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


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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