The Daily Grind: What was the worst MMO trend of 2017?


Earlier this week, we posted our award celebrating what we thought was the best MMO-related trend of the year: a renewed focus on building MMO community and dev communication. Naturally, we need to flip that around and consider the worst trends, too.

I feel like lockboxes would be a dull and obvious pick even though so many MMOs played around with them this year, so let me go off in a different direction. I noticed a lot of developers – not just EA, but MMORPG devs specifically – seemingly deliberately using anchoring tactics when it comes to their cash shops. Studios like ArenaNet and Trion would do something wild – like, say, put up a $100 random mount or dozens of random mounts in cheapie boxes – to see what the market would tolerate, anchoring the original prices in our minds and manufacturing that new baseline, that new normal, even if they then retreated slightly after player pushback.

That kind of manipulation bugs me. I know we’re always subject to it, but it seemed particularly overt this year. What else did you notice was a bad trend over the last 12 months? What was the worst MMO trend of 2017?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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hand wringing

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I see a tie here: Nickle and diming players while at the same time reducing quality and quantity of game content. Thinking broadly, this includes the increasing pervasiveness of lock boxes/gambling as well as offensive prices in cash shops. Note: I am not against cash shops or developers making money, so please pay attention to the use of adjectives. I believe that trend ties with the always present, but seemingly rampant now, copy cat approach to game development. Do all new games need to be survival sandboxes? Are we heading to the next wave, all new games need to be Player Unknown? Can it be that there will never be a solid PvE MMO again? Seems that way from where I sit.

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Star Citizen’s disaster hasn’t even aired yet today and the news page is filled with Harbingers of Doom! Gaming!

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Hmm hard one to pin, mostly because I had a very very rough year full of loss and had better things to care about than some suit cackling in his office.

I personally felt most annoyed by the surge of copycat games swarming and saturating every space. Lootboxes and greed I can avoid through simple responsible behaviour, but if the goodies I crave for are not developed there’s precious lil I can do other than sigh and clench what I got. Even when the product would not deserve that.

I don’t like shooters, pvp, mobas, retropixels, whatever hybrid you got there for me. Eventually, a year where the industry’s low hanging fruit happens to be my cup of tea will have to come.

Before I retire possibly?


This is now the end of my 4th year without finding an MMO worth playing. The main things that continually put me off:

  • Action Combat – I fucking hate it! 5 skills and mouse buttons….I’m not a fucking moron!
    I can handle complex rotations, loads of situation skills, resource management, interclass dependence etc. I want depth added back to my combat, I don’t want a combat system I can master in 5 minutes!
  • Vertical Progression – it’s just totally unsuited to a massively-multiplayer environment.
    It segregates your community and trivialises most content. Every MMO that comes out shows us that it doesn’t work well, yet nobody tries anything else! Have some balls and give horizontal progression a proper try.
  • F2P / cash shops – I understand the business logic, but it has always resulted in a worse game and worse community. I won’t support a business model that gives me a worse game,
    I especially won’t touch a game which uses it unethically (lockboxes etc)

All these trends were started before 2017, but they’ve all continued for too long. The only one that might go away is vertical progression. Some of the indie MMOs in development are aiming for horizontal progression, so if they get it right then the mainstream might follow.

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You’re not alone, I think it’s 2 years without MMOs for me now. Your points are spot on. (I don’t necessarily hate action combat, but yeah, it always bores or annoys me in the end, I much prefer a good tab target system)


The ever-growing monetization creep as companies push more and more ways to milk whales and punish those who don’t buy into their BS. It’s heavily affecting AAA games at this point where most of them all have lockbox systems attached now, which is ridiculous when the true cost of a game is often $80-$120 as-is due to DLCs/Season Passes/Deluxe+ Editions.

MMOs of course have pioneered a lot of practices that the AAA industry has been using, so we’re seeing crap like Trion continue to find more ways to get whales (though TBH the $100 shenanigans shouldn’t be surprising when they already sold Legendary weapons in Defiance for like $95 or some crap like that a few years ago). Lockbox progression is becoming more and more a thing which is ludicrous. It’s just dumb how so many games are relying on the biggest low-effort, downright sleazy methods to get more money out of people by catering to gambling addictions.


I’ll echo other sentiments and say lockboxes. It’s not that I think lockboxes are evil (I don’t), it’s the way some games monetize them so heavily that irks me. I like a gamble box as something fun or silly to throw some money at, especially if I enjoy the game I’m playing. But don’t lock critical items behind lockboxes, and don’t gently (or not so gently) nudge me at all times to dump cash into them. RNG real money progression should never be a thing, and unfortunately it too often is the best/only way. It’s a bit frustrating.


$100 mounts

Robert Mann

Expansion of thousands of dollar items/backer tiers. Yuck.