The Daily Grind: Which game made the biggest contribution to killing MMORPGs in 2020?


Here’s a sobering but fun tradition we’ve done at the top of the year ever since MOP commenter deekay suggested it back in 2016: argue over which MMO is doing its best to wreck the genre and be the reason we can’t have nice things. It’s not even necessarily the worst MMO, just one that drives the genre in a direction we don’t want it go.

World of Warcraft often bubbles to the top in these discussions since a lot of veteran MMO players consider it chiefly to blame for taking MMOs off course in the mid-aughts. But as we noted last year, while WoW is plenty big, I’m not sure it’s super influential anymore. WoW seems to be borrowing more from other games now than innovating. I mean, do you think New World, Elyon, and Crimson Desert are sitting down and looking at World of Warcraft for their core gameplay loops or monetization policies now? I’m just not seeing it personally.

So let’s tackle the topic now that 2020 is behind us. Which game, MMO or otherwise, made the biggest contribution toward killing the MMORPG genre specifically in 2020?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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The appeal of MMOs originally I’d say was to make a new life in a game; a combination of collapsing living standards so you had to spend too much time in your real life to afford any free time, the genre hiting saturation point then naturally interest dying off and with it the communities previously built fragmenting off to different games at different times, and a combination of excessive greed in the industry (microtransactions, constant stringing content out to encourage spending) and toxicity in the community (real money trading on those microtransactions, harassing critics, taking the games far too seriously) has I think led to people losing faith in the genre.
So it wasn’t one particular game, I just think by 2020 the needed something new and fresh, and that just wasn’t there.

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Ken from Chicago

It depends on how you answer this question:

Should CYBERPUNK 2077 have been released?

This was a huge game, with mainstream crossover publicity due to Keanu Reeves’ very public involvement in the game. It was announced 2012 and it was going to be huge, pushing the boundaries of what you could do in a game and then it got delayed and delayed and then Keanu got involved and it spiked attention and pre-order sales and … well … we saw what happened when it was released. If you had a high-end pc or Ps5 or Xbox Series X next gen console then it was a gorgeous game with some bugs and if you had a PS4, Xbox One or lower powered pc, it was a nightmare.

So, should it have been released?

If the answer is Yes then we have to consider the consequences: Massive complaints, lawsuits, Sony (and Microsoft) removing it from sale. How gun-shy are companies going to be after the … fallout … for, well, certainly not a lack of another word, of yet another big budget game, if not crashing and burning then “under performing”? After FALLOUT 76? ANTHEM? MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA? DESTINY? MMOs require a lot of money, time, resources and staffing to create and maintain. Who’s opting for that when AMONG US or STARDEW VALLEY ended and began 2020 with a bang?

If the answer is No then we have to consider the consequences: How long? How much patience? What’s level of expectations being set? How transparent is the company? How will the company maintain funding while developing the game? MMOs are big. And if we want more than just another murder hobo barbie game but another WORLD to wade in, to savor, to explore–and to inspire other games–then we have to consider all of the above and what it truly costs. It’s one thing to say just release the game and iterate on its development over time but it’s another when WORLD OF WARCRAFT nerfs all your purple gear back to green and negates the game mechanic you struggled to master only for it to be scrapped and replaced with a new one. Develop the systems so they are right at launch forgoes the agony of players mastering the system as is only to relearn it.

Or worse, release it early, after all the hype, all the build-up only to be another CYBERPUNK 2077 or BATTLECRUISER MILLENNIUM or DUKE NUKEM FOREVER, and players turn on your after screaming for years to release the game that you fix the game you released too early.



Official Website: “Battlecruiser Millennium is the third breaking title in the critically acclaimed and industry recognized, Battlecruiser series.”

🤣🤣🤣🤣 Points for at least some honesty in there somewhere!



Kickstarted MMOs in general aren’t in the best place, but Elyria really seemed to make people (rightfully) jaded about scams.



– PvP-focused MMOs that neglect to make that point clear in their marketing. Being repeatedly killed by other players when you weren’t expecting that to even be a thing can turn new players off from not just the game, but the whole MMO genre.

– Non-MMO games adding the little nice things that used to be exclusive (or more common) to MMOs: ad-hoc grouping, matchmaking, tools to communicate and create groups/guilds/etc, trading, persistent progression (including non-vertical progression), and so on.


In 2020? None. What led to the over saturation and thus eventual burst/collapse of the MMO bubble? The many MMOs that came out in the early 2010’s or so that were all trying to compete for a pie that wasn’t big enough.

What’s led to the lack of AAA MMOs to come out in the last 5+ years? The cost of games and the fact that they aren’t willing to take risks anymore due to the cost + corporate structure becoming all about maximizing profits for shareholders. There are better venues they can go for far less resources, i.e. mobile games and games as a service.

Then there’s also the creative bankruptcy of MMO dev studios because they all wanted to be the next WoW.

Whatsit Tooya

I’m going to say something heretical here- on terms of pure game design, I’m not sure this genre was ever all that good. I’m kind of of the Raph Koster school of thought, where he says both Ultima and SWG were quite flawed. I’m personally of the opinion that the genre’s main strength is asymmetrical and humanlike player conflict (and sometimes, cooperation on an anonymous scale). However, every implementation of open world PVP in a game that did not center around it hurt the rest of the game and was unsatisfying, and the games that do suffer from a lack of content for people who don’t want to pour in the hours per day every day in a large group, that staying competitive demands (Albion, Eve, Darkfall… tell me I’m wrong)

What made this genre such a big deal in the 2000s was its novelty in terms of social features and “realism”, and the fact it seemed like everyone was on at least one of them. Runescape has some interesting, well thought out design loops, but I find it hardly “fun”.

So my answer to the question is “a failure to seize on the unique strengths of MMORPGs while innovating against the genre’s many flaws”. I look forward to Ashes of Creation.


Genshin Impact and all the “mobilization” of the videogames.


This is a wrong question. No game is “killing off” the whole genre, the MMORPG genre will still be popular and desirable by the developers and the players, just like many others. Doesn’t matter if some company is “killing” itself by making mediocre clone of existing MMORPG games or if other company made a successful game in different genre.


Games like Destiny, The Division and Genshin Impact.

Games that are not massively multiplayer, but contain many of the roleplaying / gameplay features typically found in traditional mmorpgs.

These games have shown developers that they don’t need to bother implementing “massively multiplayer” as a feature, they can save their money and go for the easier route and just create a regular multiplayer game. They’ll still find a suitable audience to make a healthy profit.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen happening. There have been so few MMOs released over the last 5 years, instead, we just get lots of these almost-mmos. Whilst they serve a portion of the market, for those of us who want actual massively multiplayer games, they’ve been a death sentence to the genre.

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This is my thinking as well, I’m afraid. There’s obviously plenty of money out there to make multiplayer online games (side-eyes Destiny and Fortnite)… just not the sort those of us here prefer.

The most accessible portions of the MMG model were lifted out and applied to first-person shooters, monster-hunters, small-server sandbox builders. The shared interactive world was largely left on the riverbank.

Tastes change. We’re unlikely to see big, full-featured “worlds to live in” again (I’m still surprised Amazon is making New World). We’re certain to get “play with your friends online” in infinite variations.


That’s seems like a question one can ask every year with no definitive answer, outside of haters and stans – which we shouldn’t be listening to anyhows. Just saying.