There is no doubt that this has been a much more difficult year than most in many respects, almost to the point where it’s become a very cynical meme. However, it’s unfair to say that there has been nothing good in 2020, even in our small and nerdy neck of the woods.
Without dismissing or belittling genuine hardships that all of us have endured this year, I wanted to take a breather from doomscrolling to look at 10 MMO blessings that we encountered over the past 11 months that may give us an opportunity to feel grateful and thankful. So please keep an open mind as we sift through 2020 and find the brighter side!
MMORPG gaming was perfectly suited to the pandemic lockdowns
While a lot of our vacations and hobbies took a significant hit this year, you know what was always available in just the same fashion as before COVID-19? MMO gaming. We could be social even as we socially distanced ourselves physically, and we could find an outlet from stressful days in our online adventures. It was as if decades ago studios knew that there would come a time when we couldn’t be together in person and provided a path for safe play.
MMOs could be developed remotely
Speaking of the pandemic and lockdowns, consider just how hobbled MMO development would’ve been if this all happened in the early 2000s without the capability to effectively work remotely. Game studios didn’t shut down or lay off all of their staff, but shifted to working at home. Sure, the development pace slowed down somewhat, but it didn’t stop altogether — and dev teams managed to put out huge updates and expansions this year even as they worked from their living rooms.
New World surprised us by being a fairly decent MMO
I am sure I’m not the only one who was ready to write off Amazon’s New World after repeated delays and huge shifts in development. Yet even as we shouldered the news of a delay into 2021, people actually testing the title started giving it positive word-of-mouth all over the place. Suddenly, that delay became a good thing, a chance to take a promising candidate and turn it into a strong launch.
Studios were very generous
I was deeply impressed to see many MMO studios step up and show a lot of generosity and heart toward players this year, especially this past spring. We had games giving away so much for free or discounting left and right, both as a marketing opportunity and as a way to alleviate the suffering of their fans. Plus, many studios donated toward various charities to help disabled and hurting players.
Players became each other’s heroes
Let’s also acknowledge that many players stepped up during these months to put others before themselves and be there for their friends and those they saw as in need. We had players raise money via decorating to help with the Australian bushfire relief, guilds rallied around members who had fallen on hard times, crowds coming to grieve losses together, parents used MMOs to provide social hangouts for their kids, and so much more.
Online friends buoyed us up
Speaking of the community, having that online social connection was essential to surviving this past year. When you couldn’t head over to a friend’s house, at least you could pop online to connect with buddies near and far. Having the support of friendships through games in 2020 was a huge help, especially during some of those darker moments.
We had relatively few MMO closures…
This is a really roundabout way at getting at a blessing, but very, very few MMORPGs of note shut down in 2020. In fact, the highest profile ones were MapleStory 2 way back this past spring and Hex (as of next month) — and that was pretty much it for the big stuff. Contrast that with 2018, when no fewer than eight major MMOs ended their operations.
…and older MMOs are raging back
The trend of rogue servers picking up the fallen torches of past MMOs and running with them continued strong into 2020. From City of Heroes to Star Wars Galaxies to Warhammer Online, players had a huge menu of previously closed MMOs from which to pick. This is thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers who have lovingly restored and preserved these online titles for all of us to enjoy.
Phantasy Star Online 2 finally arrived
The MMO that nobody thought would ever arrive in the west… finally did. We got the official launch of Phantasy Star Online 2 this year, and while that release was messy, the game’s settled into a nice groove at this point. Plus, there’s the revamped New Genesis edition coming next year to bring this older MMO into the modern era.
There’s genuine reasons to be excited about what’s to come
While we are going to devote a future list to everything that’s coming in 2021 and beyond, let’s just acknowledge that there’s a whole lot to be actually excited about. We’re going to Cantha, people, and that’s just the start of it. We have major expansions and launches on deck for next year, not to mention plenty of promising MMOs in development. I can’t wait to see what’s coming around the corner!
Massively OP is still flying
Finally, we are all still thrilled that MOP is going strong well almost six years from our relaunch as an indie back in 2015. We have a terrific team of writers who deeply care about their games and getting you the best content possible, and we have an amazing community that engages with us and each other. You’ve helped to keep our virtual hangout here filled with light, love, and all sorts of weirdness.