That’s right: I started this resolutions business last year, and now I am compelled to continue the tradition. It’s a new year and a new game, so it’s time for some new goals. It’s also a great time to look back over 2017 and see how well I did with my first attempt at in-game goal setting.
Lies piss me off. I have had MMO developers look me in the eye and lie right to my face. I have had PR promise something and then intentionally break that promise with a shrug. I have had studios mail me statements that are not just playing loose with the truth but dropping it on the ground and driving their boot heel right into it. I’ve had studios claim they never said a thing right up until I produce the recording where they very clearly did (always save your recordings, folks). I’ve been doing this a long time, but nevertheless, just when I think I’ve seen everything, I’m confronted with even more shenanigans.
You folks see plenty too! Just last year, in the midst of what was apparently a furied license negotiation, layoffs, community team silence, missed patch dates, and sexual harassment scandal – some or all of which ultimately led to the abrupt end of Marvel Heroes – Gazillion reps claimed to us that “the company is functioning normally.” And don’t even start me on the “sense of pride and accomplishment” line.
Which MMO studio told the biggest fib last year, and what was it?
This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.
But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.
But then I thought, hey, it’s tradition. And why is it a bad thing to aspire to greater things and encourage the studio to reach for those? Should we just roll over and give up on this title that we love? Far be it! So I’m dusting off some old ideas and tossing in a few new ones to give to you my list of 11 things (for 11 years) I want to see happen in 2018 for LOTRO. Let me know what some of your wish list items in the comments too!
It’s tradition around here to take stock of Daybreak’s MMO offerings every year, thanks to the fact that one of the first big stories we did after moving from Massively-that-was to MOP centered on Daybreak’s massive transition from SOE and then round upon round of layoffs, way back in 2015. Last year, we counted it out: Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years – more than most studios will ever launch.
In 2015, you all thought Dragon’s Prophet was the most vulnerable game in the stable. You were right; it shut down, at least on this side of the pond, that same year. Last year, however, you suspected PlanetSide 2 was most likely to crumble, but instead, the game is still going and picked up a largish patch toward the end of the year. How about this year? Has anything changed with the company that once won best studio four years in a row thanks to its one-time reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going? Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll look back on my old predictions and appraise them retrospectively, and I’ll also set new ones for 2018. This article will be spoilerific by nature if you’re not caught up with current developments, so skip for a while it if you’re behind.
Last year, Massively OP commenter deekay_zero proposed this topic as a joke award, but when we ran it as a Daily Grind, it prompted really great responses (in spite of the obvious trolls). As we observed at the time, how you answer depends on what you think actually ails MMORPGs (assuming you think the MMO genre is in trouble to begin with) – whether it’s business model shenanigans or bad design pushing people and companies away, or other genres pulling MMO players out, or something else entirely.
So we wanted to pull the topic out again to see whether the answer has changed. 2017 was a big year for gaming, after all, as we saw the (re)birth of an entire spinoff genre. Did that influence our home genre in a good way or bad? Which game, MMO or otherwise, made the biggest contribution toward killing the MMORPG genre specifically in 2017?
Half an eternity ago, my merry band of MMO PvPers and raiders ran headlong into a gang of roleplayers, and it changed my guild forever. I’ve reminisced before about some of my favorite roleplaying moments in MMOs, many of them in City of Heroes and Star Wars Galaxies, games where the play-your-way pace of the game led to amazing storytelling and impromptu encounters, the kind that make you research obscure planet names, spend hours on the perfect costume, and accidentally stay up until 4 in the morning… typing.
But in the post-SWG, post-City of Heroes era, I dropped out of roleplaying as a core activity. I’m not going to be that jerk on the RP server talking about sportsball, mind you, and I’ll still make sure my toons have appropriate names and sufficient backstory, but I don’t hang out in taverns waiting for something interesting to happen nowadays. And honestly, I’m not entirely sure which MMO would be the ideal home for a roleplayer anyway.
You tell me – what’s the best MMO to roleplay in as of 2018?
Of course, that award was open to all NSM games, not just those that made some sort of effort to launch something playable this year. What if we cut the pool down to just those? What was the best new NSM game in 2017?
As we did in 2014, 2015, and 2016, today I’m going to recap our annual awards and other meta articles from the end of 2017. We gave out 19 formal awards this past year, all in addition to dozens of other recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. It was by far our biggest content dump to date, even bigger than last year!
Following our deep-dive into our awards and the attached reader polls, I’ll be recapping all of the end-year articles in one convenient place in case you missed something over the holidays – enjoy!
I didn’t intend to leave Star Citizen off my personal list of most-anticipated MMOs this year, but I think it’s the first time in several years that I did so. It’s not so much that I’m not looking forward to it – I am! – but that I don’t see the point of getting my hopes up when it still feels so far away from being feature-complete for all the things I want to do in that world. That, and it turns out I have a giant list of other MMOs that are much closer in space and time that just bubbled to the top of my excitement list. This is a great thing for the genre!
If there’s one that used to show up in my list every year but no longer does, even though it’s still technically alive? Probably The Repopulation. Sigh. That reminds me, I’m going to go listen to Sentience again.
What MMOs are you no longer anticipating that you once were?
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
In all our many roundups at the turn of the year, we’ve never done one on the legal dramas that have affected the MMO genre. That changes today!
Of note, there’s…
- the lockbox scuffle as various countries turn their watchful gaze on the industry and self-regulation collapses in a puddle of shrugs;
- the Crytek lawsuit against Star Citizen studio Cloud Imperium;
- the potential for dead online games to skirt DMCA laws;
- multiple Pokemon Go-inspired lawsuits and criminal trials;
- the end of the Warner Bros. and Tolkien estate lawsuit;
- the continuation of the Oculus/ZeniMax Media lawsuit;
- the cease-and-desist filed against Asheron’s Call emulators;
- and a whole ton of Blizzard lawsuits, including the capsizing of the Bossland cheaters following multiple Blizz victories.
My favorite, however, is Andrew’s research into whether lockboxes legally constitute gambling – from last January. Enjoy!