Massively OP’s 2021 Awards: MMO Story of the Year


Welcome back to Massively Overpowered’s formal end-of-the-year awards!

Today’s award is for the MMO Story of 2021, which was awarded jointly to Daybreak’s sale and COVID’s impact on gaming last year. This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it’s not meant for a single article; it’s an acknowledgement of an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre during the year, something different from a surprise or trend. 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 MMO Story of the Year in 2021 is…


Andrew Ross: Activision-Blizzard’s scandal.

Andy McAdams: The Blizzard dumpster fire. Who knew that Blizzard would fall so far, so fast? Leaders there earned everything that has happened to them. I think we’ve said it for years, but “WoW will be the WoW-killer” took on new meaning this year.

Ben Griggs: Amazon releasing New World. The jokes can now subside. Amazon Games has released a title, and it was wildly successful for about three weeks! I was concerned about the long-term viability of this game when I saw how the economy worked, but New World does some good things, and given enough time and investment, it may eventually become something really good. I don’t personally think it’s the game of the year, but I do think it’s release deserves consideration for the biggest MMO moment of the year.

Brianna Royce: The Activision-Blizzard scandal isn’t just the gaming story of the year; it’s the gaming story of the decade, and it happens to center on MMORPGs thanks to World of Warcraft. Truthfully, there’s more than one scandal in play here, but the sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit and push to oust Bobby K comes out on top. You guys now how much I hate giving one story two awards, which we’ve done here, and I especially hate it when the biggest story of the year is about a dumpster fire, but I can’t argue with the reality here. This story has been raging at its current temperature since July, and I don’t see it going away.

Carlo Lacsina: There’s so much to say about what’s happened with Blizzard. For me the divisive nature of the situation that’s making it particularly difficult for me to parse. It saddens me as a fan because I still love Blizzard games and still enjoy buying merch and am an avid Overwatch player. The fan in me still plays the games because even though the bad apples ruined the reputation, I still feel there are people there that work there because they enjoy the work they do. On the other hand, the journalist in me who wants to hold the studio accountable and remain objective can’t ignore what’s been going on. But that’s just me, and this story means differently for many different folks. Hopefully the other studios see this as a cautionary tale because nobody’s going to win if the company culture gets this toxic.

Chris Neal: The depths of the Blizzard clownshow story as it seems to continue to unfurl is mind-boggling. And I’m not even emotionally linked to anything Blizzard has done; I can’t imagine how big fans of the studio must feel.

Colin Henry: New World’s launch. I know that Blizzard’s clownshow was huge, and I don’t want to downplay how disappointing that has been, but for me, I think the biggest MMO story of the year was New World’s launch. It has been so long since we’ve had a big, public win like this that has gotten a lot of people to realize that MMOs are still a force to be reckoned with, even topping Steam’s most played charts. It’s sad that it has been plagued with so many issues because once it finds its footing, I think New World could remind a lot of people of how much fun a good AAA MMORPG really can be.

Eliot Lefebvre: Blizzard is a gigantic cesspit of sexual harassment that should be thrown into the ocean if it wouldn’t qualify as pollution.

Justin Olivetti: Blizzard’s scandal just wrecked the studio, the dev teams, and the playerbase — and continues to do so. It was a terrible story of coverups, discrimination, and abuses of power that may taint World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and other properties for years to come. It also was the pits, and I hated every time we had to report on it (even though we had to report on it).

Mia DeSanzo: Blizzard.

Sam Kash: Blizzard’s implosion.

Tyler Edwards: Blizzard’s implosion. As I’m a long-time fan, everything about this just breaks my heart, to the point where I have trouble even putting together intelligent thoughts on the matter. Why do people gotta be so shitty, man.

Blizzard’s scandals took our award for MMO Story of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest story in the MMO world in 2021?

  • Activision-Blizzard's implosion and scandals and lawsuits (62%, 328 Votes)
  • New World's colossal launch (11%, 60 Votes)
  • Amazon canceling its LOTR MMO (5%, 27 Votes)
  • Daybreak working on a Marvel MMO (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Cryptic and PWE getting sold to Gearbox (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Gaming companies going crypto (2%, 9 Votes)
  • The Epic/Apple lawsuit result (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Riot's and Ubisoft's sexism lawsuits (3%, 14 Votes)
  • The hilarious Dreamworld fiasco (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Star Citizen paying its investors dividends (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Gamestonk (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Gamigo's gamepocalypse (1%, 3 Votes)
  • EG7 ousting its CEO (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Crowfall kinda bombing and getting sold (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Magic Legends being canceled (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Gamigo losing ArcheAge to Kakao (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Anthem being maintenance moded (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Fallen Earth is back, baby (1%, 5 Votes)
  • The Pokemon Go boycott (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Riot working on a new MMO (3%, 15 Votes)
  • The cancelation of FFXIR mobile (0%, 0 Votes)
  • End of Dragons delayed (0%, 1 Votes)
  • WoW Classic Burning Crusade happened (0%, 2 Votes)
  • The Wargaming creator exodus (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 411

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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 games nominated plus other games we thought should and would be in the running. We did not include major MMORPGs that frequently win major awards unless directly nominated by staff.
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