Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: Biggest MMO Blunder of 2020

    
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MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020, which was awarded to Blizzard last year thanks to the multi-month Blitzchung fiasco. This isn’t a meta-award we particularly enjoy giving, but we think this type of accountability is a fitting complement to praising trends and big stories: Identifying where the industry went wrong this this year is crucial to both avoiding these genre trainwrecks and preparing for them in the future.

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020 is…

STANDING STONE’S LOTRO FIASCO

Andy McAdams: The Epic-Apple kerfuffle. Maybe 2020 (and 2019 and 2018) has desensitized me towards blunders, or maybe as I don’t play a SSG game it impacted me less, but the LOTRO stuff didn’t even enter my mind.

Brianna Royce: LOTRO is actually getting several positive nominations from me this year, so it pains me to give it a bad one here, but let’s be real: Standing Stone, or Daybreak if Daybreak is the one giving these orders, absolutely squandered the mountains of goodwill it generated in giving away content during COVID. Players might have forgiven the multiple weeks of technical snafus and crashing and downtime (and even a rollback for one unlucky DDO server) but for the abysmal communication along the way. Then it topped it all over with a seriously gross monetization shift meant to wring cash out of the most loyal players with blatant lies about a skimpy paid patch being an “expansion.” The studio head’s belated candor at the very end of the year may have assuaged some of my frustration, but it doesn’t make up for the blunders along the way. These were huge screw-ups from a game people love to love. I hope SSG reflects on them.

Carlo Lacsina: The time LOTRO was down for what felt like an age. Holy crud, I don’t play LOTRO personally, but I just felt so bad for the people who couldn’t play their favorite MMO. Imagine the anxiety players probably had over the server going down permanently and losing their character forever!

Chris Neal: SSG bellyflopping with LOTRO. As I’ve said before, this communication clownshow and the subsequent disappointment that was the not-expansion expansion was bad enough that I didn’t want to offer sub money that I was wasting on SWTOR to SSG out of sheer principle. SSG made a dog’s breakfast out of LOTRO so hard that someone who doesn’t even play their game wasn’t about to award them money for it. And I don’t think I was alone in that sentiment, either. And for my runner-up, Camelot Unchained’s Final Stand Ragnarok. Hoo boy oh boy, was this just a bad look. Not to insinuate that City State Entertainment shouldn’t be allowed to make more than one game, but the timeline on Camelot Unchained’s release already felt extremely shaky, so to announce that the studio was working on a second title at the same time really did at least feel like a rug pulling moment even if it wasn’t meant to be. Mostly, though, I feel bad for Jacobs, who has appeared subsequently more worn down over the course of the year.

Eliot Lefebvre: The world was covered in death, and then SSG managed to show off all of the great content it has for years with a remarkably generous offer for Lord of the Rings Online. And then they spent the back half of the year pissing away literally all of that goodwill through a sequence of actions that couldn’t be more efficient if they tried. Seriously, who charges money for a content patch?

Justin Olivetti: The SSG/LOTRO mess. What makes this reward so bitter to me is that by all rights, LOTRO should’ve been coming out of 2020 looking like a prince among games. SSG did so good by its players by making all of LOTRO’s content free for months (and then a good chunk of that content free forever thereafter). But then came the server woes of the summer and the horrible “mini-expansion” fiasco of the fall, and SSG’s retreat into non-communication and defensive posturing drained all of the goodwill out of the bank and replaced it with sour feelings. Sigh.

Mia DeSanzo: Amazon/New World setting an August release date in the first place.

MJ Guthrie: LOTRO. Like, what?! I am still just flabbergasted at the debacle that happened there this year. From the game going down for an extended period to silence in communication to that ridiculous “expansion” ordeal. I am a LOTRO player and that still baffles me how that all came about, and it leaves such a stain on the game that is going to affect it for a while.

Sam Kash: LOTRO – its downtime and overall disaster this year. I literally couldn’t create an account. Nothing can compete with that.

Tyler Edwards: I don’t think anything quite tops how consistently and thoroughly awful Ubisoft execs have been. Things that hurt people in the real world are always going to trump game blunders, no matter how bad they are (cough LOTRO cough).

SSG’s LOTRO fiasco took our award for Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO blunder of 2020?

  • SSG's LOTRO mess - outages, comms fail, expansion fib (41%, 339 Votes)
  • The Epic/Apple lawsuit (6%, 47 Votes)
  • Camelot Unchained's second game (7%, 62 Votes)
  • New World's repeated delays (4%, 31 Votes)
  • EG7 buying Daybreak (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Chronicles of Elyria closing down and then trying to press undo (10%, 80 Votes)
  • Torchlight III and other games veering away from MMO (5%, 41 Votes)
  • Ubisoft. Just Ubisoft. (8%, 65 Votes)
  • Whatever Amazon was up to with Crucible (6%, 51 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 hiding MikeZ's departure and successor (3%, 29 Votes)
  • ArcheAge's business model switcharoo (4%, 33 Votes)
  • Continuing to try to make Bless happen (4%, 36 Votes)
  • Bringing Atlas Reactor back as Atlas Rogues too early (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments) (1%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 669

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How does MassivelyOP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together to nominate and discuss candidates and hopefully 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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Bango on Laurelin

Well deserved.

What a joke the game has become. The “mini expac” aka quest pack is the first paid-for content that I have not bought in 13+ years of playing.

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Bruno Brito

The fact that LoTRO is winning on a year that was plagued by sexual harassment allegations and Ubisoft being one of the worse yet shows how much people absolutely loathe developers with holier-than-thou attitudes.

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treehuggerhannah

I think a factor here is how we define “blunder.” (As I commented below.) To me, a blunder is a mistake or a bad decision, not an intentional harmful or criminal act.

Sexual harassment is deliberate misconduct. I wouldn’t call it a blunder because to me that actually minimizes it by making it seem like just a misunderstanding or something. Sexual harassment is worse than this category to me, so it doesn’t fit it.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I thought Atlas Rogues was a pretty bad blunder. The game is just 100% awful. I’ve hardly ever refunded a game so fast. Six minutes, maybe.

All the same, LOTRO’s down time and apparent inability to coherently explain what was what was just pathetic. Then, to find out they are owned by Daybreak puts the cherry on top. Bad following bad. I’ve thrown a lot of money at LOTRO over the years, but my lying and deception meter has gone permanently red for these jokers.

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treehuggerhannah

I’m torn on whether to say Elyria or LOTRO.

What Elyria did was a thousand times worse.

But to me, “blunder” implies that the company made a mistake or did something tone deaf while at least trying to do the right thing. Elyria took advantage of their customers on purpose. LOTRO screwed up but was at least trying to deliver on their promises and provide a functional game.

I think what LOTRO did was more of a legitimate blunder and what Elyria did was more acting crappy intentionally, but it feels weird to choose LOTRO as the bigger blunder when it was the lesser of two evils.

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PanagiotisLial1

Yes agreed, I just think LOTRO is more known and most people arent affected and many dont even know the CoE case

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Darthbawl

MJ said flabbergasted… 😋😍

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Rndomuser

Definitely Crucible. A company which basically belongs to the richest man in the world pushes out extremely mediocre and unimaginative clone of many other “small team” FPS games, does it prematurely, wastes huge amount of money on paying Twitch streamers to pretend that they like this game, then puts it back into Early Access and finally shuts down when some person responsible for Amazon Games Studio finally realizes that this game will never be profitable enough until it will be able to do something that would make it stand out and which most likely would require complete rework from ground-up and many more years in development since the team works so slowly and spent so much time on making such mediocre unfinished game. I believe New World will go through same experience, except it will skip the “put back in Early Access” stage after it will be officially released.

As for LOTRO – I stopped enjoying it years ago and whatever happens with it now is just a natural process of a game that slowly fades into oblivion. Extra money from new owners will not help, the game requires a complete overhaul with new modern engine (not putting more band-aids on current engine) and with large team which can add more variety of gameplay to it and this will absolutely not happen.

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Greaterdivinity

LOTRO is a good pick given the disaster that their servers were. But I’m goin for Crucible…because…ho boy. Amazon’s first proper entry into the gaming space following their last game not coming out of beta and…it faceplants almost immediately, gets unreleased to go back into testing, and is canned months later.

Combined with the delay of New World (which is good!), it’s an awful first look for a company that wants to be a major player in the development space.

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Anstalt

Whilst CU remains the only MMO im actually looking forwards to, I voted for their Ragnarok announcement as biggest blunder.

For the record, I don’t think it’s a mistake for them to accept lots more funding for CU and as a consequence being forced to make a second game. That’s the price of being in the games industry and seeking external funding, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

However, their announcement was a big mistake, handled in a completely weird way, turning what should have been a great bit of news (a big pile of new cash!) into a PR disaster. Big blunder.

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zoward

I’m assuming DDO is being lumped in with LotRO here, since Bree specifically mentioned the “one unlucky server” (i.e., DDO‘s Wayfinder, the one my main was on). I logged in to assess the damage, and found I’d lost four levels, and a ton of rep, etc. I sat on my hands looking at the list of things I would need to redo just to get back to where I had been, then walked away from both games. I seem to recall reading that they gave away some experience buffs, and maybe even a bunch of free experience for those onthe server, but that still doesn’t make up for the lost rep, items, etc. And of course, you’re always thinking, “do I really want to invest a lot of time and/or money in this game knowing it can happen again?”.

Test your backups early and often, folks.

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Hmm. Yeah. It’s LOTRO.

I have to admit, for a while there I thought they were trying to kill the game.