Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: Worst MMO Business Model


MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Worst MMO Business Model, which was awarded jointly to Star Citizen and Fallout 76 last year. This faux-ward is a counterpart to our award for the best business model of the year and is intended to recognize an MMO of any age that has demonstrated a particularly awful or consumer-unfriendly business model specifically in 2020, regardless of its past performance. This award does include pre-launch MMOs, as long as those games are operating a launched business model as well. 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 Worst MMO Business Model of 2020 is…


Andy McAdams: “Worst” is going to be relative here as I can’t think of any that are especially heinous – so I’ll say Guild Wars 2 because while I would throw money at that game, they consistently don’t have anything I want to buy in the Gem Store. But still, how many years has Star Citizen existed and still hasn’t produced a launched game, yet still rakes in piles of money over pixel ships where the pixels don’t actually even exist yet? Yeah, Roberts would 100% be in Revendreth for a long, long time.

Brianna Royce: As I type this, we are on week two of Star Citizen hyping a $600 ship that isn’t even flyable yet. This is shameful. CIG, you should be embarrassed to still be doing things like this. You deserve this call-out, regardless of how cool the game is in alpha and winds up being in the end. Runner-up side-eye to Gamigo for the stunt it pulled with changing ArcheAge Unchained’s business model this year after swearing in 2019 that it would not charge for expansions. Seriously, stop giving these companies money, people.

Carlo Lacsina: Free-to-play with a cash shop lacking sexy outfits.

Chris Neal: ArcheAge, Star Citizen. Whether it was the unmitigated disaster that was the rollout of the ArchePass or the sudden bait-and-switch regarding the game’s next expansion, every monetization decision that ArcheAge seemed to make was dumber and dumber and dumber. And not just a “mea culpa” kind of dumb, either. Just consistently ignorant levels of dumb. It was just dumb. It’s dumb.

Eliot Lefebvre: Screw it, Star Citizen again. (Bonus nod to ArcheAge for pissing away the goodwill Unchained had initially generated.)

Justin Olivetti: Star Citizen’s galactic whaling and ArcheAge.

Mia DeSanzo: ArcheAge Unchained — specifically supposed to remedy the issues of the original, manages to replicate them.

MJ Guthrie: The nightmare that is ArcheAge Unchained wins this for me. Buy the game, sure no problem. But wait, you need to buy it again to go on this special server even if you had the original. Um, ok. Then the special season passes start up and get convoluted. Nothing about this system said anything but greedy money grab to me and ensured I had nothing to do with it.

Sam Kash: ArcheAge Unchained, anything with subs.

Tyler Edwards: Star Citizen now and forever. People are basically paying them not to make a game at this point — they’ve clearly clued in that they can make more money by selling dreams than a finished game.

Star Citizen and ArcheAge took our award for Worst MMO Business Model. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What MMO had the worst business model in 2020?

  • Star Citizen (39%, 1,419 Votes)
  • ArcheAge and ArcheAge Unchained (16%, 591 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (1%, 45 Votes)
  • Genshin Impact (5%, 178 Votes)
  • Fallout 76 (4%, 150 Votes)
  • Shroud of the Avatar (2%, 84 Votes)
  • SWTOR (1%, 27 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (2%, 89 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (1%, 28 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (1%, 47 Votes)
  • Black Desert (3%, 101 Votes)
  • LOTRO (1%, 43 Votes)
  • EVE Online (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Pokemon Go (1%, 27 Votes)
  • Ashes of Creation (0%, 14 Votes)
  • Camelot Unchained (1%, 26 Votes)
  • Crowfall (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 27 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (0%, 10 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Dual Universe (0%, 10 Votes)
  • Legends of Aria (0%, 2 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 16 Votes)
  • Anything free-to-play (3%, 104 Votes)
  • Anything buy-to-play (0%, 17 Votes)
  • Anything crowdfunded (1%, 36 Votes)
  • Anything with a sub (2%, 66 Votes)
  • Anything pay-to-win (10%, 355 Votes)
  • Something else (let us know in the comments!) (1%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,644

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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 MMOs nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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