Perfect Ten: The biggest MMO stories of 2017

One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.

Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.

So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.

1. The great lockbox controversy

Sure, lockboxes weren’t anything new, but a perfect storm over them erupted this year thanks to brewing public opinion, red-hot developer quotes, debates over their legality, bans in certain countries, and a little game called Star Wars Battlefront II. As studios attempted to defend their inclusion in games, players pushed back against predatory marketing tactics. While lockboxes are probably here to stay, at least a conversation over them began on a much larger scale than ever before.

2. Disney cans Marvel Heroes

Weeks before it happened, we were reporting that there was something very amiss with Marvel Heroes. The once-popular and well-liked superhero MMO went dark this past fall, with disturbing rumors of sexual harassment and declining sales hovering about. The omens proved accurate; Disney finally cut off Gazillion entirely and pronounced the death of Marvel Heroes, which was closed sooner than expected and all of its team laid off the day before Thanksgiving.

3. Blizzard shocks us with World of Warcraft Classic

“But I understand that for some of you — your favorite flavor is vanilla.”

With those words, Blizzard officially embraced legacy servers at BlizzCon 2017, announcing the development of World of Warcraft Classic. While details and a timeframe for Classic is still unknown, it’s mere existence delighted nostalgia-seeking players who wanted to go back to an earlier and more challenging era of the game.

Hey, meet my guy.

4. Secret World Legends reboots and revives

In 2016, The Secret World was in a serious slump, with little to no new content arriving and Funcom’s sales slipping away. Little did we know that the studio was preparing a daring gambit to relaunch the game as Secret World Legends, which it did to pretty high acclaim this summer. With sales on the uptick and development revved up once more, Secret Worlders have a future to look forward to once more. Even if that future is the end of everything as we know it.

By the way, do you remember that time when Johnny Depp’s production company announced a Secret World TV show? We thought we dreamed that up.

5. Battle royale games become the new hotness

H1Z1 who? Daybreak might have been one of the first studios to get a battle royale game on the scene, but it was soon shoved aside in favor of two other titles this year. Both Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds racked up massive communities and become bona fide phenomenons of online gaming, with millions of players flocking to these titles and even more watching. Our prediction? Expect a wave of copycats in 2018, because we’re already seeing them rush to get through the door before this bubble bursts.

Stop. Think. Ask if you're allowed to be here.

6. It was a great year for MMO expansions

I don’t think any of us will stand up and say that 2017 was awesome for brand-new MMO launches — it was pretty anemic, all things considered. But there were some strong, enjoyable, and high-profile expansions that picked up the launch slack, such as Stormblood, Morrowind, Mordor, Kamasylvia, The Fall of Oriath, and Path of Fire. This wasn’t a pure expansion, but Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon update added an open world zone and brought that game one big step closer to being a real MMO. These expansions and more got us excited and brought us back to the games. Heck, even the mere announcement of Battle for Azeroth served as World of Warcraft catnip for some.

7. Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 drama melts the internet

The repeated delays of Star Citizen’s Alpha 3.0 and the thinning patience of its long-suffering community came to a head in July when the team announced that the alpha was still nowhere near ready for primetime. The internet erupted, dogs and cats started living together, and the war on Christmas was canceled this year in favor of a war on Star Citizen. The studio had to repeatedly defend the delays and ramped up communication about the progress of the build. Will it arrive by the end of 2017 or slip into another calendar year? We shall see!

8. Ashes of Creation becomes the largest MMORPG Kickstarter to date

“Go, Ashes, go!” That was our chant back in May, when we saw Ashes of Creation sprint through one of the most exciting Kickstarter campaigns in recent memory to become the most-funded MMORPG on that platform at $3.27 million. With a strong showing at conventions, an expansion of the development team, and more sales on the website, this MMO became the game to watch in 2018 and beyond.

9. Several MMOs sailed off into the sunset…

Despite being huge stories, announcements of MMO sunsets are ones that we never enjoyed writing. This year we bid farewell to some beloved games such as Landmark, Asheron’s Call, Club Penguin, Master X Master, and Firefall, among others.

And then there were the MMOs that didn’t get canceled but were put into maintenance mode, including Perpetuum Online, Age of Conan, the original Secret World, and Anarchy Online.

10. …while a few new ones appeared on the scene

There were a few launches of note in 2017, particularly Revelation Online, Albion Online, Kritika Online, and (depending on if you count it) Destiny 2.

We also said hello to a handful of new titles that kept the MMO dream alive. There was Fractured, a sandbox MMO that (for once) wasn’t all about open world PvP; Cryptic’s unnamed Magic: The Gathering MMO that had absolutely no follow-up; Ascent: Infinite Realm, a neat-looking steampunk title; and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an MMOARG from the Pokemon Go folks.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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27 Comments on "Perfect Ten: The biggest MMO stories of 2017"

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Sray

I remember back during August and September thinking “wow, nothing is happening in MMO news; MOP is so boring”. October and November teamed up to change that.

And the whole EA thing is really reaching past just the gaming community. I’ve had several non-gamer friends ask me “why is everyone mad about this Star Wars game?” And more than a few being quite disgusted with the answer. I know many of us are sick of this conversation because MMO gamers have been having it for months already (years in some cases), but it looks to me like this is really just getting started.

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Alex Willis

Part of me would almost put the Warframe story in the “New MMO appears on the scene” category. I admit it’s more accurately placed in the Expansion category but…honestly, I’m still utterly consumed by the game. It’s shockingly good fun for a loot grinder. Next to Path of Fire, it’s my favourite MMO experience of 2017.

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Jonny Sage

Dont forget about the Repopulation drama, or was that last year?

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Sally Bowls
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Alex Malone

Good list, only thing I’d have left off was number 5 (battle royal hotness) as it has nothing to do with MMOs

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Jeffery Witman

Whether you like it or not, a lot of the MMO market crosses over with the MOBA market, and there’s a few titles that blur the lines between the two genres. It’s going to affect the MMO market in a very big way.

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Sally Bowls

Well, if this was some rando survival game, I would agree. But PUBG was so successful, it may/will affect MMOs. PUBG’s success may entice some studios to fail at making a survival game instead of MMO. a/k/a “suck the oxygen out of the room” for game development resources. E.g., LotRO may not have been helped when Turbine decided they wanted to be in the MOBA market.

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Alex Malone

Whilst I agree it could have a knockon effect, thats not a good enough reason to add it to the list. If it actually does have an effect, then we could add it.

Otherwise, we could add things like Brexit, or the upcoming Net Neutrality vote, to the list as they could have an effect as well.

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Paragon Lost

elf butts and zombies.

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Geoffrey Smith

We are never gonna solve the lockbox crisis really. Which is a shame. I am glad there is at least more dialogue about it, but it honestly seems like something that is just not going to go away.

Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much, in the sense of I would never pay for anything in a game I didn’t want. BUT…. there really needs to be a better way to do this.

SWL was certainly my favorite part of the year. I am still surprised by how much I enjoyed what they have done and how it seemed to reinvigorate an otherwise dead game.

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roo woods

If the EU decides it constitute gambling and passes legislation to prohibit it then the problem of lockboxes will be solved pretty dam quickly on any european server .

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Jonny Sage

The solution is stop endorsing it by taking part. If they werent making money off it, they wouldnt very well be doing it.

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CMDR Crow

At a certain point we can only do things for ourselves. Without intent, I’ve found myself dropping games with heavier cash/microtransaction elements not out of principle but because those elements simply make the game far less enjoyable to play.

And many of them are downright GOOD games, too. Like BDO. A great game that I drifted away from because cash=power. I can deal with the grind no issue, but inevitably a game like that will start to grate on most if they don’t ever employ the cash-shop.

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Geoffrey Smith

I think that is the most likely outcome as well. The games that are just aggressively bad about it will be weeded out and the industry will eventually settle on a model that is “Acceptable” to most.

For me, take a game I enjoy, like STO. Which has an ugly model with lockboxes and microtransactions. As much as I like the game, and still play it from time to time, I would never actively play it for long due to the way it pushes those elements so hard with little relief.

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CMDR Crow

STO is actually one of those games for me :)

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Geoffrey Smith

You’ll get no argument from me about how aggressively not good its model is.

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kelem

Pantheon ROTF rebounding from a failed kickstarter and moving up the MMO ranks to place #1 on mmorpg.com for most anticipated game and moving into Pre Apha testing is an awesome mmo story for 2017 as well !😊

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Melissa McDonald

I think also noteworthy is the foray of real A-class MMOs into the mobile space. Black Desert Online, FF, Lineage, B&S, Albion… and more to come I would expect.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Too early? anything could happen between now and 31 Dec :-)

SWL reboot deserve its place in the list, classic wow too, these the most important points for me.

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ensignedwards

I realize there are differing points of view and not everyone is as bitter as I, but the entry on Legends should probably at least make mention of the deep rifts the reboot caused in the community and the fact Funcom straight-up lied to the players for months leading up Legends’ announcement. They repeatedly told us new content was in production for TSW, only for that “new content” to turn out to be maintenance mode.

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athiev

Also that the population seems to be back down to pre-relaunch levels.

xpsync
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xpsync

Secret World Legends reboot should be number 1, but that’s me, why can’t something positive lead?

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ensignedwards

I’m not sure how “the loyal players who kept Funcom in business for years are lied to for months and then have the rug pulled out from under them and all their progress invalidated” qualifies as a positive story.

xpsync
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xpsync

Every single person in my core groups is a TSW vet, from day one most of them, I’m the only odd ball of the bunch (well not entirely true lol)
I have asked many of them exactly what you said “rug pulled out from under them” because i said that i would probably feel major butt hurt like you are, the nutshell is they are so glad the game has life again, they are the true loyal players of of this game unlike you so i wouldn’t go around speaking for them anymore.
They would rather see the game come back to life and flourish than to be bitter about their trivial little 1st world problem. Many of them had the museum done in the old game. Overall i have to say I’m impressed with their attitudes tbh. But when you are a true vet and this is the game you love, they are glad Funcom did what needed to be done to save their dying, errr sry dead game.

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CMDR Crow

I’m honestly confused how we seem to have a strong negative reaction to the “nickle-and-dime,” cash-focused MMOGs out there while at the same time praising SWL, which is a game that was entirely developed around microtransactions. Lockboxes abound and you can buy power and cash-shop items which can literally bring you to pinnacle endgame by spending a few thousand dollars.

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ensignedwards

Criticism over micro-transactions has always been highly selective. A good example would be Overwatch, which is about as crystal clear of an example of a game that exists only as a lootbox vending machine but never seems to get any heat for it.

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Rumm

Probably because Overwatch lootboxes have absolutely zero impact on gameplay whatsoever, and you can earn enough currency by simply playing the game to unlock basically any skin that you could ever want. I have like 10k gold saved up for the Winter event, and that’s just in case I don’t get the skins that I want from just playing the game for that month-long span.

Overwatch is an example of how to do lootboxes properly.

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