Massively OP’s 2018 Awards: Best MMO Trend of 2018

    
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Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for the Best MMO Trend of 2018, which was awarded to the trend of developer communication and community focus last year. This year, all trends were back on the table. 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 the Best MMO Trend of 2018 is…

Progression Servers

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Classic and progression servers. The MMO industry is old enough now that we’re seeing huge waves of nostalgia for days gone by, and that can be a powerful driver of activity and profit. I’ve played on emulated servers for MMOs in the past and recently got crazy into OldSchool RuneScape, so I definitely see the appeal of classic and progression servers and it’s something I would definitely pay a subscription for in many MMOs. I’m not yet totally convinced that everyone clamouring for WoW Classic actually wants to go back to the era of kill-ten-boar quests and no auto-loot, but I’m happy to see Blizzard getting behind it and the new LOTRO progression servers bode well for the future of the idea.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Progression servers. I felt like this was a really easy call this year because so, so many games got them, from RIFT and LOTRO to Age of Conan and even a rumor of one on the way for DDO. And let’s not forget WoW Classic is still cooking! I realize this isn’t an old idea at all; Ultima Online and EverQuest have had oddball servers like these for ages, but I’m thrilled to see developers both figuring out ways to keep these games going and tapping into older-school aesthetics to do it. For a lot of gamers, these servers are their only opportunity to peek into the games of the past, while for others, it’s like going home.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Progression servers. I have no skin in the progression server game, but it’s impossible to ignore just how happy these things make people, particularly in the case of LOTRO. I am all about folks finding things to enjoy in MMOs and gaming in general, so anything that brings more of that is welcome.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Honestly, this year I don’t have very strong feelings on a trend, but it really was a year in which progression servers really took to the streets (as it were) and made big waves. I can’t say it’s a trend that speaks to me, but it sure was a running thing.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Progression and legacy servers are giving veteran MMO players a new way to experience their favorite games. Loving this, would like to see more like it!

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): 2018 was the year of the progression server! Even though other games have had them a while, it feels like more jumped on the special legacy or vanilla server bandwagon. This trend is good because it offers the players an official nostalgic experience or a chance to jump in for the first time alongside everyone else and experience it all together. No gamer left behind!

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.

Progression servers took our award for Best MMO Trend of 2018. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG trend of 2018?

  • The push for progression and legacy servers (28%, 148 Votes)
  • The push to add battle royale modes in MMOs (2%, 8 Votes)
  • The push for mobile integration with MMOs (2%, 9 Votes)
  • The push to build new MMOs on mobile first or only (2%, 11 Votes)
  • Community focus and communication (5%, 25 Votes)
  • Nostalgia-driven content updates (3%, 18 Votes)
  • Game industry unionization (8%, 43 Votes)
  • Console ports or reimaginings (including Switch ports) (3%, 18 Votes)
  • Lockbox crackdowns (21%, 110 Votes)
  • PvP sandboxes making a comeback (5%, 27 Votes)
  • Anti-toxicity efforts (10%, 54 Votes)
  • Always online games that crossover into MMO turf (2%, 13 Votes)
  • Nothing (8%, 44 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 441

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Poll options include all trends nominated plus others we thought had a chance!
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anarresian
Reader
anarresian

Progression servers, yes. I hope it will help companies plan in advance, and not come up anymore with stuff like not having the source code.

Who knows, maybe one day that idea we see sometimes from players, to experiment from there, to continue an old version in a different direction than it has been tried before, will become reality.

Hamblepants
Reader
Hamblepants

I wanted progression server to have subtitle of “The chance to play with younger, firmer Elf-butts.”

Reader
Ittybumpkin

You think you want this, but you don’t……

….What you really want is a mobile game made to nickel and dime you to death…..

….You all have phones don’t you?

Reader
Skoryy

I’m not entirely convinced progression servers are as much a trend as they are a fad. Let’s revisit the nostalgia goggles again in a couple years.

I went with dev unionization, as that should be the trend to wave the pom-poms for. Better labor rights for the people who put these worlds together for us!

Reader
Ittybumpkin

If they are a fad, it has been a fad going on for a while. EQ has had progression servers for years and they keep doing them, so they must have some sort of continuous demand

Palamah
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Palamah

Whilst I have little interest in progression or classic servers, I can understand how many like these servers. And with most of the big MMOs having already launched these servers, or are actively working on them, it’s a clear trend winner this year for me.

Reader
Vincent Clark

Doesn’t it say something that people would rather play an “older” version of your game versus the one you are currently developing?

Zeras
Reader
Zeras

To me, the best MMO trend is actually the shift away by many companies from developing (and flooding the market with) new MMOs. MMO-based games are great, but the saturation point was reached a few years ago and the “correction” going on the last year or so was desperately needed if we were ever going to have a chance to see a return of new and good MMO games.

The progression/legacy server phase is simply a (helpful) filler for the transition period.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Market at this moment is more saturated than ever before. There are much more new MMOs released than closed, so they are adding up monthly. And if we count Asia, Im pretty sure amount of MMOs in development currently is also more then ever before.

Reader
rafael12104

The slow and gaining momentum erosion of the lockbox as acceptable. That would be mine.

Prog servers? Meh, some people enjoy them a great deal, but I see them as a repackaging of old to keep you coming back and spending anew.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Alex Willis

Reactions to prog servers seem to be either a) excitement or b) utter, yawning indifference. I’m in the second category on that front. I get that some are excited about these but…best trend? Yikes.

Kind of represents a grim set of options. I voted for Console Ports and Anti-Toxicity Efforts. The former seems…well…obvious? But I think the latter is a good and new trend that is, very sadly, needed. More often than not, I’ve been surprised at the corporate reaction to toxic gamer culture. We’re in a strange place in our culture right now, where many corporations are leading the ethical push for anti-toxicity. I never thought I would see that. But it’s a good thing and more companies should do it.

MJ Guthrie
Staff
MJ Guthrie

Anti-toxicity would indeed be awesome, but I really don’t see much coming of that area.

Reader
Arktouros

It’s an incredibly complicated issue to fix when you think the whole topic through.

Generally speaking people attack the language being used. So for example back in the day people would call each other idiots, morons, imbeciles, etc which were all words used to refer to the mentally handicapped. So medical professionals came up with the very educated stance of making a new label, mental retardation. Fast forward some decades and now people use that in the same manner and now we’re supposed to use disabled. Fast forward a few decades…

That’s why addressing toxicity is basically impractical when you get down to it. Companies can police or attack the behavior but they can’t really get to the root cause of why toxicity exists in the first place (multiple factors really). Attacking the behavior just leads to people adapting and being toxic in other ways (I could list some examples of this).

Unless you’re willing to go to China’s dystopian levels of social credit scores and crack downs you’re probably going to have to put up with it.

Alex Js.
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

an incredibly complicated issue to fix when you think the whole topic through

Nah, it’s not. Companies just need to give gamers more tools for that and hire more people to investigate the reports.

For example, they can add “avoid this player” option, where I would be able to permanently prevent some toxic idiot from being put into same match as me. Blizzard kind of did that, but they did not go far enough, and they gave BS reasons for that (yes, Blizzard, I am willing to wait in matchmaking queue for a longer time if it will allow me to skip some players on my ignore list). And this would even work in MMOs where I should also be able to ignore anyone for any reason to prevent that person from being put into same dungeon or to make my character untraceable for that person.

Reader
Arktouros

First, hiring more staff is always the low bar suggestion but it’s pretty costly to hire people. You could of course try to keep costs down by going to other, cheaper cost of labor but then you run into cultural issues of understanding what is and isn’t toxic. Those new operating costs have to be balanced and what benefit do you receive to pay for it? Does less toxicity actually mean more money? It’s unlikely the case as the people being toxic equally spend money as those put off by toxicity.

Second, avoiding players creates a lot of technical and game play issues. Imagine you’ve put someone on “avoid” but they still find out where you are and suddenly all the mobs around you are mysteriously dying. You run off only to find more things around you mysteriously dying. Things like that just don’t really work in a multiplayer environment. Match making environments are no better. Lets say you know xXx420BlazeItxXx is around the same matchmaking as you and…fuck…he’s just so good and wins against you every time. Add to the avoid list, now you can avoid having to play against him EZ Clap.

None of this stuff is uncomplicated, if you think it is you just haven’t thought it through fully.

Alex Js.
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

Does less toxicity actually mean more money?

Yes, absolutely.

as the people being toxic equally spend money as those put off by toxicity

See, that’s irrelevant how much the toxic player spends. This player is still less beneficial to the company than less toxic player. Here’s an example: the toxic player creates drama, this drama spills to places like Reddit and some news blogs, that has a potential of giving a “poor” impression of game company to A LOT of potential buyers of the game or current subscribers (since the company didn’t react fast enough to prevent this drama from going outside of the game), meaning A LOT of potentially lost sales. So it’s always more profitable to get rid of toxic player before this happens by reacting to reports more swiftly and in a more strict manner.

Second, avoiding players creates a lot of technical and game play issues.

No, it does not.

Imagine you’ve put someone on “avoid” but they still find out where you are

If such abuser is so persistent – you just make another report for “stalking”, which should result in an outright ban if there is a sufficient evidence. And gathering evidence should not be technically hard if the “game master” or customer support person can teleport to you or to any other player to observe their behavior (like I’ve seen it happen in games like WoW – I did not harass anyone but I did create a bunch of “trial” accounts when I was bored and the cheating was very easy in it, and all of those “trial” characters were quickly dealt with after a very short conversation by in-game “GM’s” who were observing my behavior after user reports).

Lets say you know xXx420BlazeItxXx is around the same matchmaking as you and…fuck…he’s just so good and wins against you every time. Add to the avoid list, now you can avoid having to play against him

What’s wrong with that? If someone is better than me and this somehow annoys me – it’s still a valid reason to block that person to prevent from being matched with that person. And if that will make me wait for longer time in queue (since it’s me who put that person on the “avoid” list) – I am willing to wait, and I’m sure there will be plenty of other people who will feel the same way.

Reader
Jokerchyld

I think consoles are dead. Who wants to be restricted by a limited number of buttons and have to replace the hardware every 3 years. Even if consoles survive they will become more like PCs anyway.

Alex Js.
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

they will become more like PCs anyway.

They already are – they have basically same hardware, just with some functions disabled, and you can already use keyboard for some games.

And no, they will not disappear simply because they make it easy for both developer and user to ignore billions of potential issues with OS patches, driver patches, malware and issues with cheating.

Reader
Tanek

Poll options include all trends nominated plus others we thought had a chance!

Who nominated battle royale and mobile options for this poll? I worry that he or she may be in trouble and it was a coded message to send help.