Massively Overthinking: Our MMO predictions for 2019

    
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With 2018 drawing to a close and 2019 rushing up to meet us, the Massively OP team has regrouped for another round of bold and goofy predictions for the year ahead. We’re feeling pretty good after our successful predictions from last year! What’s in store for the MMO genre next year? Here’s what we think.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Let’s do the bad predictions first. I can’t see PlanetSide 2 doing well. The Arena announcement sounds like it’s death bell. Also Daybreak’s, as it will likely lose further glory. Turbine is dead and Warner Bros. will continue to be irrelevant on this site except for any minor connections they have with the studio and its work with Niantic on the AR Wizarding World Game, which will see release too soon and be another fad.

Pokemon Go and Niantic will surprise me by actually continuing to make the game more MMO-ish and more like the core series, but it still won’t make a grand comeback. Nintendo will still have a lukewarm online presence, but we may get some love from Animal Crossing. I will bug Bree about why I should be allowed to cover it. She will roll her eyes and possibly allow it if I clean Mo’s armor.

Amazon will show us something that may be hype worthy to some, but publicly or privately, those in the industry won’t be impressed.

World of Warcraft will continue to be the barely relevant MMO grandad we can’t ignore but kind of wish we could, especially as the studio tries to make up for Blizzcon. However, we’ll probably see something cool in Overwatch this year, or outside with their awesome cinematics department.

Star Citizen and/or Crowfall – can I call release this year? I’ll get this eventually!

Fewer battle royales towards the end of the year… maybe. Our genre will continue to be niche while singleplayer games continue to get more online multiplayer support.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): So let’s just go all in with Guild Wars 2, shall we? I think the expansion will be at least underwater-themed as rumored, and I don’t think the next living story episode will be the last we see of water themes. Depths of Orr? Girls Gone Wild: Cantha Edition? Either way, I’m stoked for this. I also saw someone suggest GW2 would make a great console game. I agree, so let’s say GW2 makes it to the Switch? It’s out there. It’s really just a wish though. Go big on predictions or go home, right?

Elder Scrolls Online will definitely see a chapter and probably 3-4 DLC next year. I love Hammerfell, so I’ll predict it’s a Redguard-themed nostalgia campaign, but I know the rumor is Elsweyr. Whichever. Cats are great too.

Red Dead Online PC. Happening by fall. WoW Classic will launch big and trickle off within a month; I strongly suspect we’ll see game leads from both WoW and Overwatch move on to new projects. Atlas will be huge (when it finally stumbles out) and stay huge all year, crushing Sea of Thieves and ARK. Ubisoft will shelve Skull and Bones.

New World will go back into testing for some do-overs. Crowfall will finally soft launch. None of the other major crowdfunded MMOs will even come close to soft launch, though. None of the eastern games we’re watching will actually make it here in 2019, but Torchlight Frontiers will do extremely well.

Daybreak will finally announce EverQuest III, and it’ll be a sandbox MMORPG built for PC and mobile with a battle royale side mode. Let’s call it… EverQuest Arena.

SWTOR’s expansion will be small but well-received and timed completely wrong to coordinate with theatrical releases as always. CCP will cancel the EVE mobile game. Gamigo will put Defiance, Defiance 2050, and Atlas Reactor in maintenance mode and do only one or two patches apiece for ArcheAge, Trove, and RIFT.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): We will see the battle royale bubble stabilize further to the point that the “smaller” games will shrivel away to leave only Fortnite and PUBG. I still believe we will see a great number of crowdsourced games make their way into release, which seems extremely exciting for sandbox fans. We will see esports begin to correct its growth with a bit of a fiscal and viewership hit that leads into an eventual plateau period. And I will attempt to hug as many members of the MOP staff as I am physically capable… within their personal comfort levels and my finances, of course.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): World of Warcraft continues to sputter and flail around a bit with some course corrections, but it’s pretty clear that whatever goodwill the designers earned from Legion has bled out as Battle for Azeroth rolls on. There’s another few attempts to win back the crowd, but the real centerpiece is the announcement of the next expansion around the current expansion’s one-year anniversary. Surprising no one, people are grumbling, and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not Blizzard tries to win back the players it’s alienating or doubles down on what’s causing the issues right now. (Seriously, that one’s a coin toss. Anybody got a coin?)

Guild Wars 2 announces its third expansion but flails a bit on delivery, with its release finally coming around the tail end of the year. It quickly proves itself to be less of an upgrade from That Path What Has All The Fire and more of a sidegrade-and-minor-downgrade, which produces some fresh gnashing of teeth. Between that an a light content slate, a bad taste is in player mouths.

The Elder Scrolls Online continues on its trend of DLC and manages to produce work that is still solid without quite reaching its previous heights of impressive people. That’s not to say that it’s bad or anything, just that it doesn’t really make people sit up and notice that the game is good or anything of that sort.

Final Fantasy XIV releases Shadowbringers. I am inordinately happy with it. Most of the people playing it are inordinately happy with it. Some people are loudly unhappy, some new people check it out. There’s the first minor content patch in October-ish. The game continues to be amazingly solid. FFXI Mobile is finally confirmed as being in development hell and not going anywhere any time soon.

Star Citizen continues to busk for money while producing less and less actual content as its money counter slows (but doesn’t stop) and the concept ships keep being sold for hundreds of dollars. More people wonder if it’s ever coming out loudly. We may finally hit the critical mass of that in 2019, but who knows.

Planetside Arena launches directly into the ground. Daybreak has long since passed using up its goodwill and is now actively generating animosity. H1Z1 is finally gone forever, and it wouldn’t be surprising if another title on the studio’s roster shutters.

Following the Gamigo acquisition, Trion’s former portfolio has mixed results. Atlas Reactor and Defiance 2050 are banished to the land of wind and ghosts, and RIFT languishes. ArcheAge and Trove, on the other hand, get a consistent pace of updates and do pretty well for themselves. This produces some very mixed emotions from players about whether Trion’s acquisition was a good thing or a bad thing.

Neverwinter and Star Trek Online continue to keep on keepin’ on, although the latter is showing its age. We hear more about Cryptic’s Magic: the Gathering MMO. I am inordinately happy with this fact.

At least one of the “plan Z” City of Heroes spiritual sequels actually reaches a consistent test phase. It’s not bad! It’s not lighting the world on fire, though.

Standing Stone Games actually hints at plans to do something new beyond Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online, possibly worried about the life cycle of those two titles. Few details are revealed, though.

Someone else in the world remembers Peria Chronicles existed at some point.

Black Desert releases a major update or expansion that its playerbase absolutely loathes, resulting in some really big shakeups behind the scenes. EVE Online seems to do all right for itself despite this fact.

Fallout 76 runs about looking for players like a chicken with its head cut off. It eventually announces a series of updates that are more-than-likely going to completely remake the game on a fundamental level. Or it just shutters; it’s going to be one or the other, let’s see which one looks like a bigger black eye.

Square-Enix starts teasing another MMO, although it’s just faint teases (the focus is on finally announcing Final Fantasy XVI, why not). At least one MMO is under development from a completely unexpected direction. A small batch of survival sandboxes shut down, and a whole lot of battle royale games find out that there was never a genre of battle royale, just Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Overwatch starts slowing up significantly and that contributes to Blizzard’s flopsweat attitude. BlizzCon 2019 is meant to really play to the crowd. Warcraft III: Reforged is a huge hit and renews calls for a new Warcraft RTS game.

Crowfall delays its soft launch again. (Prove me wrong, guys.)

Shroud of the Avatar quietly abandons plans for any sort of future expansion. Pantheon gets into regular testing and actually earns some positive word-of-mouth for a particular crowd.

I will bury my face in a cat’s stomach and shout “sir” at the animal.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): After a bruising 2018, this coming year will bear many delightful surprises and successes for MMO studios and fans alike. World of Warcraft will get its Battle for Azeroth act together and start delivering content that brings people back into the game. Bethesda is going to pour resources into Fallout 76 and turn that game’s fortune around while also offering a single-player mode (with true VATS). FFXIV: Shadowbringers and WoW Classic will boost both of those games’ profiles and attendance, while Torchlight Frontiers will be a decent hit in its own right when it launches. We’ll get word that Peria Chronicles is coming to the west and Lost Ark will head this way before the end of 2019. Cryptic will shut down Champions Online but will offset that by revealing more about its next project (which won’t be that Magic MMO, strangely enough). John Smedley will return, stronger and balder than ever. EverQuest III will be revealed and hope for this franchise will kindle again. Many indie MMOs will finally debut, and it’ll be a new bounty of riches by next fall.

Your turn!

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