hehe, 178 ppl did not read the list long enough to see that MOP Resurrection was there.
:)

LordSolarMacharius
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LordSolarMacharius

Actiblizz announcing that they would no longer be reporting subscription numbers for World of Warcraft and the announcement of another content drought in WoW a year long after promising that they’d learned their lessons from doing this crap before is pretty big news. Them refusing to report subscription numbers anymore tells me that they expect massive losses and want to avoid spooking investors and current WoW players (not like we couldn’t notice that the servers are slowly turning into ghost towns compared to what they were at the launch of WoD).

aboomwithaview
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aboomwithaview

TimothyTierless Only found MOP this year, yes yes I know ive been living under a rock the whole time.
So for me personally MOPs resurrection gets the vote purely for me stumbling across it & all the jewels within that amazes me it couldve been on the precipice in the first place.

For pure hilarity I would have given a vote to the Star Citizen drama & all the nonsense coming out of Voldemorts mouth.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Scarecrowe breetoplay ManastuUtakata PurpleCopper 
Game industry shifted when an investment company out of no where swallowed an established industry title wholey with all its games. So it’s a game changer, least on a corporate level. And not a mere flesh wound.
As for SC, many would argue that CiG where already being as transparent to begin with. This drama really changed nothing beyond fueling the haters. But it has done little to the gaming industry as a whole, which remains mostly opaque and elusive as ever.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Caec  I agree with all that. Re GW2, it seems to me that vets are liking HOT but what I am reading GW2 1.0 was more friendly to outsiders than 2.0

SteinarB
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SteinarB

breetoplay mmonerd Sorenthaz That…  That makes me a very happy nerd! :)

SteinarB
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SteinarB

CloakingDonkey breetoplay LordOfBread mmonerd 
It’s sad, really to see what the Escapist has become, and I’m not even taking into account the SC drama here.  They’ve been cancelling shows/losing content over the last…  what?  Year now?  And replacing the good stuff with crap or nothing at all.  The departure of Jim Sterling, Movie Bob and the Loading Ready Run crew really hurt them, IMO.  All they really have now is, again IMO, Yahtzee.

Scarecrowe
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Scarecrowe

breetoplay ManastuUtakata PurpleCopper
I’ve followed the SOE/Daybreak stuff but just don’t see how the sale/transition impacted the genre much less the way MMOs are developed. Now the stuff with DS taking shots at Star Citizen (a game actually *in* development) seems like it has caused a lot more transparency or at the very least more attention to a game in development.  (also, it was hilarious)

Caec
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Caec

The most important story of the year is the complete lack of big AAA MMO titles on the horizon. After years and years of chasing the fleeting promise of large subscriber numbers (really, WoW’s financial success), it appears the industry has finally given up that dream. 
I want to be positive and say that brings some hope to the genre, in that if we do get a large title that has some real wide-ranging success…that it’ll be for the right reasons (designed to be great), rather than the wrong reasons (money signs when looking at how WoW did all those years ago), now that it appears that gold rush has died.

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

breetoplay Darkwalker75 kimowar 
That’s one of the reasons why I like MOP so much,
You take your work seriously and are willing to admit when you are wrong and correct your mistakes.

Rumm
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Rumm

WoW dropping to a fraction of its peak subscribers is pretty big for the industry as a whole, however it wasn’t really a single story and more of a dwindling issue. 

Star Citizen vs. Voldemort is entertaining, frustrating, and depressing all at once, however I wouldn’t classify it as “news” so much as a crusade against CR and petty advertising for a competitors less than average game.

Daybreak is huge, if you had any interest in SOE or Daybreak; I had 0 vested interest in the company and therefore it had little impact on me.

Voted for Massively res, just because that was big for me personally, as this is one of the few sites that I visit multiple times a day.

snotgurgle
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snotgurgle

Stormwaltz

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Darkwalker75 kimowar You’re right — typing flub. I will correct it in the poll!

CloakingDonkey
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CloakingDonkey

breetoplay LordOfBread mmonerd what happened? I used to watch all these great shows there, like Doraleous and Associated. ._.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

Stormwaltz Great clarification. I strongly agree. The SOE was heartbreaking and important. The Star Citizen stuff was interesting, and when you take into account  the Derek Smart insanity, entertaining.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

Without a doubt The whole SOE thing. Nothing comes close in my opinion to everything that ended up shaking out with that drama. The thing is that it isn’t over in my opinion. Quite a few of us called a lot of what ended up happening. I think we’re just waiting for the final sell off of parts that was once SOE. I know I and others were called out on being negative at the time and I didn’t want to be negative. I just was being realistic based on what I’d seen repeatedly over the last five decades on this planet. :( I have no faith or hope in anything really coming out of this in the future.

Kheran
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Kheran

breetoplay Polyanna I’m betting on a Star Citizen article. Who’s with me ? ;)

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

ShagrathVtc TimothyTierless 
I have to agree with this.
I haven’t followed Massively as long as you have, but it did come as a surprise what they had to close down early this year.

I always found Massively to be the best place to go when looking for gaming news.
Less click bait headlines/articles, reasonably objective articles with some decent research done and writers/journalists with integrity and willingness to listen to feedback.

That’s why I decided to back them when they decided to go independent, and MOP has since become my primary go to site for gaming news.

Eliandal
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Eliandal

Kalamari Polyanna   No…it’s definitely going to have at least one mention of Star Citizen VS DS, which is both funny, and unfortunate.  Funny because of the comedic value of the accusations/demands.  Sad because it gives yet more exposure to that stain – and I’m NOT talking about Star Citizen :D!

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

kimowar 
Unless I’m mistaken ESO is B2P, not F2P.
ESO used to have a sub that was removed, but as far as I know you still have to buy the game to play.

I noticed that allot of people seem to confuse the two terms, and call a game for F2P when its really B2P because it don’t have a subscription(P2P).
I think maybe the term B2P is less known than the F2P and people are either unaware of it or don’t know the difference

agemyth
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agemyth

The Star Citizen vs Smart kerfuffle is “juicy” as a news story and at times interesting and illuminating, but I see it being less interesting as time passes and the game eventually comes out (whether good or bad).
Sony Online Entertainment no longer exists. You may say that the staff at the end of SOE and at Daybreak now are almost certainly not the same people, but SOE had a hell of a legacy in online and MMO games. They had the first “blockbuster” success of an MMO in EverQuest, the first persistent world MMOFPS in Planetside, and the first “real” console MMO with EQOA. They put out a successful console MMO back in the days where all of their competition was trying to do the same and failed multiple times. Phantasy Star Online was its closest competition, but was more like Diablo 2 than an MMO.
On this site I don’t think I need to mention what a big deal SWG was despite its troublesome patch history. They had a reputation for keeping their games’ servers live far beyond what the competition would. Nobody but SOE would have kept EQMac alive as long as they did. The same goes for EQOA, Vanguard, The Matrix Online, and more.

Darkwalker75
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Darkwalker75

Stormwaltz 
While I do not agree with you on important, I do agree with you on entertaining.

LordOfBread
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LordOfBread

breetoplay mmonerd formerly reputable, indeed. Now they´re in *his* corner of obscurity. :D

Stormwaltz
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Stormwaltz

Yeah, Daybreak for Most Important Story.

But Star Citizen for Most Entertaining Story.

wpDiscuz