Massively OP’s 2018 Awards: Biggest MMO Surprise of 2018

    
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Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for the Biggest MMO Surprise of 2018, which is a new meta-award for MOP this year. We’ve done roundups of big surprises before, but never isolated it to its own category for the awards. This year, we thought it was worth it because it’s something a big different from just a big story or disappointment or blunder: It’s something nobody saw coming at all. This ol’ genre still has a few tricks left, right?

The Massively OP staff pick for the Biggest MMO Surprise of 2018 is…

The Buyouts of Trion Worlds & CCP Games

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Augmented Reality games getting better. I don’t just mean POGO, but aspects of Jurassic Park and Walking Dead making what could be simple clones feel like what a mobile MMO should be. Not just a simplified, automated MMO on your phone, but a mechanics supported and enhanced by having social systems/play in a persistent environment. It’s weird that, over the last year, I’m meeting more and more gamers of all ages that lack a PC but do a lot of gaming on their phones. Having something social and persistent that they can bring with them is just such a joy, especially as I personally continue to try to integrate my hobby with rebuilding a social life that’s not centered around the card table holding up my gaming PC.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): The CCP Games Buyout. We’ve known for years that CCP Games has been looking at options such as selling the studio or going public with an IPO, so we knew that the firm’s existing financial investors were interested in an exit, but I don’t think anyone expected them to sell the studio to Korean developer Pearl Abyss. In retrospect, an uneasy investor situation makes sense of some of the studio’s more questionable past business moves in the past, such as daring to tell people that DUST 514 could be the biggest game in the world, making a big bet on VR when market viability was still uncertain, and last year’s mass layoffs. Pearl Abyss buying CCP Games outright was certainly a surprise, but so far there hasn’t seemed to be any major change to EVE Online as a result of it. There’s some cause for hope due to the fact that the old purely financial investors are being replaced with a studio that understands the games industry and seems to have similar vision on long-term hardcore MMOs, but I think we’ll still have to wait some time to see how the move plays out.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I went with the huge buyouts this year: Trion being bought out by Gamigo and CCP Games being bought out by Pearl Abyss. The fact that these studios were having issues over the last couple of years was certainly public knowledge, but I didn’t see buyouts specifically coming, nor would I have guessed which companies would be doing the buying – that it was Pearl Abyss and Gamigo really threw me. I’m still not sure whether these were entirely happy or sad surprises; probably a little of both, since I’m sorry to see people laid off but still hopeful to see the games live on.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Trion/CCP buyouts. I haven’t the experience or the insight to even guess what the money people are thinking with regard to these moves, and that lack of knowledge almost always leaves me more worried than excited. The Trion buyout just doesn’t rub me the right way, while the CCP buyout seems to be just that little bit more beneficial. Only just, though.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Trion got bought out? Completely? Sans any warning? What the what?

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I really didn’t see Torchlight Frontiers or the LOTRO progression server coming, and both were the biggest surprises that I enjoyed in 2018.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Pearl Abyss buys CCP/Gamigo buys Trion: Who saw this coming? Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but both of these buyouts completely blindsided me, especially Pearl Abyss buying CCP.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): For my Out of the Blue, What Just Happened?! award, I present Trion’s buyout. We’ve come to expect layoffs (not just at Trion but elsewhere), but to hear an announcement about a big publisher getting bought by another with no whispers beforehand? That’s something. When you have to go back and make sure you’ve read something right, that was definitely a surprise. Will this be a good or bad one? Well, time is going to tell on that.

How does Massively OP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together over the course of a few days to discuss candidates and ideally settle on a consensus winner. We don’t have a hard vote, but we do include written commentary from every writer who submitted it on time so that you can see where some of us differed, what our secondary picks were, and why we personally nominated what we did (or didn’t). The site’s award goes to the staff selection, but we’ll include both it and the community’s top nomination in our debrief in January.

The Buyouts of Trion Worlds & CCP Games took our award for Biggest MMO Surprise of 2018. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO surprise of 2018?

  • The CCP Games and Trion Worlds buyouts (25%, 158 Votes)
  • Torchlight Frontiers announced (7%, 47 Votes)
  • LOTRO and RIFT getting progression servers (7%, 43 Votes)
  • Augmented reality games surging (1%, 7 Votes)
  • The Daybreak Columbus Nova affair (8%, 54 Votes)
  • Fallout 76's launch disaster mess (8%, 51 Votes)
  • The Blizzard and Diablo Immortal mess (17%, 112 Votes)
  • Lockbox legislation and investigations around the globe (4%, 24 Votes)
  • Riot's sexism expose and lawsuit (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Rockstar's crunch problem (1%, 4 Votes)
  • The push for games industry unionization (1%, 9 Votes)
  • ArenaNet's PR fiascos (4%, 26 Votes)
  • WildStar's sunset and Carbine's closure (4%, 26 Votes)
  • The AAA MMO pivot to mobile (2%, 13 Votes)
  • Atlas announced (4%, 24 Votes)
  • Wild West Online's sudden launch (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Nothing (3%, 22 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 528

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Poll options include all surprises nominated plus a few others we thought deserved consideration!
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GamingSF

I have to wonder what on earth is happening in Blizzard at the strategy level. Legion was such a success, BFA is wasting a lot of goodwill among the playerbase – the tanker is taking way too long to turn on the gameplay systems they messed up. As for Diablo Immortal I can only comment on just how excited bloggers/podcasters were before Blizzcon and how none of them were overjoyed with the announcement. Whether this is a serious turning point for the company’s fortunes, or simply them making so much money from a new platform (mobile) that PC gamers become an irrelevance remains to be seen…

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donvweel

Probably WoW classic.

anarresian
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anarresian

Heh, it was my first thought too. But it was announced in 2017.

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Sorenthaz

Buyouts for sure. Most of the things on that list (Fo76’s launch, Diablo Immortal, Sexism in Riot Games) aren’t really that surprising, just disappointing/irritating.

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Utakata

The removal of optional side quests in Blade & Soul.

While can understand this may not be a deal for everyone else, it is big deal for me. And why did they remove them? And yes, it wasn’t something I predicted NC would ever do with this game. /bleh

The others on this list go without saying.

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Bruno Brito

It was pretty expected for me. I found B&S world to be as shallow as a frog’s pond.

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Teh Beardling

I would say the biggest surprise for me was blizzards performance over the year. Not just the fiasco that was the diablo immortal announcement but the state of WoW from BfA pre-patch forward. I am not sure which I find more troubling. The fact that I feel the corporate side has completely taken over the development side in regards to green-lighting, or how deaf blizzard has become to its customer base. I am starting to think that all the dev’s jumping ship as of late from blizzard wasn’t just burn out. Probably saw the corporate signs on the horizon and jumped ship. As my friend said a week into BfA’s launch. “I always thought the only thing that could kill WoW was Blizzard and it looks like they are finally doing so.”

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Armsbend

I could add how their other franchises are just muddling along as well. Overwatch regurgitating the same events over and over again. Redos of old RTS games. Diablo nothing again.

It is apparent they want to maximize profit while doing the least amount possible – a change imo.

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Teh Beardling

I agree, It’s such a shame too. Blizzard used to be such a great developer in my eyes and you could tell that the people who made the games wanted people to have a great time, not just pay money. I feel that’s no longer the case sadly. The Profits first mentality I feel will likely end up hurting them in the long run too. Which means even lower quality. It’s a vicious cycle :(

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Sorenthaz

And it’s very telling that things aren’t looking very good when the only new game to look forward to is a mobile game that isn’t even being made by Blizzard.

Only other two things are essentially recycles with WoW Classic and WC3 Reforged (WC3 Reforged is basically them throwing in a new graphics engine layered on top of the existing game and making adjustments from there).

I mean I’m definitely excited for both Classic and Reforged but at the same time it doesn’t look like Blizzard still has many of their creative innovators left.

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rafael12104

Trion surprised me more than CCP. Always had the feeling CCP was going to be snapped up. But, Trion? I’m sorry, given recent events, why? Heh. My apologies, Trion.

Blizzard’s Immortal miss ranks right up there though. I’ve always felt that Blizz has had a good pulse on what their players want and need. They may not always acquiesce, but they always have been very good at understanding their base. Mainly because at it’s core, Blizz was still a haven for player-devs.

Err, “not no more”. Nope. Old Blizz is dead. Corporate Activision is totally in control and calling the shots. It is an awful realization, but I suppose completely predictable.

The other surprise has been the lackluster year for games in general.

There were a few good games, God of War, RDR2 etc. I think Maplestory 2 is a good addition to our MMO world too.

But this year is a dud overall. Aside from a much weaker line up in comparison to last year, there have been so many debacles it is hard to be optimistic.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

The BlizzCon Diablo announcement was shocking in its utter tone-deafness. The Trion Worlds buyout was a nasty surprise. I don’t think the consolation of any market is good for consumers.

But the most pleasant surprise of the year was Torchlight Frontiers.

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

Not to spoil the future, but I have a feeling the Diablo Immortal thing will come up again.

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Denice J. Cook

The Blizzard Diablo fiasco wasn’t quite as surprising to me as Pearl Abyss’ CCP buyout, because Blizzard/Activision had already shown their true colors during BfA’s beta and launch.

miol
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miol

Those buyouts were certainly the biggest surprise in the genre for me too!

But on a personal note: Being able to revisit my favorite MMO-map of all times, the Labyrinthine Cliffs with its Bazaar of the Four Winds (now called the annual Festival of the Four Winds) after 4 years, really hit home! :’)

https://massivelyop.com/2018/07/17/guild-wars-2-is-bringing-back-the-festival-of-the-four-winds-next-week-its-the-next-best-thing-to-cantha/

https://massivelyop.com/2018/07/24/guild-wars-2-festival-of-the-four-winds/

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Armsbend

Trion was surprising but Blizzard falling so far and fast from what I consider two very strong years: 2015 and 16 – was the most surprising to me. It is apparent there is a leadership vacuum. or they simply aren’t using customer satisfaction as a focus point any longer.

I’m going to enjoy watching them suffer in 2019.