Massively Overthinking: The 2021 MMORPG outlook is good, actually


Early this week, I saw a mainstream gaming headline in my feeds about how we should all just give up on 2021 since it’s obviously going to be a year full of fails and catch-ups and delays. But over here in the MMORPG genre itself, I’m actually feeling pretty good about it – we have multiple major patches and expansions for top MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2, with some other big games like New World, Crimson Desert, Elyon, and Crowfall just waiting to launch. It’s not the 2010-2012 peak of the market or anything, but this is a really good lineup for our genre, especially lately, especially during the pandemic – and that’s without even dipping into slightly smaller titles.

So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of the team and the readers. How are we feeling about MMOs in 2021? What, specifically, are you looking forward to in MMO land over the rest of 2021?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Crowfall is basically the only big title on my radar for 2021. New World has gotten some people talking, but it’s nothing good enough to get me excited as a potential customer. Content patches for existing games are good for their existing players, but for people waiting for something that might inject some new creativity into the genre that will bring in a new generation of players, I think we’re going to have to wait a bit longer.

Andy McAdams: I don’t really have any expectations, and I’m not looking forward to anything in particular from MMOs this year. There’s some good stuff coming(ish) as Bree calls out above – there’s a few Eastern MMOs which have never really resonated strongly with me, and then two others of very dubious possibility of launching this year. I don’t think that the industry is in an especially bad place; I think it’s pretty good! But there’s really nothing getting me excited about the rest of 2021. It’s more like “there’s some cool stuff coming for a lot of other people, but we’ll see if anything gets 1) gets out the door and 2) is actually interesting to me.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’m in a weird place because a lot of the big MMOs and expansions coming aren’t usually “for” me, but I’m also usually OK with that because you really can’t play everything. There’s just not enough time. I’m super content in my games and just want to see the whole genre doing well around me. That honestly makes me happier than when a game is for me. I’m weird. It’s probably just this job taking over my life.

But all that said, this year is much more “for” me than usual. Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons is literally Cantha, something I’ve wanted since the beginning. Elder Scrolls Online’s new companions might actually help me not bounce off the game. Heck, even SWG Legends is getting the Bespin expansion. And that’s without even gazing over at the likes of New World, Crowfall, and Crimson Desert.

Yeah, this is definitely a good year. I would love to see the “MMOs are dead” narrative finally put to rest.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Personally speaking, I’m so invested in Elite Dangerous that I’m not sure I’m going to want to play another MMO, but there are other games I’m enjoying as well like Monster Hunter Rise and Sea of Thieves and Dauntless. All of which is tied to the fact that I have my husband and a very good friend to play with. It’s nice to have a static.

As for the wider MMORPG world, I still feel generally confident about things. While games like Dual Universe and Chronicles of Elyria and Dreamworld certainly sour things, I still am interested in peeking in on upcoming things like Crowfall, the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion, Elyon, and even interested in a few crowdfunded titles like The Wagadu Chronicles and Book of Travels. So, yeah, things are pretty good in my opinion. Though, again, that certainly is colored by the fortunate social setup I mentioned earlier.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): Given that my favorite MMO, Guild Wars 2, is finally getting an expansion after several years without one, I’m actually feeling pretty good about 2021! I’m also interested in The Elder Scrolls Online’s upcoming expansion. From what we’ve seen of the companion system, it seems like it will add a lot of flexibility to my gameplay, as I tend to play solo or with my wife rather than with a larger group. Finally, LOTRO has my attention with the Gundabad expansion and the promise of a new class on the horizon. Not that I need more alts in that game, as I’m never anywhere near current content on any of my characters. Honestly, even if no new MMOs launched this year, I would be happy with just these expansions. Obviously I’m always happy when a new, good quality MMO launches, but if none of them are my cup of tea, I will be perfectly content with the games I have.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I kind of feel like I’m in a low-key holding pattern of excitement for a lot of promising projects. Stuff like Ashes of Creation or Pantheon feel too far out to justify my attention and anticipation. Probably my biggest “most wanted” titles for 2021 are WoW’s Burning Crusade Classic and New World, both of which are a lot closer and might release in my lifetime. I really wouldn’t mind getting some sort of Book of Travels, Ship of Heroes, and Corepunk beta action going on, too.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’m totally on board with MMOs for 2021. Like the intro says, there’s a good number of games right on the cusp of release, many that we’ve been eagerly waiting for.

I know that nothing has really stuck with me as my daily driver in quite a while, but I’m hopeful one of these games will be “the one.” I’ve got my highest hopes on Crowfall, but that’s probably because I had my sight set on it since the initial Kickstarter announcement.

Crimson Desert looks very cool. I hope it has enough in it to keep me interested for more than a couple of months though.

In general, I think I’m past the days of full on hype for a game, but I sure am looking forward to these games.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!

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Did anyone that is excited for Crowfall play the latest beta? This game took years and millions and still is a lifeless corpse of a game. Calling the current state “beta” feels like an act of desperation. I donÄt expect any success from Crowfall for the next 2-3 years. I hope they have enough money to sustain that time.


Yeah, I get the feeling that the framework for a great game is there… now they just need to add the missing layer of fun.

Dan S

I’m still disappointed they canceled ffxi mobile, although I imagine it would have probably been an auto everything suckfest, so perhaps twas for the best


For me, Crowfall, New World and Corepunk are must plays. How long they will keep me interested is another question.

The only MMO I really think is going to deliver is Ashes of Creation, which is probably a 2023 release. I just love the dev team and everything about the game.

I’m a very very early backer of Pantheon but I’m worried about the pace of development. Hoping the team can make it but things just feel fragile at the moment.

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What is this optimism nonsense? I read about MMOs for cynicism and bleakness!


Unless Camelot Unchained releases this year, theres nothing on the horizon that suits my tastes. But, not unusual, been that way for years.

However, I am looking forwards to the release of New World. Not because I have any interest in playing it, the alpha I was in was awful, but I’m genuinely curious about how well it’ll perform. NW has taken some big steps away from the traditional MMORPG design so I really want to know how the general public gets on with it.

I’m also curious about E:D’s Odyssey expansion. Whilst its not an MMO, I do play E:D relatively frequently and the xpac could be fun.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

I’m excited for the GW2 expansion and the ESO stuff. So for me, it’s looking like a good year.

For new games, I’m excited about Book of Travels and Wagadu, but I’m not necessarily banking on either them in 2021. (Of the two, Book of Travels looks closer to completion.)

James Velasquez

Okay, but what about “new” games.

Like actual games not expansions….

Sarah Cushaway

Is it though? A bunch of mediocre old MMOs get an expansion and we have what…New World coming out, which already looks completely “meh” since Amazon had no idea how to build an MMO or what to do with it. Crowfall is now a glorified arena e-sport (not that I ever gave a shit about that title anyway) and Crimson Desert is a single player game with a hub tacked on.

So yeah. No.


I’m still hoping the revival of classic MMOs will see more brought from the dead. Warhammer Online and Tabula Rasa spring to mind. Maybe a DaoC classic server?

Holden Nagata

does Tabula Rasa have a private server? would love to see it again. I really enjoy Return of Reckoning