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


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Blunder, which was awarded to CCP’s dramatic VR pullout and EVE Online layoffs last year, which once again proved prophetic, given CCP’s buyout this year. This isn’t a meta-award we particularly enjoy giving, but I think it’s a fitting complement to praising trends and big stories: We must consider the mistakes of the year so we don’t make them again and so we can be prepared for how they’ll affect us in the future.

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

Diablo Immortal

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Daybreak’s constant gaslighting. So much trust lost so quickly, and they just kept adding fuel to the fire. The internet has a long memory, guys. And a screenshot key. It’s hard to think of the EverQuest series making a comeback these days.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Diablo Immortal. I’m voting for this in Biggest MMO Blunder despite the fact that Diablo Immortal is patently not an MMO specifically because Blizzard itself called it an MMORPG in the launch video. The weeks leading up to Blizzcon were filled with anticipation for something new on the Diablo front, with the game featuring heavily in key art and Blizzard scheduling a talk entitled “The future of Diablo” and a whole floor section in the testing area for the franchise. Even when Blizzard announced that Diablo 4 wouldn’t be at the event, people were still excited to see where Blizzard was going with it — only to find out it’s a mobile game. The incredulity of the developers on stage and that now-famous “Do you guys not have phones?!” line were a kick in the teeth for attendees and those watching at home. There was certainly a lot of unnecessary rage online from gamers who felt genuinely betrayed and seemed to lack the emotional equipment to deal with it in a reasonable manner, but that response was easily predictable and horribly mismanaged by Blizzard. I think Eliot really hit the nail on the head in his piece about the event when he wrote that “Blizzard promised to show fans a lot of new stuff just for them, and showed fans a lot of stuff that was not for them. Some of it doesn’t appear to have been for anyone.”

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Diablo Immortal took my top pick, but only by a hair. And I mean the whole presentation of it, from the teases to the botched BlizzCon presentation, not even so much the Wyatt Cheng phones thing, though that was just salt in the wound. It really proved Blizzard has become more and more out of touch with the western games market and specifically its loyal customers, and it certainly paid for it in lost stock value (yes, I know that was about Destiny 2 and the broader market too). My runner-up is definitely Bethsoft’s Fallout 76 bungle. Holy crap, cheaping out over canvas bags, seriously? That happened?

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Diablo Immortal. As an admittedly new arrival to the delights of Diablo 3, I found this was a twist of the knife for me, so I can only imagine how those who are significantly more invested must feel. Obviously, this isn’t carte blanche for people to be awful at everyone in Blizzard, and I also am not convinced that mobile gaming is the Great Enemy that people make it out to be, but the game’s reveal felt less like a passion project and more like a demand from The Investor’s Board. Runner-Up: Bless Online. I’m not sure what I was hoping for with regards to this MMO, but it just bellyflopped on nearly every conceivable level.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Diablo Immortal, the centerpiece of BlizzCon and an object lesson in how to completely ruin your own fan event. This was just so transparently a badly managed reveal, such an unnecessary mess that happened chiefly because Blizzard insisted on having a BlizzCon and playing this up as a big reveal on a year when they didn’t actually have a reveal. The fact that FFXIV’s Fan Festival was not long after and went over like gangbusters in and of itself makes it clear how badly Blizzard managed things here; while I don’t condone or agree with the rudest behavior on the show floor, this was really bad. I wrote a whole piece about it.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Fallout 76 really shone a harsh light on how sloppy Bethesda has gotten about its testing and quality control, and I think most people are just done with excusing the studio over it. Seeing how badly the studio handled the damage control and communication following launch will serve as a warning sign to other studios who think that they’re big enough to ignore discontent.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Diablo Immortal. Do I really need to elaborate on this? I mean, don’t you people read the news?

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I wish I could just make my Biggest Disappointment my Biggest Blunder, but sadly I see at least some of the studios insulting and treating their players like imbeciles and trying to rewrite history in their favor actually still benefiting, so it doesn’t seem to fit the blunder bill. If only such actions actually had the kind of backlash that would whip them into shape! There is, however, a line to be drawn: If we make this category Stupid Things That Should Not Be Said, the winner of this goes to “Do you guys not have phones?” Just, wow. What hangs in the air from that little response. Ignore and insult fans a wee too much and you get (rightfully) booed.

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.

Diablo Immortal took our award for Biggest MMO Blunder of 2018. What’s your pick?

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

  • The Blizzard and Diablo Immortal mess (40%, 261 Votes)
  • The Daybreak Columbus Nova affair (9%, 61 Votes)
  • The CCP Games buyout (2%, 10 Votes)
  • The Trion Worlds buyout (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Fallout 76's launch disaster mess (24%, 158 Votes)
  • Riot's sexism culture exposed (3%, 20 Votes)
  • WildStar's sunset and Carbine's closure (2%, 11 Votes)
  • ArenaNet's Pricegate (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Rockstar's crunch problem (1%, 4 Votes)
  • The AAA MMO pivot to mobile (6%, 39 Votes)
  • The push for MMO progression servers (0%, 2 Votes)
  • The push for MMO battle royale modes (4%, 29 Votes)
  • The focus on lockboxes (3%, 17 Votes)
  • the H1Z1 pro league esports implosion (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Nothing (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 490

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

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Robert Mann
3 years ago

Something else… because I need 4. I seriously cannot pick one of these. This year has been some sort of oddity, because there’s been such a major level of head in ass syndrome that it defies any normal, logical explanation. Are aliens scrambling the brains of AAA? Do we have some sort of massive worldwide conspiracy going on with gaming? I don’t have answers, but there’s something going on!

Somehow Bless manages to make it down below a top 4 for me, which shows just how astounding this year was!

Microsoft Edge 2018-12-20 07.59.23.png
Robert Mann
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Mann

P.S. I did consider adding Daybreak’s C-N affair there, but the pure lack of any lasting impression on it just made it less of a big blunder all in all. As for the rest, they were either expected -or- have about as many pros as cons (or a wide split in how people reacted, and why they reacted that way). So I can’t consider any of the others there this big.

Honestly I think D:C-N, and then Bliss, would round out my top six here.

David Goodman
3 years ago

I voted for Diablo Immortal because, honestly, I expect more from Blizzard and from Blizzcon.

Fallout 76 was a crapfest, yeah, but… i expected that. Bethesda has ALWAYS made lousy games; they’ve ALWAYS rode on the coattails of fan mods made by better designers than they are. They make a good core engine for other people to build off of, but they haven’t made any good, independent games in a LONG time.

The only reason they can continue to re-release Skyrim for the 300th time (there’s a version coming out on carrier pigeon next year, spread the hype), is due to the strength of the mods giving the game longevity far beyond it’s base worth. When they released it for the Switch and had day-one PC bugs in it should have drove that point home.

So I never had high expectations from ’76 in the first place when they announced it wasn’t going to have mod support any time soon.

Some of the others, I don’t consider them blunders more than core problems with the industry as a whole. You don’t “blunder” into the Columbus Nova crap, or Riot’s hot mess; that’s a systemic illness that needs to be carved out surgically. It wasn’t a slip-up.

Blizzard… they slipped up as hard as it’s possible to slip up. It was a blunder of epic proportions. You couldn’t mis-read a crowd any harder if you put on Disney Princess outfits and performed a song and dance number – THAT would have gone over better than Diablo Immortal at Blizzcon as an opening panel.

Kickstarter Donor
3 years ago

Runner-Up: Bless Online. I’m not sure what I was hoping for with regards to this MMO, but it just bellyflopped on nearly every conceivable level.

omg I completely forgot Bless was a thing…I remember guildies being hyped for it back in the early days of Vanguard, and for it to still flop horribly when it made it to North America 10+ years later? Stunning.

3 years ago

The ANet thing shouldn’t even be on any list. Even today that woman’s twitter reveals why she’s pretty much unemployable for any job that has to deal with a wide spectrum of customers. She just can’t separate her political activism from her job, and that’s her failure as a human being. ANet are probably still breathing huge sighs of relief to this day.

3 years ago
Reply to 

I like the juxtaposition of this comment with the one just below it.

Robert Mann
3 years ago
Reply to  athiev

Aye, this one has two vehement sides to it. The side that is more focused on sexisms, and the side that finds her behavior to be completely unprofessional. They are both correct in my own opinion. It is merely a matter of where one is focused.

3 years ago

Given that AreanNet and Riot were both so bad this year they actually made me vow to never give them money again, I feel like Blizzards mistakes with Immortal were small potatoes. It says something about how tunnel visioned a lot of gamers are that Riots harrasment, Daybreak’s deliberate lying and ANet and Rockstars poor employee treatment and Bethesda’s entire month of November are glossed over because Blizzard announced a game people aren’t super enthusiastic about, then made a (I’ll admit, very memeable) faux pas on stage later.

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Patreon Donor
3 years ago

The whole Diablo Immortal debacle gave the appearance of bigger problems at Blizzard.

Kickstarter Donor
3 years ago

I can totally see why DA:I would win, but I’m totally going with the Daybreak mess. That, to me, was probably one of the biggest gaming news stories of 2018 period, and it went criminally underreported by other sites (MOP did the best coverage by far). That was a story that actually extended beyond the industry and had potential hooks in international politics and relations, and ho boy is it embarrassing when you have to admit that you’ve been wrong about who owns your company for three full years.

If this was for biggest disappointment I’d go with DA:I without hesitation, but I think Daybreaks messaging implosion was bigger given how long it went on.

Kickstarter Donor
3 years ago

Yeah, that definitely got brushed off pretty quickly. I think it was a matter of gaming sites not really wanting to get into politics and the regular news being afraid that linking politics with gaming would look dumb.

It’s possible that we haven’t heard the end of it; the whole ownership switcharoo seemed like an awfully convenient solution that everyone just kinda accepted.

Steven Williams
3 years ago

Only 3 votes allowed? Damn it. So much bs happened this year. Voted for Diablo Immortal, Daybreak/Columbus Nova (I hope that company shuts down), and especially Fallout 76. As an Elder Scrolls superfan, knowing that TES 6 will use that blasted, outdated, piece of @#$% engine, and that it’s being made by 2018+ Bethesda, makes me incredibly nervous.

Chosenxeno .
3 years ago

Lots of Diablo Immortal votes. dON’t yOu GuyS HaVE pHONeS!!!

David Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Chosenxeno .

I submitted my vote by carrier pigeon.

Robert Mann
3 years ago
Reply to  David Goodman

I have a phone. Even IF I wanted to play their mobile trash, it likely would not. I also have zero interest in upgrading it for hundreds of dollars and paying a much higher monthly amount for service.

That initial assumption, though, is a big one. Because, to be blunt, I wouldn’t play the mobile trash this appears to be IF I had such a phone.

***Written using my computer, PC FTW.***

**LOL’d at carrier pigeon.**

*Am still surprised that nobody asked if the Blizz staff “Had brains”.*

Danny Smith
3 years ago

Honestly in terms of Blizzard Immortal kicked up the most stink but i kind of think Azurite has been the actual bigger fuck up for them. Were most of the people upset by immortal potential players they lost? probably not. Meanwhile Azurite Gear and its mechanic of holding perks hostage until you level up a post cap xp bar combined with the developer doubling down on it lest they admit fault and higher ups ask why they are employed in said position effecting customer retention looks like its done quite a bit of damage to the game in terms of paying customers leaving and tarnishing the expansions reputation and giving it a firm ‘dont come back till the next expansion removes this system’ message.

Immortal was people upset they aren’t getting a product that doesn’t exist. Azurite is actively poisoning the well of existing consumers. Both are bad for Blizzard but immortal will be forgotten the moment they shit out a Diablo 4 announcement even if its an image of a flaming 4 and some music. BfA’s issues however are going to be around for all of next year and i dont see that situation getting better anytime soon and thats the one involving actual money going in or out of their system.

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Ashfyn Ninegold
3 years ago
Reply to  Danny Smith

We are a cynical lot, aren’t we? Players enjoyed Legion for the most part and went into BfA expecting fun and got a merciless, pointless, stupid, feckless, relentless grind lacking in even a modicum of fun.

What this means is that the number of people who will blindly pre-order WoW expansions may have taken a hit. Of course, the good news is that Blizzard will continue its self-defeating cycle of designing, building up and tweaking a system only to totally trash it in the next expansion. I hated this for weapon Artifacts, but it may be a saving grace for Heart of Azeroth and Azerite armor. Let’s hope.

This is a long way of saying that Blizzard has badly dinged the usually rabid Diablo fan base with Immortal. Yup, there will be a certain number of players who will buy D4 and lap it up, just as they did D3. But my +4 to Intuition Super Laced Tin Foil Hat, previously worn by the Great Karnack, tells me that Diablo fans are not going to fall all over themselves as you suggest. The delay, yet again, in D4’s announcement is beginning to look like Blizzard doesn’t know how to make a good game any more. And after D:I, no one is even sure it will be an ARPG. So there is deep skepticism that only a solid offering can counter.

At the same time, Blizzard has ceded the throne of best ARPG to Path of Exile, and GGG just happened to be ready to snap it up. Moreover, there are some very promising titles on the horizon, Wolcen, The Last Echo and the (will we ever see it) Lost Ark ready to compete.

You can’t be market leader if you don’t lead. Blizzard backed away from a genre it totally owned, the PC ARPG genre. Every ARPG developed was up against Diablo’s aura of invincibility but no more. Now the field is wide open and the race is on to see who can capture the disaffected Diablo players.

So, yup, Diablo: Immortal was a terrific blunder on Blizzard’s part. And as my mom used to say, “They’ll rue the day.”