Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Biggest MMO Story of 2017

Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Story, which was awarded to the death of EverQuest Next last 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 2017. 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 MMO Story of 2017 is…

THE GREAT LOCKBOX/LOOTBOX DEBATE

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): This whole lootbox situation. We as a genre have been dealing with it about as long as mobile games have. The fact that western AAA companies latched onto it after the recorded history of its issues in Asia is downright embarrassing. Maybe it’s my American pride, but I keep feeling like our industry should have come up with something better by now, rather than taking gambling and putting it in a digital dress. Runner up to this whole Marvel Heroes stuff. It was a game I kept trying to get my brother and other friends to jump into ’cause I keep hearing good things. Not only has the game been executed, but it was rushed through the system to put it down. Yeesh!

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Last year I predicted that law enforcement and governments around the world would be forced to finally start tackling gambling in online games accessible by children and vulnerable adults, and I’m happy to see it finally happening. It was inevitable when the CS:GO Lotto story broke last year, but the issue finally made waves in the mainstream media this year thanks to the backlash to Star Wars Battlefront 2’s abusive loot box mechanics. Now multiple countries are seeking to regulate loot boxes and virtual gambling, hopefully we’ll see more progress on it in 2018.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna): When people weren’t gaping at Star Citizen this year, they were happily chewing on the lockbox debate. No story has been bigger for our genre this year, and I’m actually relieved that somebody other than die-hard MMORPG players is finally paying attention to the growing problem we’ve been complaining about helplessly for years.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre): The thing is that no MMO hit anything nearly as bad as the Star Wars Battlefront II mess, but MMOs have had lockboxes of various forms kicking around since forever. This year was just the year when lockboxes started to become a bigger deal all across the board. And that’s why this is important, because the way this discussion goes now is going to have a long-term impact on lockboxes in the future. In other words, it wasn’t something that’s blindsiding us; it’s something that’s going to change the landscape in the long-term.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster): WoW Classic’s announcement. Few things got me bouncing up and down in my chair when I saw Blizzard fully and publicly embrace a vanilla server for the future, and I’m far from the only one who had to have my jaw surgically reattached afterward. The shockwaves of this announcement are still being felt throughout the World of Warcraft community, probably for a long time to come.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe): I think the biggest story is related to Marvel Heroes and Gazillion shutting down. I am just an MMO blogger, so I do not have the expertise to speak extensively on the topic. But there were a lot of things happening behind the scenes at Gazillion that started to come out of the woodwork after the shutdown announcement, and it also shows the relationship between corporate giants and small independent studios. There is just so much to unpack; I cannot get to is all in this little post.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie): Although I know lockboxes is a major ongoing story that’s sweeping the votes here, I am actually going to say Marvel Heroes. Going from seemingly doing well (although PC was getting ignored much of this year) to gone is something, but it is all the little added bits to the story in between that make the story bigger. Problems with alleged improprieties of the CEO (that’s part of a huge story that’s blowing up all over entertainment), dead silence from devs (who were gagged), an unannounced shutdown way earlier than the announced one (that we only learned about because devs leaked it), and the firing of everyone and shutting down of the company was a blow. Not only did we lose a game, we lost a studio. Along with that we lost more trust in the gaming genre. I mean, when suits are quick to screw over the devs that make our games, what hope do we have to not get screwed over as well?

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I couldn’t possibly select anything else other than lockboxes here, especially after ArenaNet chose to dip its toe into the incredibly murky waters with the new, highly coveted mount skins and faced quite a bit of backlash due to that. This goes far beyond my favourite MMO, however, and there are far bigger lockbox stories to come out of studios developing within the genre. I’ve been really interested in the legalities as well as the morality behind lockboxes, and I also am surprised that the genre is heading in this direction when we have so many historical examples of player backlash due to similar mechanics.

The lockbox debate won our award for Biggest MMORPG Story of 2017. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO story of 2017?

  • The lockbox-lootbox debate. (46%, 332 Votes)
  • The death of Marvel Heroes. (15%, 111 Votes)
  • The WoW Classic announcement. (17%, 125 Votes)
  • Secret World Legends' reboot. (4%, 27 Votes)
  • The rise of battle royale clones. (2%, 15 Votes)
  • The influx of MMORPG expansions. (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Star Citizen alpha 3.0 drama. (4%, 26 Votes)
  • Ashes of Creation's record-setting Kickstarter. (3%, 19 Votes)
  • MMO sunsets other than Marvel Heroes - like Asheron's Call. (2%, 11 Votes)
  • The arrival of new MMOs like Destiny 2, Kritika, Revelation Online, and Albion Online. (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Nothing (4%, 29 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments) (2%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 718

Loading ... Loading ...
Poll options include all stories nominated plus a few others we thought had a chance!

MOP’S 2017 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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74 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Biggest MMO Story of 2017"

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Malachi Shoffner

How about the fact that not a single good MMORPG came out this year?

Reader
Thomas

Something else…

The fact that nobody is making a new Guild Wars 1-type game.

It’s amazing to me that the best online multiplayer game ever made (GW1) has yet to be surpassed for sheer, glorious excellence — not even by its own “sequel”, GW2.

Reader
Vincent Clark

What is interesting is that the loot-box mess has now infested older, niche games like LotRO. While not as brazenly nefarious as other games, SSG has decided that after 10 years it was time to actively bleed dry what remaining players they have left. Worse, the continuing outcry on the forum and in-game has been met with complete silence from the executive producer (and a few closed threads by the CM). It’s a shame.

Reader
George

This was a very good year for gamers, as they stood still against some terrible practices with the only weapon they have: their wallet. Hope it lasts.

miol
Reader
miol

I hope this is another moment in history, where consumers are finally fed up by greed once again!

Just like it happened around the time of Atari’s E.T. game in the 80’s, or the burst of the speculation bubble with comics in the 90’s, that was catered by most comicbook publishers, like selling dozens of only slightly different versions of the same release (platinum version; with hologram; with extra certificate; different added posters;…)!

Yes, another shake-out in this industry can hurt deeply, but it also opens up so many new opportunities!
Nintendo would have never existed without that and comics as a medium would have never matured that fast!

Worth to watch:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari:_Game_Over

http://www.amc.com/shows/robert-kirkmans-secret-history-of-comics/full-episodes/season-01/episode-06/image-comics-declaration-of-independents

Reader
Robert Mann

The surge of various ideas outside AAA with regard to MMOs, whether we like them or not. Loot/lockboxes are a big thing to talk about, yes, but in terms of greatest likely impact on the genre the continual push for new ideas, or revisiting old ideas, in a stagnant field for so long is huge.

Reader
qweazdak

the lockbox debate has been going on for a while now, so I didn’t choose it. The recent surge just came up due to star wars (of course not on the list, but IMO the biggest news story). Instead, I chose the death of Marvel Heroes. I think the sudden death was a surprise, not of it closing.

Reader
Jason Clearwater

Asheron’s Call biting the dust.

Reader
Utakata

Lockboxes/lootboxes where also the main subject of many Mr. Schlag’s editorial memes. In fact, there is a fine example of such further down the comments below! <3

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Vote for classic WoW from me. The lockbox debate has been a series of unfolding events, so rather than a story its been multiple stories united by a single topic. And even then, until we see results that impact some of the MMORPG titles on a global level (instead of isolated areas), it’s still developing.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I dont even know what is this lockbox debate thing. If its EA drama about SWBF2 then its not MMO related. Voted for WoW classic announcement since it created HUGE splash in MMO community and thousands posts discussing it

Reader
rafael12104

Biggest story of the year?

Yeah, I’m with Armsbend and others here. The biggest story is the realization that AAA aren’t just out to make a buck, they don’t give a fuck how or what they cause to do it.

Let me just stop your counter arguments right there. I am a Republican. Hard to admit these days, but I bring it up because I am pro business. I believe responsible corporates citizens are out there. But that doesn’t apply to the video game industry.

A wretched hive of scum and villainy. Exaggerating? Not even close. EA has been shilling gamble boxes for years. Started with FIFA and almost got Star Wars to bait another hook. And they know it is gambling, and they know it is habit forming, but you can’t argue with success.

Activision? Not far behind. Look at their DLC strategy. Their excuse for ripping something away from players and making them pay for it again? “We have done this before.” I wish I was making that up.

What about Tencent and all that they represent? All good with gamble boxes and pay to win. It is part and parcel of the strategy overseas.

And BTW, why are predatory practices ok on mobile!!? What, is it a lot harder to spend from your phone? Maybe it’s that kids that use phones are immune to to them! No wait, it is that people that use phones have better rng!

No. My friends the big story this year is that the Veil of the Dark Side has been lifted and we see these bastards for who they really are.

Reader
MesaSage

The biggest story is the non-story. I can’t remember a time since I’ve been following along that there was nothing released and nothing near enough release to greatly anticipate. Sunsets and some expansions and, oh yeah, lockboxes (hooboy our genre is in trouble.).

Reader
Fervor Bliss

Would say the lack of faith in Kickstarter’s would be the biggest for this year. Just seems it will large effect going forward.

Reader
Crowe

I’m not sure if any of those categories really struck me as a biggest story thing. I ended up voting for Marvel Heroes as it was the closest thing on the list. While I agree that the lockbox thing is a big deal, there’s nothing really new about it. Now if some country actually legislates against it (as opposed to just discussing it), that would make it a significantly bigger story. But as is, it’s just the same story that’s been around for years.

flyingltj
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flyingltj

The sunset of Asheron’s Call and the ongoing legal debacle it created.

Reader
matt gourley

I think a big story is black desert online steam sales.. This game did great at launch and after about 3 months it was dieing. Since the launch on steam not only have ten of thousands players found this gem but all the launchers who quit came back and found a much much better game. Game of the year 2017

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Veldan

While lootbox / lockbox is the obvious choice, it’s partially because it’s a very recent (ongoing?) story.

My vote goes to Ashes of Creation. Its kickstarter was a big thing that increased hope for the genre’s future in a significant amount of people, and the controversy surrounding mr Sharif only added to the “big”-ness of it all.

Reader
Rumm

Voted for the rise of battle royale clones. Both PUBG and Fortnite wholly eclipsed the likes of DayZ and H1Z1 in terms of broad appeal and overall reach. As happened with WOW and MMOs, and LoL and MOBAs, I’m confident that we’ll see a slew of new games next year with small iterations that are trying to chase even a small amount of the success that the aforementioned games have had.

kjempff
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kjempff

I am so tiered of the whole lootbox debacle :P
Honestly I couldn’t care less about lootboxes or chancing/gambling items. It is just a placeholder issue for the actual problem, which is free to play with shops.
You could take the point of view that it is a step on the way to transparent pricing, that we discuss lootboxes or make legislation, but in the grand picture it achieves nothing noteworthy.
So we can’t fireproof your house, but how about we paint it in a nice color instead.. don’t you feel much better now ?

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Castagere Shaikura

Why is it people like you blame it all on f2p? Games with monthly subs have shops and do it too. Swtor is the worse of them all.

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connor_jones

Agree completely on the SWTOR cash shop. Not only does the game require a sub for any serious play, but the cash shop is rather pricey and second only to Neverwinter as being the worst I’ve seen.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

@Castagere Sub with shop is no different than f2p in that regard, the issue is transparency in cost. The secondary issue is the decline in game quality which is powered to a very high degree by f2p/shop monetization models because the whole game has to be build around it. Pretty much what @Thomas Zervogiannis said.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Indeed, and actually after reading your comment I need to correct myself as well: I would consider botched game design and quality due to the need to monetize it the primary issue here, with payment model transparency coming a close second.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

A game that is not f2p can, at least potentially, have transparent pricing. Many do not today and that is particularly egregious. Nevertheless, a f2p game can NEVER have transparent pricing, the model is flawed in its roots. Game companies are in it for the money, and that’s fine. So for f2p’s they will invariably hurt the gameplay, in order to monetize it. And then you get in a really slippery slope where they agressively monetize everything nickel-and-dime because, hey, it’s f2p, and you as a gamer need to be careful in every step with every purchase and always question whether you need to buy something as it might improve your gaming experience or not.

I make a living and I will gladly pay for my hobby as long as the pricing is transparent and I can evaluate what I am getting. B2P and sub games usually are better in this respect.

Reader
Thomas Zervogiannis

This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments … an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre

This, in conjunction with the fact that I do not see anything substantial happening re Law vs Lootboxes made me not vote for it, even though it was one of the biggest and most important stories if not the biggest (also due to the BF2 backlash) and it has important implications for the genre. The reason nothing will happen soon is that gamers are also a big part of the problem.

The rise of Battle Royale games also tempted me. You don’t often see the big guys knocked off by a game mode that was not as popular until now.

I eventually went with “something else” because I was surprised to not find this in the list:

Activision secures patent for software to trick you into buying cash shop stuff, seriously

Using patents (which should have positive connotations) to secure mechanisms that adversely affect gameplay (essentially the service that we pay for), most possibly based on psychological/statistical studies, to increase monetization, is downright scary and should get more attention.

Reader
Rumm

Tone and sentiment is spot on, Mr. Ross.

Reader
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Darthbawl

1 vote for “something else” I see. Who voted Elf Butts? LOL

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

That was me and I explained why below.

Reader
Zora

I’m with the influx of expansions, which is not much but I feel is still more relevant than any other option.

Lootboxes exist as a debate in the greater ocean of videogames, it’s not a MMO-story at all. And while I might pick either gazillion or wow classic as legitimate part of the MMO genre, looking hard enough I struggle to consider them “big” stories due to the relatively small impact onto the greater community of MMO players.

Nick
Reader
Nick

MMOs pretty much invented loot boxes. I spent thousands on loot boxes back in the early 2000s in EQ2. This was before most other games were online or followed the “games as a service” model.

Reader
Zora

I agree, but we are talking about the biggest story of this current year and they never made headlines before contaminating the entire industry. Not in the mainstream press, at least.

The current debate is completely removed from our wee niche genre, people just sit here praying the ripples might change things for the better in our minuscule corner whose existence nobody who matters is even aware about.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

Something else: The entire industry going noticeably downhill. I’ve been decrying it for years, but only recently have people started agreeing with me. Kickstarter is a scam. Lootboxes. #metoo touching games with Marvel. Disney making the flex. Most importantly overall quality has taken a nosedive. All signs point towards 2018 being an even bigger disaster.

I wouldn’t vote lootboxes now because it has only been a few weeks. Gamers have already lost interest and starting complaining about coverage – as they are apt to do. Christ in a few articles the writers here started complaining about their own coverage on day 3. The most traffic this site has seen in years (I’m guessing) and the writers are complaining about the subject matter. If the incredible apathy and laziness of gamers could be shoken (not sure if word) off for longer than a month – something might actually happen. It won’t – publishers know this and that’s why we will see lootboxes expand instead of contract.

Reader
connor_jones

Probably a topic for another thread, but I agree completely with you about the industry being in decline. A few cases in point from my personal experience:
Fallout 4 no where near as good as Obsidian’s Fallout New Vegas.
Civilization 6 no where near as good as earlier civ games.
SWTOR going from 8 excellent class stories down to 2 stories down to one, then the KOTFE debacle.
Although I mostly enjoyed STO’s Agents of yesterday, it was rather content light compared to the earlier Delta Rising and Legacy of Romulus expansions.
An uninspired, very average, been there done that Elder Scrolls Online.
The Mass Effect Andromeda debacle.
GW2 seems to be treading water. Maybe not in decline, but not knocking the ball out of the park either.
And don’t get me started on crowdfunding in general and Star Citizen in particular. ;)

Reader
connor_jones

One more worth mentioning…….Although Secret World Legends was generally good, it was recycled content.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Lockbox stories certainly have been the soupe du jour here as of late…

BOX LUNCH... YUCCH.gif
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rafael12104

That is so great! And a little disturbing because if EA and Gang could, they would.

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A Dad Supreme

I thought the force-feeding was representative of all the articles, columns and general mood of the industry right now forcing us to hear “LOCKBOX BAD!”, not EA and gang trying to make us have lockboxes.

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

why can't it be both.gif
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Bryan Correll

I had to go with the collapse of Marvel Heroes. As an outsider to the game I had no idea that the player base had fallen so much and I don’t think anyone expected it to go dark so quickly even Disney announced they were pulling the license. Plus it has the sexual harassment angle thanks to the sleaze-ball running Gazillion which ties it into what might be the biggest story of the year for the US in general as the wave of accusations has been knocking over careers like a house of cards.
The loot box issue is something that those of us who follow gaming news have known was coming. All it took was one major publishers with a major franchise taking things a bit to far to make mainstream media and government officials to start looking at it hard.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

At Marvel’s peak it never was that big a game. Brevnik left the company he started because it never did well – not because it did gangbusters like Path of Exile.

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Brother Maynard

The lockbox debate was made big by SWBF2, so not strictly MMO-related.

And so… nothing.

kh.png
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Paragon Lost

Speaking of of Nihilism, anyone ever wonder where Karl Hungus went to? On topic, agreed the whole lockbox debate is exhausting mentally. Specially when it just feels like we’re all just spinning our wheels with no true substantial changes happening yet.

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Patreon Donor
Veldan

I think he vanished shortly after the end of Livefyre, probably lost the fun after that (for which I don’t blame him, the early days of the new comment system was kind of a bad time here)

Reader
Utakata

I thought I scared him off. :(

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Paragon Lost

That’s too bad. I always enjoyed his wit, even if I didn’t always agree with him.

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Arktouros

Didn’t he get banned?

Either way I got you covered with your daily dose of nihilistic viewpoint!

Reader
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Paragon Lost

Hehe! Awesome on covering the nihilistic point of view! :) Honestly I have no idea, I don’t recall anything warranting banning but I could have missed it.

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rafael12104

Where is Karl??

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

Find the Hungus among us..

a hungus among us.jpg
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Utakata

Lol! :)

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Brother Maynard

I don’t think he’s in the picture – he’s somewhere fixing the cable.

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

as plain as the nose on my face, he is in there;)

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thirtymil

And he ain’t fixing no cable where he’s lying :)

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rafael12104

LOL! Ok, I’m looking…. looking…. damn….

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Paragon Lost

One of our poster’s who went by the posting name Karlhungus or was it just Hungus? The meme reminded me because its the character Karl Hungus in “The Big Lebowski”. :)

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

I voted lock/lootbox, but it’s a tie with what I also consider to be the further MMO-ification of MMO-esque games. As MMOs are my favourite game genre (obviously), normally this would be cause for celebration. But we’ve seen lots of creep of the bad side into games like Destiny 2 — the recent expansion and locking of previously-open content being one such example. I’m not sure I buy the argument that all lock/lootbox mechanics are unique to the MMO genre (we saw them in Mass Effect 3), but it’s safe to say that they flourish here. So, yeah — this has been a bad year optically for MMOs, if only that they are being referred to in shady tones. “I saw that mechanic in an MMO” is something I’ve heard spoken disparagingly quite often this year.

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A Dad Supreme

I voted the WoW Classic announcement. That was huge news considering how long that debate/drama was going on (years) with lawsuits, recriminations and such, plus it concerns the most popular MMO of all time.

Lootbox debate will fade out in a few months, once the new Star Wars movie goes to video.

It’s just hot right now because of the EA thing, which wasn’t even really about an MMO but gaming in any form (MMO, CCG, RPG, etc)

Last year I predicted that law enforcement and governments around the world would be forced to finally start tackling gambling in online games accessible by children and vulnerable adults, and I’m happy to see it finally happening.

Except this didn’t happen in 2017. Try again in 2018, Brendan. Lip service and political postering is not “tackling gambling”, lol.

Brendan Drain
Staff
Brendan Drain

You could choose to look at it as political bluster and posturing or you could choose to look at it as law enforcement and governments just beginning to tackle the issue. We won’t know which it is until we see the progress (or lack thereof) made in 2018 and beyond, but I prefer to hope it’s the latter. Given the silence over the past few years over gambling in games, turning it into a political issue and getting actual attention on it is certainly a step forward.

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Sally Bowls

I agree. People may look back on this as the turning point of lockboxes or peak lockboxes, but there was no “tackling gambling” by governments in ’17. A lot of rhetoric on the interwebs, some verbiage by marginal politicos but no tackling.

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connor_jones

Well said man. Lots of the usual virtue signaling on Twitter and such, but little else.

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Paragon Lost

Agreed, it’s all talk so far or lip service as you said. I went with Marvel but WoW classic almost was my choice, it was close. Basically I was at a coin toss state for either.

Minimalistway
Reader
Minimalistway

I voted for Classic WoW, lockboxes finding attention at last was going to happen soon or later, but Classic? i didn’t see that coming.

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

I love it. it’s the biggest story of the year(rightfully so)and in Mike O’Brien’s apology letter about the mount skin debacle he acted like he had no idea people would take umbrage with it. He knew though. He just didn’t care.

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Arktouros

I voted rise of the expansions.

Shows less and less new titles are being developed/launched these days which was a pretty big shift. Other than Albion I can’t even think of a new title released this year.

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BalsBigBrother

The one that had the biggest impact on me personally is the way Gazillion imploded taking Marvel Heroes with it. Marvel and Disney as brands are somewhat diminished in my eyes for the way they handled their side of things.

I did have a lot of fun with the game and I should count my blessing that I was able to have that fun for as long as I did. Still …. /sigh

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

Same for impact. I think the lockbox thing is really the thing that encompasses all of gaming. It’s like some dev did a talk at GDC a few years back showing how much money they made off of lockboxes and all the marketing people were there and they all decided to implement it. it was so rampant and also so insidious for the most part.

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BalsBigBrother

Well the thing is I have no issue personally with lock boxes, indeed this morning when I played Path of Exile before I left for work I purchased 3 of their new fire and ice lockboxes.

Not really interested in the cosmetics though I did get a nice wing cosmetic. However, by doing so I am supporting a game I enjoy very much and a company who continues to do good things for their players in a way affordable to my circumstances.

I understand why others feel differently about such things I just don’t really agree with what they are asking for in regard to wanting governments to intervene with legislation. I feel that is going to open a whole different sort of Pandora’s box that will have a bigger detrimental impact on my gaming hobby.

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Veldan

To be fair, Path is the only game I know of that has such fair lockboxes, so if legislation would kill the lockbox, would that be such a bad thing? Wouldn’t the loss of Path’s “fair” boxes be a small price to pay for the eradication of all the horrible ones in other games?

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

All I meant by it was that it’s the biggest story because it’s in all of gaming. Lockboxes are all so similar across game companies, genres and countries too. heck, EA was defending them AFTER their apology because they do so well for the company in FIFA.

Off topic: I find it funny that in 2017 we have a Star Wars Arcade style shooter with a circa 2008 Korean MMO-style grind model from an American game giant and the lockboxes are still there sans the cash shop because the company has zero idea how to fix it properly. That’s insane.

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BalsBigBrother

I was just trying to offer a view from the other side of the lock box fence. Its all good and one way or the other gaming is going to change. What the change is who knows, we will all just have to hope for the best :-)

Nick
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Nick

I voted for loot box debate. Closure of MH was a close second, mostly because how the company lied to its player base was reprehensible. The whole situation s case-study worthy but I won’t elevate it to biggest news in the industry. I think the loot is issue is more pervasive and impacts the player base as a whole and it’s great the issue is rising in prominence.

wpDiscuz