Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Story of the Year, which was awarded to The Great Lootbox Debate last year. This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it’s not for a single article; it’s an acknowledgement of an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre during the year. 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 Story of 2018 is…
The Daybreak Columbus Nova Saga
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I’m probably biased, but the connection between a Russian oligarch and Daybreak games. I mean, holy heck was that a ride! We knew Daybreak was really screwing up the MMO-verse by undoing all the goodwill Sony Online Entertainment had built up, but the constantly gaslighting on the internet by an online game company was ridiculous! It explains the company’s decisions and impatience with the industry, but man, it really spelled out why we should be worried about not just the fate of the company’s MMOs, but any buyouts of MMO companies. Gamigo buying Trion is probably second in my opinion. I still don’t exactly believe it, especially after they bought MMOGames.com last year.
Brendan Drain (@nyphur): The Daybreak / Columbus Nova scandal. It’s rare to see real life political scandals bleed into our little MMO-laden corner of the gaming space, and almost as rare that we have to put on our investigator hats and really dig into a story that an MMO studio would rather not see the light of day. This scandal had both of those in droves, kicking off when news landed that the Russian Oligarch who owned Columbus Nova came under investigation by the US Government and all of his assets were frozen. Columbus Nova previously announced it had acquired Daybreak Games, so we sent an innocent enough email to Daybreak to ask if this would impact the studio. Daybreak’s response was baffling: They hadn’t been acquired by Columbus Nova after all! It smelled of a cover-up and an attempt to gaslight the media, and we were having none of it. We broke the story that Daybreak was denying its affiliation with Columbus Nova and investigated with the help of members of our community to uncover incriminating documents containing evidence to the contrary. As happens in many scandals in the games industry, the story even included financial disaster and a series of layoffs at Daybreak.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The Daybreak Columbus Nova story was by far the biggest story we’ve ever worked on, and it should take the year for sure. I’m beyond proud of the effort we poured into it once it literally fell into our laps while we were tracking down an adjacent story. Honestly, the most shocking part of it all wasn’t that Daybreak neglected to tell everyone who really bought it for three years, it wasn’t that it touched on government sanctions relating to Russian oligarchs, and it wasn’t the mass layoffs that coincidentally dropped the same week, though that was all certainly bizarre. No, the wildest bit was watching in shock as an MMORPG company darted around the internet trying to delete documents that proved its deception in real time, while maintaining that deception was of no consequence (and… I think it turned out to be of no consequence, so why did they go into panic mode and delete things like the internet doesn’t remember forever?). I’ve never seen anything like it, and I hope to never again.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): The Daybreak Columbus Nova affair just reads like something out of fiction: a novel of backdoor dealings, shifting money, attempts to erase the record, and bunches of people caught in the splash damage. I am left agape at the baffling events behind this story and saddened that good ideas and especially good devs were the ones that appear to have paid the price.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Gosh, this was an entire year of studios doing dumb and newsworthy stuff, wasn’t it? But for sheer sprawling insanity, it’s hard to match the whole Daybreak fiasco of “no, we were never bought by the company we claimed we were bought by.” It’s telling that this wasn’t even the only Daybreak implosion of the year, isn’t it?
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): The Daybreak fiasco showed us both how fragile this once-mighty MMO studio was and how little we can trust the statements that come out of them. When the choice was between incompetence and gaslighting, fans are going to lose either way.
Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Daybreak-Columbus Nova Affair. Holy gaslighting, Batman. Never in a million years did I think that our little corner of the games-journalism world would be in any way linked to Russian oligarchs accused of meddling in United States elections and national affairs, but here we are. What a time to be alive.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Without rehashing the whole story (because you can go elsewhere on MOP to read it), I say the biggest one for 2018 was the whole Daybreak Columbus Nova fiasco. The we-can-make-up-the-truth-as-we-go nonsense and we-can-cover-it-up-and-no-one-will-notice idiocy killed any last trust I think anyone had in Daybreak. It felt completely insulting as well as dishonest.
The Daybreak Columbus Nova Saga won our award for Biggest MMO Story of 2018. What’s your pick?
Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO story of 2018?
- The Daybreak Columbus Nova affair (27%, 127 Votes)
- Fallout 76's launch disaster mess (14%, 63 Votes)
- The Blizzard and Diablo Immortal mess (20%, 93 Votes)
- Lockbox legislation and investigations around the globe (9%, 40 Votes)
- Riot's sexism expose and lawsuit (5%, 22 Votes)
- Rockstar's crunch problem (1%, 3 Votes)
- The push for games industry unionization (1%, 6 Votes)
- ArenaNet's PR fiascos (2%, 11 Votes)
- Pearl Abyss' CCP buyout (2%, 8 Votes)
- WildStar's sunset and Carbine's closure (2%, 11 Votes)
- Gamigo's Trion buyout (2%, 11 Votes)
- The AAA MMO pivot to mobile (3%, 13 Votes)
- The online games DMCA battle and victory (1%, 3 Votes)
- The rescue of Project Copernicus and associated IPs (0%, 2 Votes)
- WHO's gaming addiction classification and violence in gaming moral panic (1%, 3 Votes)
- Machine learning and big game data (0%, 2 Votes)
- The Madden tourney shooting (1%, 4 Votes)
- Trion's Gazillion buyout (1%, 4 Votes)
- The COD swatter case (1%, 6 Votes)
- The push for MMO progression servers (0%, 2 Votes)
- The Daybreak NantWorks and H1Z1 esports scandal (0%, 0 Votes)
- Toxicity and the Fair Play Alliance (0%, 2 Votes)
- Multiple MMOs get battle royale modes (1%, 4 Votes)
- Torchlight Frontiers announced (1%, 4 Votes)
- Atlas announced (0%, 2 Votes)
- The SWTOR cancelation scare (1%, 5 Votes)
- Nothing (2%, 7 Votes)
- Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 361