Massively OP’s 2019 Awards: Best MMO Trend


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2019 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Trend, which was awarded to MMO progression servers last year. This year, all trends were back on the table. 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 Best MMO Trend of 2019 is…


Andy McAdams: You know, I nominated the slow death of lootboxes, but if we keep going at the current pace, we are likely to experience the heat death of the universe before we actually kill off gamblingboxes, so I think the rogue servers trend is a solid choice here. I’m anxiously awaiting the Wildstar rogue server because holy crap do I miss that game. Especially at the end, I was such a solid experience that not enough people wanted to give a second change to. If it it can be reborn as Rogue server, well you best be believin’ my Aurin Esper will be scampering flinging my glowy-mind-daggers at things.

Brendan Drain: Classic servers! I had a blast with WoW Classic, and Old School RuneScape now looks to have over double the active population of the modern version.

Brianna Royce: My first choice for best trend was the MMO industry’s push to bring large-scale PvP back to the forefront of play, from Camelot Unchained and Ashes of Creation to Dual Universe and EVE Online. Nobody but me seems to care, alas. Fortunately, I’m just as happy to see the rise of rogue servers this year, especially since I’ve been playing on several of them myself. I mean, yes, these servers have been around for so many games for a million years. I remember working on one myself for Ultima Online as a kid like 20 years ago, and of course our readers have watched us cover them as we could for ages. What’s new is the overall shift in MMO gamers’ mentality toward emulators and unauthorized servers, what we call rogue servers. That community opinion has clearly warmed as MMOs continue to sunset and game preservation efforts ramp up. We don’t get much snark or shaming for covering them anymore. There’s much less fear too, and much more defiance from gamers trying to reclaim their games by insisting that they belong in a museum – or better yet, to all of us when the studios are done with them. Maybe this was inevitable, but either way, I’m here for it.

Carlo Lacsina: Monetization experimentation, rogue servers. As we enter into the new decade and better technology, the question of private servers is going come front and center. While I don’t think the tech will get to the point where it’s as easy as starting a Twitch stream, it’ll certainly be easier and more accessible. The OG MMO gamers are also getting more and more experienced with this stuff, and with some companies mishandling their IPs, I can think of a few games that might benefit from some form of rogue servers.

Chris Neal: Rogue servers. This may have cooled down going in to 2020, but 2019 felt like the year that old-guard MMOs were given fresh leases on life across the internet. These games deserve to be honored, to stay online and playable, and to continue to be enjoyed by fans and genre newcomers alike.

Colin Henry: Retro servers, season passes, rogue servers. My day job is as a web programmer, and I have enough trouble keeping web services I wrote from scratch running smoothly. I can’t imagine all of the work it must take to reverse engineer a long-dead game’s server code and keep it running. Oh, and they do this all for free, because a game they loved was shut down. That’s dedication, and while it’s unfortunate that most of the IP owners are unwilling to cooperate with fan initiatives, meaning that these servers have to operate outside the law, I’m grateful to all of the people that keep the lights on for these dead games, and give us hope that we might once again explore the virtual worlds we have lost.

Eliot Lefebvre: I’m hard pressed to think of a single trend that really defined this year, but we definitely had our eyes turned toward rogue servers all year. Partly due to… well, CoH coming back.

Justin Olivetti: What’s up with this semi-sequels that we’re starting to see pop up? Overwatch 2 and Path of Exile 2 both have the naming convention of a new title, yet they’re not really. I guess it’s the new way of saying “Version 2.0.”

Mia DeSanzo: My enthusiasm for the rise of buy-to-play can’t be overstated.

MJ Guthrie: Private servers, classic servers. Everyone feels the need to jump on the classic server bandwagon. Either that, or we are getting “classic” servers via rogue servers of lost games. (I am not really complaining about the latter at all!)

Samon Kashani: Studios trying new games (like battle royale and mobile).

Tyler Edwards: I voted for the increasingly blurred line between single-player, multiplayer, and MMO as I believe it fosters greater player choice and makes gaming more approachable, but rogue servers are also a good choice. I’m not at all in favor of private serves for currently running games, but I believe games — like all art — should be preserved for posterity, so I nominally support rogue servers continuing to preserve games that would otherwise be lost to history.

The rise of rogue servers won our award for Best MMO Trend of 2019. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMO trend of 2019?

  • The rise of rogue servers and game preservation (26%, 120 Votes)
  • The slow death of lootboxes (23%, 108 Votes)
  • The push for large-scale PvP battles (6%, 28 Votes)
  • Retro and legacy servers (13%, 59 Votes)
  • Season passes for MMOs (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Monetization experimentation (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Sequels that aren't really sequels (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Popularity of buy-to-play titles (8%, 38 Votes)
  • MMOs gunning for mobile (1%, 6 Votes)
  • MMOs adding battle royale (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Blurred lines between MMOs and other genres (5%, 22 Votes)
  • Industry unionization efforts (10%, 47 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 335

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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 trends nominated plus others we thought had a chance.

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“the increasingly blurred line between single-player, multiplayer, and MMO”

This is definitely a trend and I think it could have been a good one. Unfortunately, people being people and companies being companies, the way it seems to be going for me personally is the death of offline single-player games.

Everyone wants that always-online cash shop money you just did not get from the single-player games. I mean, being able to buy a game and then just play it when and where you want without having to be online or worry about a shop in your face? That is so last decade. We can’t go into 2020 with such madness!

I look at Fallout76 and I see the future of all my single-player offline franchises.


“The slow death of lootboxes”

I think that’s more wishful thinking, along with impeachment IMO. :(


…I voted for the popularity of B2P titles. But, there’s one caveat to that. A lot of B2P games are really F2P games you have to buy. Like, ESO, it has a cash shop where they want you to spend money AFTER YOU BUY THE GAME.

How about buying the game, and unlocking EVERYTHING (cosmetics, housing, mounts, etc) by playing the game? No in game cash shop trying to double and triple dip into your wallet.

Dani Reasor
Dani Reasor

Piracy itself, piracy as a trend, winning an end-of year award at Massively feels like a turning point.


I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t in good faith vote for Rogue servers under any circumstance.

Rogue servers aren’t sanctioned by the devs that created the game. If they were they wouldn’t be rogue, right? Heh. And as such, I can’t abide by them.

I get it. I do. I love games. I love old games. But for me, MMOs are a partnership between devs and players. And if a game dies that partnership is over. And I can not support a new partnership that does not include the creators, authors and artists of that original MMO.

When I play MMOs, I feel like I have some ownership. I put time and money into the game, I pay to make the game profitable. Further, I support and whine and cajole to make the game better. But on the other side of that coin are the devs who’s artistic vision realized the game. Artist, musicians and story tellers brought the game to life. They put time and money into the game and have ownership and authorship literally. Without them there is no game for me. And that is that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not preaching. Emus and rogue servers are perfectly ok for most players. And some even advocate it as a form of preservation. If it floats your boat is ok by me.

But I won’t partake.

So I’ll choose the slow death of the loot box as the winner this year. Even though, I’m quite sure EA and Acti don’t view it as a dying component of video games. But at the very least the solid footing they were on a year ago is eroding because of their own greed. A bit of a surprise mechanic of their own making.

Roger Christie

You’re acting as though there isn’t a massive third party in there, and that’s the publisher. My impression is that the developers overwhelmingly with for their games to remain playable. It’s the rent seeking publishers that shut them down.


It doesn’t matter. I’m no fan of EA or Activision, but it’s about ownership and authorship. If they own it, it’s theirs. There is no getting around it.

I’m sorry, Bree. Leaking is hardly sanctioned.

I’m not here to preach about it as I said. I don’t blame you guys for enjoying Emus and rogue servers. No harm, no foul.

I’m just being honest. I’ve played Emus before and have logged on to rogue servers too. But no matter how great the experience I didn’t feel right about it. The nostalgia wasn’t enough to hide the fact that the game was dead and the original devs were gone. And without them, without their tacit approval, for me a game remains dead because it is their work.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I see the rise of Season passes as a very bad thing, not a good thing. It’s the further insinuation of Live Service into games. The creed of live service is to not finish a game, to purposely break a game, to purposely chop it up and to monetize every hour of gameplay. Publishers are hot on the trail of more profits and we have Anthem and Fallout 76 as sterling examples of the live service trend.

I don’t see any reason why MMOs should have seasons, not only does it suck developer time out of the game as a whole, but it creates the false pressure of buy now or miss out that is the bread and butter of monetization schemes.

I play Destiny 2 and last season got to level 100 well before the season end. The next season came quickly upon the last. Season rewards are the only reason to log on everyday to do bounties (the best way to level a season) that I’ve grown bored of. Yet if I do quests, I’m wasting my time since they are time consuming and reward very little season XP, especially compared to bounties. So, while Bungie may be making a boodle off Season Passes, it’s kinda ruined the game for me, since I can’t balance playing boring content to level efficiently vs. doing more interesting content and barely leveling at all.

TL;DR: Season pass is not a good trend.

Christmas Dog

Agreed entirely. I hate the concept of season passes because all they do is prey on those who fall into FOMO and punish people who cant spend as much time gaming (or simply wish to play multiple games).

And then as the icing on the cake, I have to pay extra to be treated that way! No thank you. It is simply another way for publishers to make cash by exploiting human behavior rather than just making a good game people want to buy, and because of that, they’re on the same level as lootboxes for me.

Rodrigo Dias Costa

I agree with you the Season passes, as are being used, aren’t a good trend. But just as are being used right now. They shouldn’t feel like a fix to a broken game, instead it should be like and add-on to an already funcional, good game.

They could become a good trend, if players vote with their wallets and only reward those of the second type, instead of being forced to pay for the first kind to have any fun at all.


Picked blurred lines between genre, it’s breathing life into a stagnant genre.

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Alex Willis

Nobody but me seems to care, alas.

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Sequels that aren’t sequels is a very loaded way to describe backwards compatibility.


And is basically jabbing at Overwatch 2 more than anything.