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

    
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MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Surprise of 2020, which was awarded to the revival of City of Heroes last year. It’s one of our younger awards, and we’ve brought it back again because it’s something quite different from just a big story or disappointment or blunder: It’s something nobody saw coming at all. 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 Biggest MMO Surprise of 2020 is…

THE BETHSOFT BUYOUT

Andy McAdams: Microsoft buying out Bethesda. Not much to say here – a Bethsoft buyout is not something I even though was on the table, especially not by Microsoft. I have some concerns about some franchises, but MS has been doing pretty good lately with not locking games into just their platforms.

Brianna Royce: The Bethsoft buyout. I didn’t see it coming at all, whereas we’d been pondering Daybreak’s sell-off intentions since last year, and I think Microsoft’s move definitely changes the playing field for the biggest tech and gaming companies vying for market share now – yes, the single-player RPG market and the console but also (and more relevantly for us) the online gaming market. Things just got interesting.

Carlo Lacsina: Guild Wars 2 is finally doing Cantha. This is it y’all! We’re finally sailing south! I’m so excited to go back! Cantha will always hold a special place in my heart and even if the expansion’s going to be sub-par, I can’t wait to finally get closure on what happened over there.

Chris Neal: Bethsoft got bought! It’s really hard to know whether this move is for woe or weald, but however this all shakes out, Microsoft snatching up every Bethsoft studio was not something I was seeing coming. In a year that was just full of complete surprises and unexpected twists, I never had even an indication of this coming down the pike. Runners-up: Last year we were surprised by City of Heroes being resurgent. This year, I’m surprised that City of Heroes is getting wholly unique new updates again. New powersets, new content, new quality-of-life updates (heck yea, asymmetry!) — I was expecting this revivified MMO to just simply sit in stasis, not to get better over time.

Eliot Lefebvre: Microsoft buying Bethesda.

Justin Olivetti: The Bethsoft buyout, LOTRO giving away tons of free content, New World not being a garbage pile. Bethesda got sold? Huh. Ooh yeah… I guess that happened. Daybreak’s feels bigger to me, even so.

Mia DeSanzo: Daybreak being acquired in the 11th hour of 2020 — it would have been a surprise in July, if it had happened then.

MJ Guthrie: As silly as it sounds, I say the Daybreak sale! I mean, so many have sat back and said “someone needs to buy it” for so long now, but did any of us think it would actually happen, that someone would? And without any hints before? And by whom exactly?! That it could be (probably needed to be) sold was a given, but somehow the sale itself still was a shocker. Actually in that vein, the Bethsoft buyout was even more surprising, because I can’t recall there being even a flitting thought about that company needing a buyer.

Tyler Edwards: The fact that the last two big subscription games kinda sorta went free to play with their expanded “trials.” I’m still surprised this isn’t getting more attention. I think people are just so used to seeing these games as the rock-solid champions of the subscription model they ignore anything that contradicts that viewpoint, but when you can play a game for dozens of hours without paying a cent, access nearly every form content the game has, and buy perks in a cash shop… your game is free-to-play, guys.

The Bethsoft buyout took our award for Biggest MMO Surprise of 2020. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest surprise in the MMO world in 2020?

  • The Microsoft/Bethsoft buyout (30%, 157 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 is finally doing Cantha (9%, 48 Votes)
  • City of Heroes rogue servers getting new content (12%, 62 Votes)
  • Daybreak getting bought out (8%, 43 Votes)
  • WoW and FFXIV inching toward free-to-play (7%, 35 Votes)
  • Chronicles of Elyria imploding (1%, 6 Votes)
  • New World rejecting the gankbox and delaying again (5%, 28 Votes)
  • Crucible's failboat (1%, 6 Votes)
  • The Blizzard employee unionization attempt (2%, 11 Votes)
  • The Epic/Apple lawsuit (4%, 22 Votes)
  • LOTRO's outage, comms fail, and expansion fib (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Camelot Unchained's second game (5%, 24 Votes)
  • Rend's collapse (0%, 0 Votes)
  • MapleStory 2 sunsetting (2%, 12 Votes)
  • The explosion of MMOs coming to Steam (3%, 16 Votes)
  • PSO2's messy western launch (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Population Zero's collapse (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Ubisoft fake bomb threat (1%, 6 Votes)
  • ArcheAge's business model switcharoo (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Torchlight III and other games veering away from MMO (3%, 14 Votes)
  • Something else (let us know in the comments!) (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 396

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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 surprises nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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arahman81

Honestly, I don’t see XIV’s expanded trial as a move towards F2P, but more of a savvy business move. The ARR storyline had always been seen as a weak point in hooking players in, and telling players to “wait for Heavensward” is not really a big winning pitch when still having them pay to slog through the 2.x storyline. The new change, however, allows players to go past that slog and enjoy the big improvement in story without having to worry about subs.

Also, the trial restrictions make it pretty tricky to do much outside of story (no retainers, no tell/fc/trade, relying on subbed players to party up), and accessing expansions still rely on buying the base game first (so that cost is the same as always).

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mike foster

Getting people through MSQ is the second hurdle behind the sub for me. But I feel the pain as a person who cannot bear to quest.

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Motherball

The fact that the last two big subscription games kinda sorta went free to play with their expanded “trials.” I’m still surprised this isn’t getting more attention. I think people are just so used to seeing these games as the rock-solid champions of the subscription model they ignore anything that contradicts that viewpoint, but when you can play a game for dozens of hours without paying a cent, access nearly every form content the game has, and buy perks in a cash shop… your game is free-to-play, guys.

Agreed, I’m not surprised they went pseudo-f2p, but definitely surprised neither studio made a big deal about it at all, and players barely noticed or don’t care. I think it’s great, even though there is a negative stigma towards f2p in general. Pretty smart, tbh.

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Utakata

For me it’s the 11:30 hour of Riot Announcing a LoL MMO developed by WoW’s infamous former LD, Ghostcrawler. Followed closely by the spectacular launch meltdown of Cyberpunk 2077…

…to which none of these made this year’s list. As they happened so close to the end of the year that can almost feel the party blowers tickling your nose. So they haven’t really registered on the MasssivelyOP consciousness yet. o.O

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arahman81

Just a note: CP2077 isn’t a MMO. But yeah, the award decisions were likely already finalized by the time Riot made the announcement.

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Paul

Got to be Beth – come on – Daybreak (or as I prefer to call them – Sunset) getting bought again wasn’t terribly surprising given the split up into separate companies earlier on :-P

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Oleg Chebeneev

Bethesda buyout for suprising, but LoL MMO was by far the biggest surprise for me

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2Ton Gamer

The DB thing was something I was not “surprised” by. It made sense and in that pantheon of those older games, it makes sense. The Bethesda thing was one of those things that came over the wire and I was like holy schnikies! That was a surprise.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

Personally for me it was SSG’s massive content giveaway for LOTRO and DDO. I’m relatively low level in both of those games, so that is going to make a big difference to my future experience of them.

Overall though I have to go with Daybreak being bought out. Not so much that it happened – the signs have pointed to it for a while – but that it appears to have happened smoothly rather than in the welter of fresh shutdown announcements I’d have expected from Daybreak.

Bethesda being bought? Honestly I’d forgotten that was a thing that happened.

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Ironwu

Yeah, I’ll go with the Bethesda choice.

But the CSE/CU blunder is a VERY close second!

Daybreak was just a matter of time after they shut down all the real losers, went back on what ‘All Access’ used to mean, and split up the holdings. So, no real surprise that they sold out.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

I picked CU’s second game. Not only did it come out of left field, but it was surprising because they have not delivered the initial product yet.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

The Bethesda sale is the industry wide news of the year. The Daybreak stuff is small potatoes comparatively.