Massively OP’s 2019 Awards: MMO Story of the Year


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2019 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Story of the Year, which was awarded to the Daybreak/Columbus Nova saga last year. This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it’s not meant 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!

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Biggest MMO Story of 2019 is…


Andy McAdams: Going for the Triple Crown here for me was again – the Blizzard Royal f*ck up of 2019. I don’t need to rehash it here. again. for a third. Seriously, HOW IS THIS A THING THAT HAPPENED? THIS IS THE WORST TIME LINE. *grumbles*

Brendan Drain: I’d love to point to a big positive story for this, but the biggest story of the year was undoubtedly the Blizzard Blitzchung saga. It’s been an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, from the scorched earth approach with the initial ban and immediately canning the casters on the stream to the completely mismanaged public communication and half-apologies. The overreaction to a political statement in support of Hong Kong was seen as a move by Blizzard to protect its business interests in China, and was an interesting reminder for many that despite how much we think a company is on our side, its primary legal responsibility is to the interests of its shareholders. The resulting boycotts by fans and stories of employee frustration from inside the company have made for a very interesting end of year.

Brianna Royce: This was a hard one for me because we’ve covered some real whoppers this year. However, the fact that there was a spontaneous international boycott of Blizzard for part of this fall as gamers sided with human rights organizations and politicians to call out the studio for its behavior? That is definitely the biggest story of the year. It’s funny because this past spring when the Ovia story came out, I snarked that finally Blizzard had come up with something to top Real ID. I had no idea it had a way more explosive mess on the way.

Carlo Lacsina: The return of City of Heroes.

Chris Neal: Blizzard boycotts. One certainly can call in to question the resolve of some, but it was pretty obvious that Blizzard done f***ed up and an impact was felt that likely those at the top never felt before. I’m not saying Blizzard scrambled in terror, but at least their ears and eyebrows got perked. And that is saying something. For the record, I am continuing to stay my course with a full breakway from the company.

Colin Henry: City of Heroes, Blizzard boycotts.

Eliot Lefebvre: I don’t want to spend another two thousand words explaining how badly Blizzard handled everything about Hong Kong, but there was one bon mot that I came up with that never came up, sadly: Yes, we have phones, but do you have spines?

Justin Olivetti: Yup, I’m going to haul out WoW Classic’s launch again because pound-for-pound, the build up to the release and the subsequent live operation was a popular and dominant story this year. Sure, you might pretend now that you weren’t following this with avid fascination, but that would be a lie.

Mia DeSanzo: Blizzard’s Hong Kong story was such a big thing that I even heard about it on NPR while I was driving to work. You know the fit has hit the shan when gaming studio news escapes from the game press into the mainstream media.

MJ Guthrie: Scope wise, the biggest story goes to Blizzard’s squashing of democracy — it was picked up on news outlets across the world.

Samon Kashani: Blizz boycotts.

Tyler Edwards: Blizzard boycotts. Pretty rare for a video game story to be picked up by major outlets and become an “international incident.”

The Blizzard boycotts won our award for Biggest MMO Story of 2019. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the MMO story of 2019?

  • Blizzard boycotts and Hong Kong mess (39%, 323 Votes)
  • Resurrection of City of Heroes (19%, 159 Votes)
  • Launch of WoW Classic (13%, 103 Votes)
  • The passing of Brad McQuaid (6%, 46 Votes)
  • Shroud of the Avatar hot potato (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Daybreak planning to split into substudios (1%, 5 Votes)
  • New LOTR MMO underway (3%, 27 Votes)
  • Anthem's ongoing mess (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Fallout 76 and Fallout First (3%, 25 Votes)
  • Riot Games working on multiple new titles (2%, 16 Votes)
  • ArenaNet Guild Wars 2 layoffs and Saga (4%, 29 Votes)
  • Riot Games' discrimination lawsuit (2%, 13 Votes)
  • Blizzard's Ovia expose (1%, 12 Votes)
  • EA and surprise mechanics (2%, 16 Votes)
  • EVE Online brings back gambling (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Nexon's non-sale and canceled titles (0%, 1 Votes)
  • New World put on hold (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Blizzard's flagging financials (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 657

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How does MassivelyOP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together over the course of a few weeks to nominate and 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.
How does MassivelyOP populate this poll?
Poll options include all stories nominated plus a few others we thought belonged in contention. Do note that we have several other awards (like Biggest Blunder and Biggest Surprise) that can have some overlap here.
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