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


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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