For our first official Massively Overthinking of 2022, we’re following tradition: We’re talking all about our hopes and fears for the genre in the new year. We like to run this roundtable as a counter to the predictions piece, which often includes stuff we think will happen, whether we like it or not. This discussion, however, homes in on what we’d actually like to happen to the MMO industry, if we had our way, as well as what we’re most worried about in 2022. Let’s get to it!
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I’ll let the others talk about what’s surrounding Blizzard/Activision, but I agree with nearly everything they’ve mentioned in terms of both hopes and fears.
One hope is that Crowfall lands on its feet. I was burned by Kickstarter long ago for MMOs. One of my all-time favorite single-player games was a Kickstarter, but multiple games, especially MMOs, have just burned me to the point where I don’t even consider dropping pre-beta money on them, if they even get to that point. Crowfall had some promise, but it felt like ArtCraft was learning too much too late.
NFTs need to stay the heck out of all gaming. It’s still frustrating that they’re a thing at all in this day and age, but clearly the old adage of “there’s a sucker born every minute” rings true.
I’m also worried about the state of trading in MMOs. I’ve had three people come back to Pokemon GO this year, and trading was a big factor in helping them both catch-up and socialize. It also worked as a motivation to meet and talk with players throughout the year. Trading really feels like one of the backbones of the genre, and seeing more companies put major restrictions on them is concerning, even if it’s to tackle a bug/exploit.
In a similar vein, I’m hoping to see more co-op and less intrusive features in MMOARGs, especially from a certain company. I’ve been digging into a certain transforming robots game and it sounds like it may be at least a bit safer than past entries, but I’ll hold off judgment until I get it into my own hands.
I’m also hoping Nintendo and The Pokemon Company sees how popular online multiplayer is, especially with COVID being a thing. Animal Crossing in particular has been a fun experience while getting content, New Pokemon Snap benefitted from online photo sharing, and we had not one but two Mario Party games with online this year. Multiplayer is certainly a different beast, but some titles could be bigger, like Animal Crossing and Pokemon. The new Legends Pokemon game is sounding fairly single player, but I’m hoping there’ll be an expansion or something that makes it more multiplayer, as I know several non-MMO fans who keep talking about how much they loved the open spaces and shared raids of Sword and Shield and are hoping for a similar experience in future Pokemon titles.
Finally, I’m really hoping we get more good launches. Not just, “This MMO was in development forever, yay it’s come out!” but games that launch and feel complete. Being able to update your game shouldn’t be an excuse for a poor launch. FFXIV is certainly a huge success story at this point, but including the original 2010 launch, that’s a wait. Maybe certain games need to focus more on the core experience and getting that out first, especially with the wait times fans/Kickstarter backers have endured thus far. Tighten that core part up and give us a few solid launches, devs!
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I hope Kotick exits. I doubt his replacement will be better, but Activision-Blizzard can’t heal and will only continue to be a festering wound until he’s gone. And believe it or not, I’d like to see Blizzard recover and make real amends to its workers and players. It’d be great to feel good about World of Warcraft again instead of aghast at how far it’s fallen.
I’d like Amazon to look at 2022 as a recovery year and try to pull New World out of its slump. It needs a FFXIV– or ESO-quality rescue. Let’s gooooooo.
I hope Elder Scrolls Online and especially Guild Wars 2 kick some major ass this year.
I’d like the industry to finally unionize because look at you. You need it. And only you can do it. We can’t do it for you. You can’t kick this one back at gamers or journalists. You gotta do it yourselves.
I hope people stop sending me NFT grifting crap in my email before I lose my mind. Stop trying to scam the MMO genre, you absolute assclowns.
I hope NCsoft finally gets its shit together and closes the deal with the City of Heroes folks because I’m tired of having to tiptoe around it.
My fears are pretty much the opposite of those things. I fear Blizzard won’t ever recover; I fear Amazon will keep trundling along incompetently, and so forth.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): With everything going on in the industry in terms of its horrible treatment of devs, I fervently hope that some manner of unionization actually happens. Clearly, nobody at the top gives a shit, so it’s up to the grass roots to do it.
I also am hoping against hope that something gets done at ActiBlizz. WoW is not my game and I hold almost no emotional link to it or any Blizzard game, but it would also be awful that such a beloved MMORPG would be broken beyond repair because some assholes at the upper levels of ownership are against genuine culture shifts.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): My greatest hope for this year is that, by and large, the big developments and surprises will be more positive than negative. I’m tired of corporations treating their workers like chattel, I don’t want to hear another NFT story, and I certainly don’t want to get wind that another MMO is shutting down.
Instead, I want to see established MMOs take strong steps toward further maturity. I hope to see studios sorting out their business and being above-board. I want exciting announcements such as new games and launch dates. I’d love to see shaky MMOs find their footing and grow, and older MMOs take action to become more relevant again. And I hope that WildStar comes back, because c’mon.
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I really hope that New World is able to reevaluate their leveling curve and come to better understand what their players want. As Tyler wrote this week, there is currently a totally unnecessary wall around level 30. Hopefully it’s a temporary restriction the devs put in place thinking that it would keep players busy until there was a more fleshed out end game and not how they envision it should be long term.
I hope Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons plays and feels like a full expansion that encourages players to return. The feature list for it was so boring. So I hope what ArenaNet put together is robust.
I hope Crowfall doesn’t completely shutter. I’ve been covering the game for a couple years and the recent sale has me nervous. I hope the team at Monumental takes good care of it.
Lastly, despite never playing WoW and hardly playing any Blizzard games, I really hope they right the ship and clean up the toxicity that is apparently prevalent throughout the company. People tend to repeat the old saying that it was only, “a few bad apples” but forget the whole expression that “a few bad apples spoil the bunch.”