OK folks, it’s that time of the year again: the time when we cast our eyes ahead and try to pinpoint what’s going to happen to the genre in 2022, ideally competently enough that we’re not embarrassed at the end of it.
Just kidding, the embarrassment is part of the fun! Nobody can see the future, but it sure is fun guessing. Join our roundtable for our MMO predictions for 2022…
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I think Gamigo will continue to make many of us miss the glory days of Trion even more so than we currently do. Final Fantasy XIV will do better as World of Warcraft continues to do worse. Crowfall finally launched, but I have a feeling at least most of the year will be a struggle not only to retain users but bring in features that cater both to the current audience and people who ignored it during its development.
I’m going to be somewhat optimistic and say that before 2022, something big will happen at Activision-Blizzard. Either Kotick will leave, or a large group of devs will go off once again, though maybe to a former Blizz head’s studio (Kaplan, where are you?). That being said, I think Riot Games may actually end up turning into the next Blizzard, especially with how well Arcane has done on Netflix and what Ruined King has done to help attract people to the IP without making them endure the MOBA community.
Chronicles of Elyria will “continue development,” but with so much damage done and so little to show, it won’t be winning back the fans it horribly burned in 2020. Unless they somehow are able to gain some devs who can do more than follow online tutorials to make something better than what a 2-D game dev made during their first attempt at a 3-D game (reminder to the “team” to stop talking big and just do the work).
Speaking of disappointments, I’m going to say that Star Citizen will not be released this year. Prove me wrong, Roberts, please! Please?
VR may see more games built, but on smaller scales than we’ll probably cover. Same goes for most location-based AR games that aren’t Niantic. On that front, I think the team will release Transformers, announce another partnership game (most likely with Nintendo), and either shutter or announce to shutter Pikmin Bloom, though maybe it’ll last until 2023. I mean, they’re doing Community Day the same day as Pokemon GO’s better catch-up, weekend-long Community Day. As for POGO itself, I’m still leaning on it to do a crossover with Pokemon Legends: Arceus, continually drip release the gaps in the Pokedex across the 8 generations in-game right now, and tease more AR functions that long-term uses will almost immediately discard after the novelty of them wears off in minutes/hours. In fact, I’ll predict that we won’t get Kecleon until Niantic adds a new AR feature to the game.
Andy McAdams: WoW will continue its long decline as leadership continues to affirm that the “lol Raid for GTFO” crowd are the only people who matter in the playerbase. The Player Council, composed primarily of people least likely to say anything critical and cutting edge raiders, will inevitably produce some outcome so profoundly stupid that the entirety of the MMOsphere will stare in disbelief while Ion and friends look perturbed and ask themselves “who could have possibly predicted that this profoundly stupid thing we did would have negative consequences?” Meanwhile the game will continue its forward momentum primarily on its own cultural inertia instead of any actual value it brings to the community. The WoW expansion will announce some new existential threat that attempts to top the “we beat death” story with predictably eye-rolly results. Blizzard announces a super-aggressive release timeline for the new expansion that it has no intention or ability to hit, just to get the small bump in MAUs that expansion announcements bring.
Activision’s woes will continue with the board forms up ranks to protect Bobby Kotick and the stock continues to decline. The industry will shy away from associating with Activision titles, not to the point of not carrying them on their digital stores, but shaming enough to further impact the stock. Eventually the legal groups will stop their infighting and pissing contests to actually make inroads to actually bring some charges. Kotick and a substantial portion of the board are replaced.
FFXIV continues its meteoric success as it is finally able to deal with server congestion and becomes a dependable/reliable game and the industry’s go-to game.
Elder Scrolls Online continues to chug along, announcing a new class with this year’s story and a much needed break from the “ZOMG SAVE TAMRIEL!!!!!#<<!!” epic story lines. While not particularly revolutionary, ESO continues to be a dependable enjoyable game and sees continued success throughout 2022.
Guild Wars 2’s expansion launches to mixed results; everyone will love Cantha and the new specs, but it will be missing the marquee feature for the expansion. Everyone will agree that the implementation of fishing is new, fresh and a whole heap of fun — but not enough for a marquee feature for an expansion. ANet will hint at something else big in the works, and either bury the lede or accidentally scoop itself.
All Funcom titles continue to get Funcom’d.
Elite Dangerous does something to make up for a lackluster launch of Odyssey and earn back the good-will of the spaceship community.
Star Citizen skews heavily into NFT ships, while still having nothing to show in terms of a release date or even anything beyond an alpha version of the game that all but the most invested (mentally and financially) have long since written off and moved on from.
New World continues to make rookie mistakes as if this is all mind-boggling brand-new instead of just needing to pay attention to the industry at large. It continues to see middling success while it tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up.
Crowfall gets a maintenance mode announcement in Q1, and Artcraft announces a new MMO in Q2, earning community ire.
Camelot Unchained continues to languish in development purgatory and pushes launch to 2023.
A completely unexpected MMO burst onto the scene and gets everyone excited, but it doesn’t plan to launch until 2027.
We get a couple more Eastern temports that a small subset of the community will declare to be the Second Coming and destroy whatever-the-game-du-jour is. They launch with predictable gameplay of “grind until you lie broken and sobbing under your desk,” and then quietly chug along without much fanfare.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): So 2022 is Guild Wars 2’s year to lose. End of Dragons will be a major success for the franchise, and we’ll find out that fishing wasn’t really the tentpole feature people thought it was going to be as there’s something way bigger. ArenaNet just needs to stick the landing and then keep pushing forward through the rest of the year. I think it’ll pull it off.
I do not expect World of Warcraft to be so lucky. What should’ve been a major expansion year for the game will see it merely attempt to stanch the bleeding with slightly more accessible but still wrong-headed patches to a flopped Shadowlands. It will get a boost from WOTLK in Classic, and it might get a boost from a belatedly announced expansion too – let’s peg that announcement for PAX East and the launch for 2023. Let’s also get wild and predict that Ion Hazzikostas will quit the team and be replaced by somebody you’ve never heard of. Bobby Kotick, however, will not take the hint and retire to a private island, in spite of mounting unionization efforts. I tried to predict WoW Console last year and whiffed, but I’ll predict it again for 2022.
New World will announce a paid expansion, console port, and optional subscription. It’ll actually bring back a ton of players and worm its way into a steady spot in the top five MMOs, pushing Black Desert out. Lost Ark will have a much better launch than most folks think, but it won’t be half as big as New World was.
Elder Scrolls Online has already said it’s going to shake things up next year and attempted to lower our expectations. It’ll still run its three-DLC/one-chapter cadence, but the DLC will be on the smaller end and focus on expanding guild plots, while the chapter will home in on High Rock for a small Daggerfall jaunt.
I don’t expect much out of the Kickstarter MMOs this year. I don’t expect bold movement from Ashes, Pantheon, or Camelot Unchained. I don’t expect Crowfall to make it to summer. Elite Dangerous will move into de facto maintenance mode. Obviously, Star Citizen won’t launch.
We won’t hear anything new about Daybreak’s in-development Marvel or EverQuest MMOs, but we will finally get more clues about LOTRO’s console launch. Crimson Desert will continue to be delayed. We won’t hear squat about ArcheAge 2, either. Gamigo’s Fractured will not make 2022. Palia and Nightingale will both hit early access and not be quite what people think but endearing anyway. Albion Online will release on console and continue growing.
One of the big five MMOs will try to pivot to crypto, be dunked on by the playerbase, and give up.
Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): We’ll probably start seeing very small bits of news on the new Runeterra MMO. I doubt it will be anything solid, but Riot will probably continue to add more lore bits through Legends of Runeterra and the other Riot Forge games slated for a 2022 release.
FFXIV will continue its patch cycle, but all eyes will most certainly be on the first major update since it’ll be the first one in the entire history of the game that will have a “new” storyline. I’ll probably end up disappointed because it’ll probably just start another 10-year storyline.
Guild Wars 2 will have a strong year because of End of Dragons. By the end of the year, we might be looking at the possibility of a Guild Wars 3.
Elyon will find its niche audience and chug along happily.
With the Overwatch League using an early build of Overwatch 2, the Overwatch community might actually have access to it too. Folks are concerned that the quality of the pro matches won’t be as good if the competitors can’t practice through solo queue. I predict we will see some iteration of Overwatch 2 this year. That or they end OWL.
Black Desert Online will continue to improve on its formula; it’ll get easier to work with the enchant system to bring in more newbies and give a chance for the average player to get up to snuff in content.
We’ll be able to get a playable WildStar emu build and a community will grow from it! Maybe this’ll be the year I reunite with my long lost character, Gyozalynn.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): World of Warcraft announces its next expansion in February, with a whole lot of “break glass in case of emergency” promises like Alliance and Horde being able to group up and some major status quo shifts. Despite this, player reaction is still decidedly mixed as the game’s developers have not bought the goodwill necessary for anyone to feel confident that it’s going to actually work at this point. There are rumblings about Hazzikostas being out, and he doesn’t show his face for an awfully long period of time. The expansion is also delayed until 2023, meaning that concerns about a lack of content are still foremost on everyone’s mind.
Final Fantasy XIV weathers its server issues and Endwalker settles into a reliable cadence, with major patches happening at the usual pace with respect to the various delays that the game has endured. Island Sanctuaries are not housing as people hope, and the actual housing launch still prompts consternation. The game finally adds more servers and people are happy about it, though by that point the worst of the congestion has passed.
The Elder Scrolls Online has had a couple of years in which its expansions have failed to fully connect with fans, but in 2022 they nail it and people are generally quite happy about the major updates again. It’s been a while coming, but the new additions really grab everyone’s attention and remind everyone why this game is as good as it can be. It does not, however, draw from a previous title in the franchise.
Guild Wars 2 launches End of Dragons and it’s… well… a mixed bag. On the one hand, the actual new maps are praised as being some of ArenaNet’s strongest work, and people love the new elite specs. On the other hand, server stability isn’t great, and the actual story is widely panned as not really working and showing how much turmoil there’s been behind the scenes over the years. That being said, it’s still a net positive for the game, and once some bugs and kinks are worked out, people are overall happy with the expansion even if a lot of people still aren’t really happy about making fishing a central feature.
Black Desert screws up in 2022 in a notable, visible way. Not in a game-destroying way, just in a way that it makes a change people aren’t happy with that lands with a wet thud. Oh no. Crimson Desert remains vague until near the end of the year.
Lost Ark launches and it turns out not many people care once they can get into it, though it doesn’t flop so badly that it’s at risk of shutting down. Still, it doesn’t have nearly the appeal that Amazon had been hoping for in a larger market share. This is probably a bad thing as New World continues to struggle to get itself under control, and while it eventually manages to stop having horrible game-destroying bugs every single week, by the end of the year the game definitely appears to be on life support. At least one project that is supposedly in the works gets pushed out into the limelight early, and Amazon seems to generally be in damage control mode with its game division.
Star Citizen continues to delay and push back timelines for everything. It still brings in money, but less and more slowly. At least one thing is directly scaled back, a sign of trouble within the game.
The NFT scam (it’s a scam, folks) starts to lose steam in 2022, thankfully, as even more high-profile people turn to it as a clear and obvious scam. Because it’s a scam and it’s horrible.
At least one Kickstarted project fizzles out horribly in 2022.
Crowfall shutters by mid-year, despite ArtCraft insisting that things are all right for a while longer. The studio’s next project is revealed, and… it’s actually more of a conventional PvE experience that’s clearly repurposing assets and systems from Crowfall. (I’d like this one to be wrong.)
Blue Protocol finally gets some updates. They look all right. People who don’t care continue not to care.
Star Wars: The Old Republic launches its expansion to critical acclaim and a fair bit of buzz. It does all right for itself, despite everything.
At least one otherwise healthy-seeming game sunsets during the year. Not one of our big healthy titles, but something that’s comfortably in the mid-tier.
Someone announces another “Transformers Online” game of some kind. I get stupidly excited even though I know how this goes every single time.
I will actually get a good night’s sleep.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): To prepare myself for this year’s prediction run, I glanced back through my thoughts years past. For 2015, I wrote, “Landmark launches after a lengthy open beta, and then EverQuest Next launches soon after.” Oops. Though officially a hit and a miss, this opening of old wounds might have broken my spirit for predicting. Then again, my 2016 prediction of “Lots of games. MMOs and ARPGs and WTHs will be spawning like invading alien pod critters taking over the planet” made me chuckle. I never did get to play a WTH though…
OK, I can do this. What’s the worst that can happen? I’m right? Perish that thought! Here are my 2022 predictions (or curses, you can decide)
1. Survival games will continue, with some new ones joining the ranks. Most will be small. I will stumble into an obscure one and adore it! Funcom’s DUNE will come out in Early Access or some form of closed beta for folks to give it a spin (literally, with vehicles). ARK 2 might even show up by the end of the year; a launch will at least be announced, but we know how WildCard is with ARK launches. Conan Exiles will still receive attention with new content, from DLCs to a new/expanded map.
2. As much as Funcom is focusing on its DUNE and Conan the Barbarian, nothing will happen for Secret World Legends — again. At least it won’t disappear. If we are super duper lucky there will be a small spooky spin-off title for Halloween, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Moons of Madness 2 would be cool.
3. Conan ChopChop finally appears. (It must! I need this cuteness!)
4. Star Citizen does not launch.
5. Amid other sunsets, another sad and unexpected sunset happens that throws people off.
6. GW2’s expansion won’t create as much buzz as Path of Fire but will do reasonably well. Everyone will be loving on the siege turtles.
7. The best bet for ESO’s year-long campaign is a focus on orcs. If they don’t choose orcs, they are missing out. Second choice is elves, but elves are already overdone so much, so let’s continue the less human of the humanoids! (Friend says Redguard — let’s see who’s right!) The new campaign will introduce at least one more companion, and it would be ideally be an orc!
8. Hi-Rez continues to improve as a company, lifting its image more. Another unmentionable company will continue to spiral down regardless of the money it makes.
9. A new MOBA? Seriously? Seriously.
10. Many more good things will happen thanks to the kindness and generosity of our gaming community at large, and we’ll share it on Massively Uplifting! The gaming is evil narrative is quieted down a bit as even more comes to light about the positives.
11. Mo wears a tutu.
12. The collaborative special Stream Team project will go live. No, they won’t be wearing tutus.
13. AQ3D continues with weekly content releases and plenty of new moglins to adore, but also develops a bigger unique feature again. Perhaps Battle Concerts will also make a comeback!
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): 2021 had a good number of releases, a good number of delays, and a whole lot of controversy. We already have a bunch of expansions and updates slated up for February (the best of months); however, I suspect half of them get delayed.
Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons is going to come out strong. I don’t suspect we see a huge uptick in new players, but I think it’ll bring a lot of old players back into the fold for the better part of the year. Hopefully sometime in the middle of the year the devs announce some kind of Living World update that’ll pair with it and keep players interested.
New World is like a toddler right now. It’s beginning to learn right and wrong and that when we yell at it for trying to stick its finger in the electric outlet, it is only out of fear and love for its well-being. It’ll make many more mistakes, but I am hoping Amazon is able to right the ship well. It really needs to work on encouraging players to level and PvP. I hope it leaves the gear levels where they are at and doesn’t try to increase it again, but I think it will. Whether it’s some weird re-work or a whole new tier, it’ll mess up gear for sure.
Blizzard is going to have a huge upheaval. Eventually the other shoe will fall this year, and it’ll start to do right by its workers and players. It’ll be a small move in the right direction, but I think it’ll make it correctly.
I think Overwatch 2 is going to wholly canceled, as far as being a new game, and instead it will just be an expansion or update kind of change to Overwatch.
Elder Scrolls Online will finally add PC play to its Game Pass availability, and I’ll finally join and give the game a chance. I just can’t rationalize paying for it separately when it’s available for the Xbox with Game Pass already.
Camelot Unchained will finally drop the NDA! This is the year. I feel it.
Lastly, crypto shenanigans are only just beginning in the industry. We keep seeing drips of games including elements of it, but I think one of those crypto-first type of games is going to get a ton of attention to the point we’ll have to admit it’s here to stay along side our lockboxes.
Tyler Edwards (blog): New World will continue to struggle for about another six months, and then things will start to stabilize. It won’t regain the numbers it had at launch, but it will keep enough people to stay afloat. Major features launched for it in 2022 will include two new zones, multiple new weapons, the group finder, and mounts. Mounts will require some effort to unlock and upgrade and not be something everyone can just get immediately, and this will cause controversy.
Lost Ark, End of Dragons, and Legacy of the Sith will all launch on or only shortly after their currently planned February launch dates. All will be received reasonably well, but none will be blockbuster hits.
Elyon will fade into obscurity, and I would not be surprised to see a sunset announced before the year is through.
The suggested revamps and console version for Lord of the Rings Online will be canceled before they see the light of day.
To my own great dismay, neither Wolcen nor Iron Harvest will resolve the cliff-hangers their stories ended on.
Star Trek Online will see some tie-in content related to Star Trek: Prodigy, but will continue to be weirdly lacking in significant Picard tie-ins.
ESO’s next chapter will feature a new weapon type, most likely the oft-rumored one-hand melee + offhand magic skill line.
Crypto-currencies and NFTs continue to be the buzzwords du jour, but by the end of the year the fad has started to fizzle out a bit.
Corepunk will not fully launch, but we may see some form of open beta or early access. The devs will finally acquiesce and offer PvE servers, but reception of the game will still be mixed.
Palia will continue to build strong buzz, but not open to the public in any form.
World of Warcraft will announce its next expansion some time in the first six months of the year. It will shake up the game formula a bit — most likely by allowing Alliance and Horde players to play together in at least some content — but it won’t go as far as many people want, and it will be viewed by most as too little, too late. I think a business model change is also possible, but I won’t say it’s a certainty.
We’ll see more of Overwatch 2, and it will look pretty promising, but the long delays and general negativity around Blizzard will smother the hype around what would otherwise be an exciting game.
Bobby Kotick will not be the CEO of Activision-Blizzard by the end of 2022. However, he will maintain a position within the company and/or be given the most golden of parachutes. It won’t feel like the justice we all want.