Massively OP’s 2019 Awards: Biggest MMO Blunder

    
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Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2019 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Blunder, which was awarded to Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal disaster last year. This isn’t a meta-award we particularly enjoy giving, but we 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.

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

BLIZZARD’S BLITZCHUNG FIASCO

Andy McAdams: Blitzchung. Good grief who could have guessed that a video game company would find itself embroiled in an international incident of it’s own making, that it then proceeded to make worse….several times over. It still boggles my mind when I think about it. I cancelled my sub when it broke, and so far I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back. Maybe around expansion time? But yeah, International Incident… good lord.

Ben Griggs: Hearthstonegate. I mean, really, Blizzard. How hard is it to support individual freedoms and denounce an oppressive communist regime? Answer: not hard. I’m old enough to remember when American companies weren’t afraid to tout American values and to H-E-double-hockey-sticks with what the rest of the world thought. But what surprised me the most was the lack of any semblance of response after it became clear that the entire western world disagreed with their actions. The blunder was both surprising and disappointing.

Brendan Drain: It’s been a fine year for blunders in the MMO industry, and once again Blizzard has proven that it’s an industry leader in more than just short-term revenue gains. Blizzard’s total mismanagement of the Blitzchung story has lost it a lot of respect this year, both from outside the company and internally. Staff said that the internal silence on the incident and what it means for the company and its employees was deafening and that it was “pulling [their] teams apart at the seams.” It’s not every year that something an MMO studio does blows up into an international political incident, and it’s still not over as the esports industry is continuing to grapple with the issue of politics in competitive gaming.

Brianna Royce: We gave biggest story to the Blizzard boycott, so it seems only fitting to give biggest blunder to the decision that led directly to the boycott – in this case, Blizzard’s decision punish an esports star over his support for Hong Kong home rule, a punishment delivered quite obviously at the behest of the company’s Chinese counterparts. Over the course of October and November, Blizzard had multiple opportunities to repair that blunder, but instead it doubled down on it, banning additional players, quashing events, and delivering a nonpology at BlizzCon. It’s genuinely shameful and sad to see how Blizzard, an online games company that’s been so key for my entertainment for so long, has fallen. I don’t think gamers will ever see Blizzard quite the same way ever again.

Carlo Lacsina: Literally October. I mean… Blizzard’s Blitzchung call opened a can of giant sand worms. The political ramifications with this event was so insane it even had me thinking about the morality of playing their games. Then there was the politics associated with this event. After all this, I don’t trust the company anymore either.

Chris Neal: Blitzchung. I’m not sure where I am in the order of this article, but I’m hard-pressed to believe I’d be saying anything that my fellow writers here at MOP haven’t said before. Just… ugh. That’s all I can muster. Ugh.

Colin Henry: Blizzard’s Blitzchung decision. What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? It was sad to see a studio, that has made game after game telling stories of heroes who fight for justice and stand up to oppression, actually participating in real-world oppression. What should Blizzard have done in this circumstance? That’s a complicated question, but I think it’s safe to say, what it did do was not it.

Eliot Lefebvre: Basically everyone in October. Square-Enix, Pearl Abyss, and ZeniMax emerged looking fine. But otherwise it was just… Blizzard screwing up, or Bethesda screwing up, or Daybreak screwing up, or… what studio even owns Shroud of the Avatar at this point? Do I own it? If so, how can I give it back?

Justin Olivetti: Oh Blizzard, you could have and should have handled that Hearthstone ruling so much better — and you could have and should have responded to the furor in a much more tactful and meaningful way at BlizzCon. At least it helped show the true colors of a company that wants everyone to like them but doesn’t have enough humility to mask its arrogance.

Mia DeSanzo: Anthem pretty much fell flat on its face. That’s all there was to my vote there. I was trying not to pick the obvious, despite having a WoW piece held up for a few weeks while that mess was still exploding.

MJ Guthrie: How can I choose? The industry had so many to choose from! We even have a cringe-worthy month! (Poor October, you deserved so much better.) And hidden behind all that and the Blitchchung fiasco was Daybreak’s Family and Friends Edition expansion pack for EverQuest II’s Blood of Luclin that could have been such a positive thing. Instead, it offers just one tradeable standard expansion with six tradeable other items for $249.99. You can almost buy two full premium editions for that price and each would get all those premium goodies. I was hopeful it would be a real deal, but no. It feels like fleecing.

Samon Kashani: The Blitzchung mess.

Tyler Edwards: Blizzard’s Blitzchung ban. Video game companies making mistakes is hardly uncommon, but usually it’s something pretty harmless in the greater scheme of the world. It might piss off the players of a particular game for a while, but that’s all. Helping a brutal dictatorship stifle dissent, though? That’s a whole other level.

Blizzard Blitzchung fiasco won our award for Biggest MMO Blunder of 2019. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO blunder of 2019?

  • Blizzard's Hong Kong fiasco (46%, 369 Votes)
  • ArenaNet Guild Wars 2 layoffs and reorganization (6%, 49 Votes)
  • Shroud of the Avatar's corporate hot potato (3%, 24 Votes)
  • Daybreak's layoffs, PlanetSide Arena, reorganization (2%, 18 Votes)
  • The cancellation of Peria Chronicles (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Anthem's shaky launch and status (7%, 60 Votes)
  • Fallout 76's many messes and Fallout First (14%, 112 Votes)
  • ArcheAge Unchained's ArchePass being a trainwreck (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Apex Legends dev calling players freeloaders (2%, 13 Votes)
  • EA trying to make surprise mechanics happen (4%, 33 Votes)
  • Blizzard's bait-and-switch on the WoW esports prize pool (3%, 26 Votes)
  • Gamigo giving up on RIFT's progression server (0%, 3 Votes)
  • ESA getting caught with terrible data security (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Riot's poor handling of the discrimination lawsuit and walkouts (3%, 24 Votes)
  • Sunsetting Bless Online while pushing Bless Unleashed (2%, 16 Votes)
  • WHO gaming disorder classification (2%, 15 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments) (1%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 595

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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 blunders nominated plus a few others we thought deserved consideration.
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Reader
Aggrax

Personally, I wouldn’t call the Blizzard incident the biggest MMO blunder of the year because the actual blunder didn’t really involve an MMO. It was a Company Blunder, in my eyes. It was definitely the worst overall, but for MMOs specifically Fallout 76 blundered way harder. (Though goodness knows BFA tried it’s hardest to win that spot).

Reader
Bruno Brito

You just typed a huge wall of text to basically say “communism good, capitalism bad.”

If you’re a love of history, you’ll also love the fact that every attempt towards communism was deterred by the system corrupting itself on the figure of the dictator.

Communism is no answer to anything. Capitalism is full of flaws, and isn’t in no way, the best we can do, but i’m not going to pretend one extreme should be fought with the other extreme. There are better ways.

Reader
Danny Smith

Blizzard got everyone i know to refund their WC3R prepurchases, cancel their WoW subs and uninstall battle net. In business terms i can’t think of a worse screw up than “drove consumers to not only quit our product but remove our storefront ecosystem from their homes” because thats a significant oops moment.

hurbster
Reader
hurbster

Caused me to quit Classic (and I love Classic), so the Hong Kong stuff. At least the shitestorm that is FO76 gives me endless amounts of amusement.

Reader
Utakata

So this is “Something else (tell us in the comments)” then? o.O

Reader
rafael12104

Well, I appreciate your input. And certainly China and all that it involves beyond the country itself, ie. press, world view, myths etc. is a topic worth many pages of discussion and debate.

But in brief. I’ve worked in China for a long time. The company I worked for sent me there for extended stays. I literally worked and lived among the Chinese people. And while there were some marked differences, I never felt nor did I see oppression. There was no gulag around the corner.

And yet I can understand what is going on in HK. There is a huge difference between living in Shanghai and living in HK, for example. You can feel it and see it. And the simple fact of the matter is that HK thought it was a democracy and then it hit them, like a ton of bricks, that they are not. The protests are warranted, IMO and so is the fight.

As for Blizz? I don’t believe that the company is politically motivated. But the company’s stupidity in how they handled the situation is clear. They didn’t need to embroil themselves in the HK debate, but their response put them front and center. And they deserve everything that they got. Heh. There blatant attempt to protect their interests in China was laid bare. And the fact that China’s own statement following Blizz was eerily similar was no accident.

And that is what we are talking about here. And thus, it is the biggest blunder.

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vgees

The whole Anthem Bioware Magic fiasco should have been the easy winner, but Blizzard’s truly breath taking handling of the Blitzchung affair made for the come from behind win!

I’ll never again be able to play my MMOs blissfully unaware of the morally bankrupt shenanigans of the companies that make and publish the games I love. *sigh*

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Chosenxeno .

Voted for FO76 because I don’t care about China or Hong Kong. Not my problem.

Pepperzine
Reader
Pepperzine

You’re missing the entire point of this award. It’s not which blunder did you care about the most, it’s out of all the blunders that occurred which was the biggest of the year. Whether you personally care about the blunder is not the question, which was the biggest does not solely revolve around you.

Reader
Chosenxeno .

I didn’t miss the point. I clearly said I thought it was FO76.

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Tanek

Then why even put the “not my problem” bit? The implication was clearly that even if it was a bigger story, it did not affect you directly, so you picked something that did.

Which is fine, if that’s the way you feel you need to go with it, but don’t be surprised when people take something exactly the way you presented it. ;)

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Chosenxeno .

That was me explaining why I didn’t vote with Massively on this.

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Arktouros

Don’t really see how Blitzchung involved MMO related blunders but FO76 on the other hand basically lurched from one blunder/disaster to the next.