Massively OP’s 2018 Awards: Biggest MMO Industry Disappointment of 2018

    
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NO I GET THE REAL HEADER NO BLOOPERS

Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Industry Disappointment, which was awarded to the sad death of Marvel Heroes last year. Disappointments can be games, launches, patches, trends, stories, sunsets, all manner of topics in the MMORPG genre and orbiting sub-genres. 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 Biggest MMO Industry Disappointment of 2018 is…

ArenaNet’s, Riot’s, and Rockstar’s employment scandals

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Fallout 76. From what I saw/didn’t see at E3, it had all the signs of “We’re hyping something not hype-worthy.” Non-MMO/survival gamers I know were excited for this, and I understand why they would be, but as someone in the industry, the situation felt pretty clear, and that was disappointing.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): AAA mobile spinoffs. Despite the fact that the median mobile game makes approximately $0 today, it seems that big IPs are still able to draw a crowd on the platform and the lure of making the big bucks is still strong. This year has seen a number of studios with major IPs pivot partially to mobile with Fallout Shelter, Elder Scrolls: Blades, a slew of Final Fantasy games, and that Harry Potter game where you have to pay money to stop a kid on screen from being strangled (I swear I am not making that up). Chinese mobile MMO giant NetEase in particular seems to have set its eyes on western MMO and multiplayer IPs this year, with the company now partnering with western studios on titles such as Diablo Immortal and EVE Echoes. I’d expect more announcements of this kind to follow in 2019 as the mobile market is still huge in China and South Korea and I imagine NetEase is able to make a pretty good business case if it’s getting the likes of Blizzard and CCP Games on board. This gets my vote for biggest MMO disappointment mainly because the business models that we know work best on mobile are abusive and they always intrude on game design. Games that could be enjoyable are chopped up and sold to you piece by piece, with time blocks and grind artificially inserted so that you’ll pay your way past them. I also just can’t get behind separate mobile spinoffs when all I really want from an MMO mobile experience is a companion app or a way to log into the live servers on my phone and access at least a portion of the core gameplay.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My biggest disappointment of the year was watching studio after studio – Riot, ANet, Rockstar – treat its employees like disposable garbage. We could probably add in all the MMO companies with layoffs this year too (really, right before Christmas, Daybreak??). I see a silver lining here in the fact that the industry this year got a formal unionization movement, but this was absolutely one of the worst years I’ve ever seen in regard to the treatment of the industry’s workforce by the people at the top of the industry itself (or at least, it’s been much more public this year). My runner-up would probably be the fact that Fallout 76 bombed so hard with fiasco after fiasco. As I told my husband, sure, we get a month of coverage out of fiasco, but we get years of coverage out of a solid MMO – I always prefer the latter.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): “Disappointment” sells the feelings I have about the ArenaNet/Riot/Rockstar matters extremely short, but I get the application of the word here. Obviously, the industry still has a lot of work to do in order to cut down these miseries. For the sake of everyone looking to get into the games industry in any capacity, especially women and minority groups, I hope some real progress is made.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): So… after this year, I can’t really support ArenaNet. At all. The company basically decided to have the worst possible response to its PR fiasco this summer, and that’s a point past which I can’t just shake my head and say “jeez, corporate structure, innit?” The only reason that Riot wasn’t more personally affecting is that it didn’t surprise me that Riot was disgustingly sexist, but that doesn’t mean it’s now possible to support that studio with a clean conscience. And Riot just kept doubling down on being awful all year, to boot.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Seeing both Trion and Carbine go down. Both hurt a lot and both impacted several games that I cared about. The field is less for having lost these studios and WildStar, and I am disappointed that the latter did not get saved.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): The Industry Itself. I mean, between the absolute shitshows of Riot’s ongoing sexual harassment scandal, ArenaNet’s PR nightmare, and Rockstar driving its employees to the brink with its insane crunch-time development demands, the whole industry has shown a particularly ugly side of itself this year.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I’m putting “treating players like/hoping players are imbeciles” right here. Or perhaps word it as “studios openly trying to change their history and hoping fans won’t notice.” We’ve got studios like Daybreak: trying to rewrite the past to suit their “no really, we aren’t Columbus Nova” narrative. We have studios like WildCard: Changing its story about working on its next game after fan backlash because the current game wasn’t even partially finished (and remains unfinished!) all while apparently still working on it by the looks of the sudden appearance of said new game. Perhaps even worse is hearing fans rail on how terrible a studio is, how dishonest or unscrupulous, and how they should never touch anything it makes with a 10-foot pole… except this next thing looks cool so they have to try it. Brain says. “You’ve hurt me too much,” but wallet says. “Hurt me more!” This only encourages studios to be slimy because they are still getting your money. This victim-jumping-back-in-expecting-to-be-abused-but-just-can’t-help-it-because-it-might-be-OK-this-time phenomenon is seriously the saddest thing to me. It breaks my heart to see that. Spoiler alert: There is no change when there is no reason to. Runner up to biggest disappointment — massive layoffs at the holidays. Heartless and money grubbing! Shame on studios that pull that just to crank numbers up on paper. Although I do agree with one sentiment that having it right before holidays may be better than immediately after so folks have a chance to budget their season a bit better spending-wise.

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.

ArenaNet’s, Riot’s, and Rockstar’s industry scandals took our award for Biggest MMO Industry Disappointment of 2018. What’s your pick?

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

  • ArenaNet's, Riot's, and Rockstar's employment scandals (15%, 157 Votes)
  • Fallout 76's launch disaster mess (15%, 150 Votes)
  • The Blizzard and Diablo Immortal mess (20%, 211 Votes)
  • The Daybreak Columbus Nova affair (3%, 26 Votes)
  • Pearl Abyss' CCP buyout (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Gamigo's Trion buyout (2%, 25 Votes)
  • WildStar's sunset and Carbine's closure (7%, 72 Votes)
  • WHO's gaming addiction classification and violence in gaming moral panic (3%, 36 Votes)
  • The push for MMO progression servers (1%, 10 Votes)
  • The Daybreak NantWorks and H1Z1 esports scandal (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Multiple MMOs get battle royale modes (5%, 49 Votes)
  • AAA MMOs pivot to mobile (9%, 94 Votes)
  • Way too few new MMOs on the horizon (8%, 78 Votes)
  • Way too many MMOs lingering in alpha, beta, or early access (8%, 82 Votes)
  • Nothing (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 755

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Poll options include all disappointing things nominated plus others we thought deserved consideration!
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Reader
Tezencatli

I could see the writing on the wall about Bethesda after the way they treated Obsidian. And the way Fallout 4 turned out. And now Obisidian is basically making space fallout. Good! It’s poetic!

I keep my eye on indie games or studios that haven’t quite hit that corporate level of greediness yet. It’s just too bad people will keep rewarding bad behavior because they are ‘triple A’ studios.

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

There was a lot of competition for this one. I went with the scandals here but the FO76 and Diablo debacles were close behind.

Reader
Axetwin .

Riot is the gift that keeps on giving, like Bethesda with FO76. Just when you think things are starting to quiet down, something else comes up which puts them back in the spotlight again.

Anet did nothing wrong.

Wildstar being put down was a mercy killing. That thing was allowed to limp along for a lot longer than it deserved.

anarresian
Reader
anarresian

I’m surprised to see the push for progression servers on the disappointments list. I get the idea is that they’re looking to the past and not doing “something new”, but MMOs, by their nature, live online. When their world changes as much as an expansion usually does, the world you loved is no more. I find it entirely natural and great, really, that people may miss that world and companies sometimes give it back to them. Not to even mention mechanics changes and so on.

Reader
Weilan

I think you should update the article – Blizzard and Diablo Immortal has the most votes and rightfully so.

Reader
Crowe

It’s not a People’s Choice article. It’s a Massively Author’s Choice.

Reader
Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I get ticked about game stuff all the time but it’s easy to put it in perspective. How these companies treat their customers and employees is another matter entirely.

What a gross display some companies chose to put on this year.

Palamah
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Palamah

Fallout 76 for me, and most importantly Bethesda releasing a clearly incomplete and poorly tested game and their truly awful handling of PR disaster after PR disaster.

Though 2018 will really just go down as the year that previously ‘beloved’ companies were exposed for the all the crap they’ve been burying for years and the new focus that’s seemingly purely on short-term financial gain over consumer satisfaction, business sustainability and of course employer welfare.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

ArenaNet did the right thing. And I just don’t get why you put it in the same category with Rockstar and Riot cases.

Reader
Siphaed

I’m confused as to why ArenaNet is on here as well. The employee literally went batshit crazy on a polite customer.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Because Mike made a mess out of a mess. He tossed them both under the bus, when Anet should have solved that way more quietly.

Yeah, Price set fires on everything. Anet’s job was to put it down, not fan the flames.

Reader
Arktouros

I don’t think Mike actively made the situation worse. In fact is over his response was pretty well received in general (if not a little stuffy, but well that’s business for you). The most flak he got was over Fries being lumped into the scenario.

Reader
Axetwin .

Fries inserted himself into that situation. Anet had no choice but to let him go as well as Price. I mean, could you imagine how much worse things would’ve been had they fired Price but kept Fries?

Reader
Bruno Brito

The issue was him giving a response without PR. Mike kept Price knowing who she was, and never even gave her a training course. He knew that would happen, and instead of just booting her quietly and giving a “Price and Fries are no longer with us, and we thank them for it”, he fed the flames.

Several times, Anet was given a chance to give Price a better training, and a better mindset. They fed her preexisting problematic radical views, and liked her for it.

Until it bit them in the ass.

I’m not cleaning up for Price here, i don’t like her. She knew she was wrong. But so did Anet, and they waited til her outburst ( that we ALL KNEW it would happen ) and tossed her under the bus.

Reader
Siphaed

You don’t know this. You don’t know what internal company training, policy overviews, and other courses that Arena Net went over with Price. Unless you were there, you were her trainer, you issued the documents and training videos, you really don’t have a leg to stand on with this argument.

Knowing who she was is a non-issue when giving a job offer to the individual under the conditions of working within the confines of the company’s code of conduct and procedures. If she didn’t want to follow those, she didn’t have to take the job offer. But in doing so, she relinquishes aspects of her personality being public that may violate company policy and interfere with a good public relations image. They -Arena Net- are not saying they’re going to break the rule hiring her, she’s going to change when hired to follow the rules. It is really that simple.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Considering that SHE HERSELF said they praised her radicalism was some sort of strenght and that they viewed her as right in her struggle, i have THAT going for it.

Now, MO can answer that all he wants, but i’m sure he won’t.

Reader
Siphaed

I was specifically addressing your “…and never even gave her a training course.” comment. That is what you do not know or are not aware of. And taking the angry, vindictive ex-employee’s word for something rather than the level headed manager of the company seems very one-sided. You’re going by her word alone that they were okay with already knowing that she had PR issues and that they would be okay with it.

Again, I don’t work for the company but neither do you. None of us have knowledge to whether or not she was verbally reprimanded in the past for similar interactions that push the boundaries of what is acceptable communication with the public as a company representative. Even slight reminders of company policy.

Nor do we have knowledge of how often the employees are reminded of polices and refreshed agreements to adhere to them (for example, most companies have an Electronic Communications and Social Media Agreement policy in place that all new hires must agree to, and all employees re-agree annually or biannually).

Reader
Baemir

How is someone supposed to solve an issue like that quietly when the media already has the topic in their crosshairs? He fired her, which is a perfectly valid decision IMO, and she went on to make a huge deal out of it and talk about it to any website that would listen. Why does Mike get the blame? I don’t understand.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Simple: She was hired BECAUSE she was rowdy. Price said herself several times: The company LIKED her radical views and fed them constantly. Mike KNEW she would blow up someday, and when she did, instead of grabbing her to the side and saying “dude, chill, take a training course and get one week off or get out of my company”, he made a ( bigger ) circus of it.

Reader
Baemir

That doesn’t sound very credible to me.

Reader
Bruno Brito

You can search for her position on the internet. She herself said that.

Now, if that’s credible or not, i’ll leave it up to you, but i remember what happened, and it was a shitshow. Mike let the social media dictate the waves for this crap instead of PR’ing.

Veldan
Reader
Patreon Donor
Veldan

I’m with MJ here, for one point specifically: the fact that way too many players complain about studios or MMOs and their current state in general, while when the next game comes that’s obviously no different, they all jump in and pay again. That’s a good way to make sure nothing ever changes, people.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Feyd Darkholme

Fallout 76 – I mean, I bought into the hype, bought the game, knowing full well that it wasn’t going to live up to expectations. My own fault… but I had no idea what an absolute dumpster fire it was going to end up being. I mean then entire thing is a prime example of the state of the industry as a whole right now. Something needs to change!