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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