Ask Mo: Scoring last year’s Massively OP MMORPG predictions

As we do every year, today we’re going to squint back a year, into the depths of a Massively Overthinking from the tail end of 2015 when we issued our predictions for 2016. Sure, sure, it’s a little unfair since we usually egg each other on to make wild and bold assertions for the fun of it — plus that makes the hits all the sweeter — but all the same: Did we nail it or fail it?

World of Warcraft

Mixed: “The downward trend in global MMO subscriptions will continue throughout 2016, with World of Warcraft getting a spike when Legion is released but falling down to below 4 million subs.” -Brendan [Spike and downward trend, yes. Current count unknown.]

Mixed: “I think World of Warcraft will see another huge boost in subs when Legion launches in, let’s say, September, but we won’t know about it because Blizzard isn’t talking about that anymore, ahem. It’ll lose almost all of them within six months.” -Bree [Boost, yes. We’ll have to see about six months. And it launched August 30th.]

Mixed:World of Warcraft: Legion launches in July of 2016. While its systems are praised and the leveling game is strong, the endgame model undergoes some hasty revisions in the wake of negative feedback, with challenge mode dungeons becoming queueable and more token-based rewards moving in. There’s no indication that the content droughts are going anywhere, however, and by the end of the year people are already steeling themselves for another year without any content.” -Eliot [Intriguingly, Blizzard seems determined to rid itself of that drought stigma. We’ll see whether it lasts.]

Mixed: “Blizzard will make money and World of Warcraft’s subscriber count will end the year at 7 million.” -Justin [Blizzard is rolling around in its piles of cash. Seven mil seems as good a guess as any.]

Miss:World of Warcraft’s Legion will fall flat and the game will continue to bleed subscriptions.” -Larry [Not yet. Give it another half year?]

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Star Citizen

Mixed:Star Citizen’s crowdfunding will finally dry up once it’s past the 100 million mark. […] I would expect passive organic growth will push it to 105 million by launch, and with aggressive enough marketing it could top out at 120-125 million, but that’s just an educated guess. On the development side, I predict that Star Citizen will see slow but steady progress throughout the year and the sky will not fall on us.” -Brendan [As I type this, the game has raised $137 million, but progress marches on.]

Mixed:Elite: Dangerous continues to quietly acquire the features that Star Citizen promises without half of the fanfare, while the long wait for Star Citizen in a playable and consistent form begins to finally dampen enthusiasm.” -Eliot [Based on the money alone, enthusiasm doesn’t seem dampened.]

Mixed: “RSI will delay Star Citizen several times, sending the fanbase into a tizzy.” -Justin [How does one delay that which has no release date? S42, however, got a real delay.]

Mixed: “The genre is primed for a revival, and leading that charge will be Star Citizen. […] By the end of the year, it will have settled into a niche [with] a hugely loyal playerbase that only plays that one game because it holds everything they’ve ever wanted in an online game.” -Larry [Not there yet, though I share the impression a lot of backers are not MMORPG players on the whole.]

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Miss:Star Wars: The Old Republic will double in size by summer thanks to the movies. Expect a tie-in expansion.” -Bree [It got a boost, but not double, and few movie tie-ins.]

Mixed:Star Wars: The Old Republic continues along its new story course before introducing another expansion mid-year that focuses far more heavily on allowing players to form teams of two for challenging multi-stage content. It also diversifies its reward structure to encourage playing with another player as your companion.” -Eliot [Several expansions, in fact.]

Miss: “BioWare’s final chapter in the new SWTOR storyline will hold a shocking revelation and jump us forward in time so that players will be right alongside the new movies.” -Justin [No dice.]

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Guild Wars 2

Hit:Guild Wars 2 won’t [get another expansion in 2016], but it’ll get plenty of hefty patches as it tries to reclaim all the loyalists it alienated in 2015.” -Bree [Whether it succeeded is still up for debate.]

Mixed:Guild Wars 2 stumbles on the post Heart of Thorns update, with players clamoring not for the first time that the game is lacking in much to do once you’re done with the core experience. Little is done with raiding as a concept, and by the time the game announces its next big content update they seem to have been quietly dropped.” -Eliot [Heart of Thorns was contentious indeed, but raiding isn’t going anywhere.]

Ha-ha: “ArenaNet will announce the second expansion for Guild Wars 2 called ‘We’re nuking Cantha so no one can ever go there ever again, just because you wouldn’t stop nagging us.'” -Justin [The expansion they’re working on is still under wraps.]

EVE Online

Hit:EVE Online’s subscriber numbers will naturally track with [the genre’s downward] trend, but I predict that daily peak logins will actually rise in 2016 following the Citadel expansion and we’ll get some more awesome sandboxy news stories out of it.” -Brendan [Though we also missed the F2P conversion.]

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Final Fantasy XIV

Miss:Final Fantasy XIV will get another expansion.” -Bree [Nope, but it got an announcement for one.]

Mixed:Final Fantasy XIV will announce its second expansion near the end of the year after more regular and well-received updates, continuing to chart more or less the same course while quietly gathering momentum. A major push to improve the existing housing system will be one of the big centerpieces around the middle of the year, allowing players more freedom to purchase a house compared to the existing limitations. The game begins to market more aggressively as the year goes on as well.” -Eliot [Marketing has continued to be lackluster, but well done on the housing bit.]

Daybreak

Miss: “I actually think we’ll get a ton of EverQuest Next info next year.” -Bree [Sigh.]

Hit: “Daybreak will finally get its act together, shore up Landmark, expand H1Z1’s survival mode, and start talking about EQ Next again.” -Justin [Bizarrely, this one is a hit, though it wasn’t the talk we wanted to hear.]

Miss: “Lastly, I believe that Daybreak is about to surprise us. I believe the company has been healing. It’s been sitting back, waiting for the air to clear. Sometime next year, we will hear about a major shake up in its suite of games, and people are going to believe that the company has its game-face back on.” -Larry [Game-face still MIA.]

Mead mead mead mead mead mead.

Indies & crowdfunding

Mixed:Crowfall and Camelot Unchained will go neck-and-neck trying to maintain their hold on the PvP and RvR crowds; meanwhile, Lord British will calmly launch Shroud of the Avatar and mop up the roleplayers and PvEers, and Revival will continue to mystify everyone.” -Bree [SOTA did “launch” as an RP haven, but Revival is toast.]

Hit:The Repopulation has to do some major work to turn itself around after its engine woes persist.” -Eliot [Unfortunately still the case.]

Hit: “I think a whole lot of MMO Kickstarters are going to promise awesome things then run out of money about a quarter of the way through development and ultimately become vaporware.” -Matt [We chronicle these in Make My MMO. Still, there were very few this year.]

Trion

Miss: “Trion will announce two more pseudo-MMOs, one an import and one home-brewed.” -Bree [2015 was apparently Trion’s big year.]

Miss: “Trion Worlds will announce that it’s bringing back one formerly dead MMO to life — but which one will be a total surprise!” -Justin [Alas.]

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Other games & studios

Miss:Destiny will finally get a PC port.” -Bree [But Destiny 2 is expected to launch on PC.]

Miss:The Elder Scrolls Online announces its first buy-to-play expansion.” -Eliot [DLC continues, and indeed the game revised its business model this year.]

Miss: “Funcom will announce that Anarchy Online 2 is in the works.” -Justin [File this one under “would be cool but.”]

Mixed:WildStar has a hard time capitalizing on its popularity post-business conversion, but it does continue to bring out updates and there are rumors of a free-to-play expansion for the game.” -Eliot [No expansion yet.]

Hit:Star Trek Online starts discussing another expansion of its own, bringing in parts of the Gamma Quadrant into the game.” -Eliot [An expansion and a console port.]

Hit:Blade & Soul launches a bit modestly, but also does well enough that its future on these shores is relatively assured.” -Eliot [Safe pick.]

Miss: “Cryptic will announce its new game that’s been in development, which will dote on a popular IP and release in early 2017.” -Justin [Not yet.]

Miss: Hit: “Something big will happen for Turbine. Either it gets a new game or it loses one. I have a bad feeling about it on the whole.” -Bree [Though we know the studio is working on a mobile game.] (Edited this one from a miss to a hit, following December’s bombshell.)

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Business and industry

Hit: “I think we’ll see some more big crowdfunding-style innovations in MMO business models throughout the genre in 2016.” -Brendan [At the very least, equity crowdfunding for scrubs is new to the genre, by law.]

Hit: “I see 2016 as another recovery year like 2015. It’s not going to get a ton of traditional 2005-era themeparks. The games that exist will buff up or wither, and the new games are blending genres.” -Bree [Going nowhere fast.]

Hit: “VR will continue to earn skepticism rather than consumer dollars.” -Bree [Sales numbers back this up.]

Hit: “Two new MMOs are announced, big titles like Crowfall move into more large-scale testing, and existing games try to break out of ruts. If 2015 was a year of recovery, 2016 is one in which we’re all looking to tomorrow and feeling excited.” -Eliot [Crowfall’s in big world testing now, and we have new MMOs on the horizon indeed.]

Mixed: “We will see an unexpected resurgence in the MMO genre. […] I view 2016 as the make-it-or-break-it year for MMOs, and despite other companies having successful MMOs, I believe [Daybreak and Cloud Imperium] hold the keys for the future of the genre.” -Larry [Someone should get those keys from Daybreak before it tries to drive.]

Hit: “From 2016 on out the M will stand for Many. That’s right — Many Multiplayer Online. Or Maybe Multiplayer Online? It doesn’t matter the number of players really, because the industry will embrace the private shard idea of games.” -MJ [Quite a resurgence of player-run shards games now.]

E-sports and fringe MMOs

Hit: “Multiplayer sandboxes like ARK and OARPGs like Marvel Heroes will continue to pull attention from the MMORPG market.” -Bree [Continues to be the case.]

Hit: “We’ll see some big movements in e-sports, with more sports channels picking up coverage of major MOBA tournaments and more official e-sports organisations and academies popping up.” -Brendan [Indeed, and rumblings of pro gamer unionization.]

Hit: “There’ll be intense competition in the competitive team-based shooter market as a lot of very similar games like Overwatch, Gigantic, Paragon, Battleborne, Paladins, Wildfire, Battlecry, and Lawbreakers, start to release and try to find their feet.” -Brendan [The new MOBA/shooter pace is overwhelming.]

Hit: “MMOs and ARPGs and WTHs will be spawning like invading alien pod critters taking over the planet.” -MJ [They’re coming outta the goddamn walls.]

Camelot Unchained

How did you do?

If you posted predictions along with us last year, how did you do? (Hold off on making new ones for now; we’ll have those coming soon!)

Are video games doomed? What do MMORPGs look like from space? Did free-to-play ruin everything? Will people ever stop talking about Star Wars Galaxies? Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and mascot Mo every month as they answer your letters to the editor right here in Ask Mo.
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