Massively OP’s 2019 Awards: Biggest MMO Surprise


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2019 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Surprise, which was awarded to the buyouts of Trion Worlds and CCP Games last year. This was a new award for us last year, and we’ve brought it back again because it’s something a big different from just a big story or disappointment or blunder: It’s something nobody saw coming at all.

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


Andy McAdams: City of Heroes and getting hired at MOP. I don’t think anyone expected the dramatic, exploding return of City of Heroes in 2019. It was a wondrous surprise and actually gave me the ability to experience the game, because I had missed it the first time around. I’m glad it was such a success and glad it hit us out left field.

Brianna Royce: “A surprise, but a welcome one!” I had no idea this was going to be the year City of Heroes blew up and players would turn it into a publicly playable thing, nor did I have any idea how central we’d be to its return, or what kind of drama we were stepping into by covering it – and how many people there really were eager to jump back in. It was an agonizing, exhausting, draining story to cover for months, but it was worth every minute to do our tiny part to get the game playable once again. Cheers for game preservation! I also didn’t see the Funcom DUNE game coming, but color me intrigued.

Carlo Lacsina: BDO Shai, CoH’s Resurrection. When I first joined the team, it was so cool seeing all the hard work Bree and the rest of the Massively team put into getting this story out accurately. So for me, it was cool to see what true and honest journalism looked like. On top of that, I was happy to see a whole community have a chance to finally reunite in the game. The juicy drama that came from it was also soooo fun to follow!

Chris Neal: CoH resurrection. Even if I feel like I’ve moved on past City of Heroes, seeing it come back in full and with at least a stay of execution from NCsoft is a remarkable thing, not just for the game’s fans, but for game history preservation in general. I never would have guessed this was going to ever happen.

Colin Henry: CoH resurrection. One of my great regrets in my gaming life was that I never got to play City of Heroes before it shut down. I never thought I’d have the chance to rectify that, but this past summer, I found myself logging into Paragon City for the first time. The game really is as unique and special as all of its fans have made it out to be for all of these years, and I’m glad that, through a bizarre series of events, we finally have it back in a playable form.

Eliot Lefebvre: City of Heroes, like… came back? And stayed back? I literally do not know how to feel about this, but it’s just… so wild I can’t even articulate it fully. I was playing this game again! Holy crap.

Justin Olivetti: Another rhetorical question: Did anyone really think, going into 2019, that this would be the year that City of Heroes would be returned to us? It was a messy, bizarre, and captivating saga from the revelation of a secret emulator to the code’s release to the public to negotiations with NCsoft to make this puppy legitimate. Hey, it was just great to be playing City of Heroes in 2019 once more!

Mia DeSanzo: CoH resurrection’s. Like the Spanish Inquisition, this was not something I ever expected.

MJ Guthrie: The re-emergence of City of Heroes from out of nowhere (and not being immediately squashed) was the biggest surprise for me. Runner-up was the fact that the devs still working at WildCard (note, not any of the problem children who abandoned it and moved on to their “next big thing” in Atlas) announced that ARK will be getting another DLC instead of all focus moving to making an ARK 2; this decision was said to be to support and reward the committed community, and that feels like the first non-“screw you players” decision (that is rightfully expected) in who knows how long.

Samon Kashani: ArenaNet’s messes.

Tyler Edwards: City of Heroes coming back from the dead. Who could have seen that coming?

The revival of City of Heroes won our award for Biggest MMO Surprise 2019. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest surprise in the MMO world in 2019?

  • The revival of City of Heroes (43%, 329 Votes)
  • Funcom landed the DUNE IP for a new MMO (6%, 47 Votes)
  • PhantasyStar Online 2 is coming to the west finally (6%, 47 Votes)
  • ArcheAge got a new business model with Unchained (5%, 37 Votes)
  • Raph Koster announced a brand-new MMORPG (4%, 29 Votes)
  • FFXIV Shadowbringers makes mainstream gamers swoon (7%, 51 Votes)
  • SWTOR loosened its F2P restrictions (2%, 17 Votes)
  • Shroud of the Avatar got sold to one of its devs (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Fallout 76's Fallout First (2%, 19 Votes)
  • People actually boycotted Blizzard in support of human rights (10%, 77 Votes)
  • ARK put out new DLC instead of a sequel (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Champions Online actually got new content (2%, 14 Votes)
  • ArenaNet's layoffs, game cancellations, and GW2 bungles (4%, 30 Votes)
  • Fallen Earth was sunsetted (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Worlds Adrift was shut down (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Daybreak actually kinda launched PlanetSide A (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Kritika Online came back from the dead (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Surprise mechanics! Just kidding. Don't waste a vote on this. (5%, 37 Votes)
  • Something else (let us know in the comments!) (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 642

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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 surprises nominated plus a few others we thought deserved consideration.
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Chestnut Bowl
Chestnut Bowl

PSO2’s localization is the biggest surprise for me.

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Paragon Lost

Pleasant surprise was City of Heroes return. Unpleasant surprise, Funcom doing Dune.


100% in agreement on both. I love the Dune novels (at least the first three) and several of the more recent books were interesting as well. There’s so much potential lore that a MMO based on the property could have a 15 year run with an excellent expansion every year and still have a good deal of new ground to tread. But Funcom won’t put together a good game worth playing. They will launch something half-baked and not be able to afford to give it the development time effort to make it long-lasting or worthwhile of being played. Sure, I’ll give it a shot but I fully expect to be out at the end of month #2.

Zulika Mi-Nam
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Zulika Mi-Nam

It is not so much the revival of City of Heroes that surprised me. It’s the IP holder more openly allowing it to happen that I am both surprised by and thankful for.

Especially since what was once Turbine made a program to hand things over to the players fro Asheron’s Call, reneged on it, and then refused to let Standing Stone do anything with it as well.

If you would have made a bet with me years ago that NCSoft would be more fan friendly than Turbine…..there would be a huge line of people waiting to kick me in the nutz right now.


Revival of City of Heroes was a nice surprise. But, I’ve always felt that it was only a matter of time.

Now, Blizzard being boycotted in support of human rights? Holy shit. I never thought I’d see that day. A year ago, could you have predicted that? Blizz took the real world stage there for a moment. The United Nations was paying attention. LOL!

Nah, if I’m being honest, Blizz’s human right’s debacle is number one.

The honorable mention surprise is EA’s Jedi Fallen Order. Not a single micro-transaction or shenanigan. And a single player game which garnered full support from a company that declared single player games dead a year ago. Heh. You don’t fuck with the Mouse.


I highly doubt Disney had anything to do with the absence of microtransactions in Jedi Fallen Order: it was more likely a PR move for a game that had very limited additional monetization potential to begin with. The Mouse keeps a tight rein on what happens with their licenses and it’s highly unlikely that the Battlefront 2 BS went live without their previous approval.


Jedi Fallen Order felt like an apology to Disney. I think it is fair to point out that we don’t know the interpersonal comms between Disney and EA. But we do know that Wilson had a meeting with Disney right after Battlefront 2 blew up, and since then EA has managed Star Wars games differently.

Oh, and it would have been easy to monetize Fallen Order even thought it is a single player game. Just like Shadows of Mordor they would have blocked items and even bosses behind an artificial currency.

It was a nice surprise to Fallen Oder free of “EA Way.” It may not last. But at least they are thinking outside the EA box.

Malcolm Swoboda

For me, Chronicles of Spellborn.

Bryan Correll

The reappearance of CoH is right up there with the discovery of the missing Doctor Who serials The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear in a Nigerian storage room as happily surprising news from my perspective.

PS Andy getting hired didn’t get a spot on the poll?

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I’m surprised by the announcement for Amazon’s New World MMO has the game coming out so soon.


The second I saw “Don’t waste a vote on this” I had to do it.

You’re welcome.

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Alex Willis

I voted “People actually boycotted Blizzard in support of human rights”. I’m still surprised at the strength of the reaction. It was the first moment of genuine solidarity in games I’ve seen since…well…ever.

Danny Smith

I believe my reaction to fallout 1st was an out loud “the audacity of this bitch”.