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


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…


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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