Massively Overthinking: Hopes and fears for MMOs in 2019

    
34

With nearly all of our end-of-2018 content finally and blissfully behind us – seriously, I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when it’s over because it’s months of extra work! – it’s time to look ahead to 2019. As in previous years, I’ve polled the Massively OP staff on all of our hopes and fears for the genre in the new year. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams (and our worst nightmares).

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): My fear is that people, fans and devs, become more complacent with gamble boxes as governments realize they too can monetize the industry themselves, not to mention keep young people away from sugarcoated bad habits. I worry accessible game play and strong fan communities will more lazy design we literally pay to test and improve.

But my hope is that I’m wrong. That companies will see that online human cooperation, as opposed to simple interaction, keeps their games alive. That companies will learn from past MMOs to create better and safer online experiences where people can socially develop in a global society they may not have access to every day in meatspace.

…and that someone buys the Asheron’s Call IP and brings us a new game that does it some justice. Might as well add a cherry on top of my dream ice-cream!

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My hopes are always the same: I want this to be the year that the wheel turns back around and core MMOs become something worth investing in again, and not just by developers overseas fleeing their own saturated or overregulated markets. I don’t really see that happening, so I’ll temper that by hoping we can at least hold the line another year. Massively OP did really well in 2018, but obviously our success depends on the genre and orbiting genres continuing to thrive. Even so, I say that as much as a player as press. It’s sad that I’m playing an emu for a dead MMO because I’m dissatisfied with so many of the offerings from recent years. We can do so much better than this! The full potential and promise of this genre just has not been met, and it’s so frustrating.

My fear is that more games shut down or give up in de facto maintenance mode. It concerns the hell out of me that China is willing to wreck its own homegrown game publishers, never mind everyone else’s, in the service of social engineering, so I’m worried about the future effects of autocratic bureaucracy on the industry. I worry that Blizzard appears to be genuinely struggling and WoW is floundering. I fear that the companies and players that acted like complete shitgoblins last year will continue suffering basically zero consequences and that the whole industry will slide backward instead of forward.

But I also have hope that small studios can buck the trend. Or as I put it, the only right answer to “hopes for 2019” is “please don’t eff this up, MMO studios.”

Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with some air.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I hope that Korean MMOs can make an impressive resurgence, or at least an impact to the point that they build a healthy niche. I have something of a weak spot for these kinds of games even though they can often let me down — sometimes spectacularly so in the case of titles like Bless Online. Still, with things like Ascent: Infinite Realm and Dragon Hound looming nearby, it’s something that still feels kind of possible.

On the other side of that coin, then, is the fear that Korean MMO devs will narrow focus to mobile only. This is probably the brutal reality to my fool’s hope considering that mobile gaming seems to be pretty hot in the region, and I don’t want to demean anyone who truly enjoys mobile MMOs, but it would really suck if Korean MMO devs just gave up on PC gaming and blindly chased the money.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): My biggest fear for 2019 is that Shadowbringers will be the point when Final Fantasy XIV makes a serious misstep. That’s the one that has the most immediate personal impact on me, after all, and it’s something that would really undercut the game that’s been my home for many years now. It’s not the end of the world if it happens, and I don’t think it’s likely, but it is definitely possible.

Of course, putting on my Serious Industry Professional hat, I think my bigger worry is that this is a year in which a bunch of titles need to sort of win over or win back the crowd. 2018 was not a good year for a lot of industry giants, and we’re looking at a future in which RIFT doesn’t really exist except in maintenance, a Daybreak that’s going out in a slow-sputtering fire, Blizzard is not doing nearly as well as it used to and appears to be moving closer to Activision… the list goes on. I could see 2019 as a year of severe winnowing in the online space, and while I doubt that the genre of MMOs (or MMORPGs specifically) are going to go away, 2019 feels like it could be a year of sharp turns.

But that’s also where my hope comes in. I don’t think that there’s really a path out for some of the companies and games I’m concerned about (I don’t see Daybreak suddenly becoming good, for example), but there’s space for things like breathing new life into Fallen Earth, a return to form for World of Warcraft, a good FFXIV expansion, new imports and announcements of new titles. I can even see hope for Fallout 76 starting to meet its potential. So it’s really all one of the same bundle. There are lots of signs of doom on the horizon, but this could be “doom for some and improvement for others” instead of just “doom for some.”

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I think my biggest fear right now for the industry is a lack of bold big-budget MMORPGs on the horizon. With the attrition of game shutdowns and project cancellations over the past few years, it’s starting to take anticipation and hope away. The field feels like its shrinking somewhat and we’re leaning more heavily on mature MMOs to bear the weight of our interest while we wait.

However, I do think it’s going to be a good year. I can’t tell exactly how, just yet, but there’s so much potential out there for smaller games to be surprise hits and a lot of risks being taken by indie studios. I crave some major reveals and solid wins for our genre. I’m dying to know what’s going on at some of the studios out there, and I hope that they’re being smart about the next generation of online games.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Hopes and fears eh? Well I am pretty good in the hopes department! My hopes may be more like wishes than likely outcomes, but the possibility is there. And it seems many of my fears are tied to those same hopes. I hope for less of a link between content and PvP; I’d like to see more games create content that does not require/is heavily influenced by/caters to PvP. One fear is that 2019 will still be a weird insistence that content = PvP. I also hope that more community-building features are implemented into games — ones that aren’t tied so closely with PvP. (That’s right, just making factions don’t count!) My fear is that everything will keeping drifting toward solo play. I hope to see more MMORPGs, and more innovations in MMOs, but I fear that the lure of esports and the mobile market will draw all development those directions instead. I hope that Daybreak breaks out of its downward spiral but fear that it won’t and more layoffs and closures will ensue in 2019. I’d also like to hope for less drama overall, but I am not sure I can see that happening at all; and besides, isn’t it better for MOP otherwise?

And I really hope that I can start streaming Dual Universe this year — the sooner the better! I am excited for the possibilities in this sandbox.

Your turn!

34
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Anstalt

I hope that Camelot Unchained releases – its the only MMO im interested in and the only one that has a chance of meeting my personal requirements. I’ve been an outsider looking in on the industry for the last 6 years as not a single MMO has met my requirements, but I miss being a part of a great game community.

I also hope that the genre experiences “creative destruction”. I feel like there are too many old games hanging on by their fingernails, and too many companies that are stagnating the genre, and too many awesome IPs that have been tied up but aren’t being used. That deadlock needs to end, we need to get rid of these companies that are holding the industry back, releasing up IPs for new developers and clearing the way for new companies to take the reign and start leading the genre.

My fear is that the stagnation / decline of the genre will continue. Multiplayer numbers will continue to drop so that games called MMOs aren’t actually MMOs (this is already happening way too much). Business models will continue to be predatory and a bad deal for players. Gameplay will continue to be dumbed down, leading to players getting bored even quicker than they already do and thus the churn rate will continue to climb, resulting in developers only creating short term content and ignoring things like long term community features and long term progression.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Dean Greenhoe

I just hope they remember that there is a group of gamers who are not getting any younger. Twitch based combat is not what many want.

Just a note, just because you are young and can do all this torture twisting game input for hours at end. It will eventually catch up to you.

I fear that game devs may eventually just make games for the young and pliable. They eventually will have to realize they are causing unnecessarily repetitive motion injuries.

I fear a few large personal injury lawsuits will put a huge crimp in all games development if they don’t mend their ways.

Reader
Anstalt

I’m with you on the twitch gameplay front, though not for age reasons (im 33).

I hate twitch gameplay because it is generally very shallow. When you only have a few skills at your disposal, it only takes a short amount of time to “master” the combat system, after which it all comes down to reaction times and player psychology.

I always intend to play an MMO for as long as possible as I get my fun from endgame content and community building. But, given the amount of time I spend in combat, the combat system has to remain engaging for months / years. With twitch combat, I’m generally bored within a few hours. A few times my friends were able to persuade me to push through the boredom and reach endgame (usually with promises that the combat gets much better), but each time they’ve been wrong and the combat remains shallow as fuck. In all cases, its because my friends have mistaken depth in the meta game with depth in the combat mechanics (like eso).

Random MMO fan
Reader
Random MMO fan

Genuine hopes: more narrow-focused, old MMOs will close down in 2019 and the companies which make them will go out of business (the general workforce will be fine – there is ALWAYS a demand for talented workers, regardless of what some media might want you to believe ;-)).

Fears: more companies will continue making garbage narrow-focused clones of existing games, without daring to expand the gameplay to accommodate larger amount of players with more preferences and more reasons to continue playing between major patches.
Sure, you might argue “what’s wrong with focusing the game on single aspect?”, but you will be doing this from an extremely selfish and narrow-minded point of view. Which is I guess ok if you find these things acceptable and you treat every game as “disposable item”, something you don’t feel like being invested into past a few years and you prefer to always treat it as “just a game”. I, however, wish to see players of ALL preferences having stuff to do, doesn’t matter if it’s crafting, PvE loot grinding by killing dumb “bosses” in every “SuperMegaUltraExtremeMythicUltimate” version of some dungeon or large-scale PvP “which only degenerates and sociopaths like to participate in because normal people only kill AI monsters”, or even hosting an eRP brothels ;-) I also highly dislike seeing a bunch of friends/guildmates (or players in general) completely disappear a few months after major expansions simply because they have gotten all the highest “ilvl” loot already and leveled their crafting to highest level and there’s absolutely NOTHING else fun to do in game until next patch because game developers ignored other aspects of the game – I want to always see major cities “busy” with activity by various players, to make it feel like a “living world” and less of a game, and you just cannot achieve that if you focus the game on only one major aspect (such as only PvE raiding content, without giving more tools for RP-oriented players or more reasons to fight with each other for PvP-oriented players).

Vaeris
Reader
Vaeris

Pretty much on board with Andrew. Would LOVE to see something Asheron’s Call continued in it’s original style with a subscription and no loot boxes or F2P. Full MMO for PC and not some mobile junk.

Hopes are for Pantheon to continue develoment smoothly and reach Beta/launch by December 2019 or 1st Quarter 2020. At current it is the only MMO I’m interested in seeing live.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Hopes: that Lost Ark launches in Russia before end of the year and isnt P2W. That we get both ArkCorp and Microtech in Star Citizen alpha and they blow our minds. That Amazon’s New World isnt garbage. That new WoW expansion that is announced at Blizzcon is completely fresh take on game’s lore (like MoP) and not another rehash. That there gonna be at least one new big budget MMO announcement (from Bioware maybe? Mass Effect Online? I wish..).

Fears: honestly, cant think of anything in particular. Those MMOs I care about are most definetly safe and those that might get in trouble I care little about.

ZeusBojangles
Reader
ZeusBojangles

I hope I’ve finally found the MMO that can keep me playing for more than 2 months: TESO. Really enjoying it so far.

More focus on storytelling and story-focused gameplay for all MMOs would be a broader hope of mine, though I fear that’s reaching on my part.

Reader
Utakata

I am losing hope in Blade & Soul currently. :(

Reader
rafael12104

Hang in there my friend. There is still hope and they are working on a few great things.

The next couple of months will be critical, however. Interesting because these are supposed to be the slow months and it looks like they will be anything but.

Reader
Utakata

Thanks! :)

Reader
rafael12104

Hmm, this article was almost perfectly timed. Conspiracy theories activate!

My hope for this year and almost every year is for small talented studios stay out from under the big thumb of EA, Activision or any of the other AAA bullies.

And would you look at that?! Holy Yoda! Bungee survived their contract with Activision and is now free! Free at last!

So 2019 is off to a great start, right? Heh.

I also hope that the BnS UE4 upgrade more than refreshes the game. It should usher new design and gameplay. A soft boot to get things going again and show that games don’t need new launches to be great again.

Oh, and more real progress on eliminating lootboxes as well.

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

I mostly have fear for MMOs these days. The tiny spark of hope I have is for the CoH successors and not much else. SWTOR has been on life support for at least a year if not longer, WoW’s latest expansion was a major letdown, I’m still bitter over EQN’s fate, there are less new MMOs being announced than just a few years ago where there were new announced enough to be almost a bombardment of the things.

I think FF14 is about the best of the larger population games these days but I haven’t logged in a couple of months. When playing MP games it’s been mostly shooters like Paladins and the Garden Warfare games; I’ve been focusing on old school shooter single player campaigns lately instead of MMOs.

There’s a few I have a passing interest in like Torchlight Frontiers but Perfect World don’t exactly inspire confidence. Anthem seems pretty but BW isn’t known for this style of game and they’re a shell of a dev team these days anyway. I had a friend who is in the alpha and he wasn’t negative but wasn’t glowing about it either.

Then we have games like Star Citizen and FO 76 which have their own massive controversies for various reasons and none of my friends have spoken of interest/investment of these games so am staying away.

Yeah 2019 isn’t exactly inspiring a lot of positivity on MMOs.

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

I hope that 2018 serves as a wake up call and return to quality for many of the AAA/ex AAA companies. Also I hope already released indie mmorpgs with things to offer continue to improve even if its away from major publicity and maintain healthy player numbers. I also hope funcom uses AO IP for a new mmorpg or fully renovates AO. I also hope SC doesnt go down financially before it gets ever released cause the aftershocks it would have could mean the end-of-trust of an already weary fanbase towards crowdfunding. And crowdfunding is the only reason we did have some divercity in mmo games.

My fear is that mmo game industry will become jaded too from the consequitive down years and mostly stop producing mmos for PC and fully turn to mobile where they can make more money with smaller investments

But tuth be told, what I expect is we will have another slow and quiet year with at least a few sunsets