We’ve been offering up an MMO predictions list for Massively Overthinking for years upon years now as our writers and readers prognosticate on the future (and also take some wild swings on the off-chance that we knock something unlikely out of the park). But of course, predictions are useful only when you bring them out again a year later to see how you scored – and that’s exactly what we’re doing today. Let’s scroll through our 2022 predictions for 2023 – and see how we did. (My commentary will be in the notes at the end of each entry!)
World of Warcraft
Andy: Blizzard continues with its not-great, not-terrible improvements of WoW, and Dragonflight becomes to the first WoW expansion in half a decade to achieve levels of the “Okayiest Expansion.” This is fair.
Bree: World of Warcraft will announce a console launch for the end of 2023. Still no, but we got some hints. I’m trying again next year.
Bree: World of Warcraft will also announce Cataclysm for WoW Classic coming by Thanksgiving, but WoW will continue to lose subscribers over the course of the year anyway. WoW lost plenty this year, unfortunately. We are getting Cata, but my timeline was off.
Carlo: I think WoW will do great for those that enjoy it. I sure hope so?
Eliot: World of Warcraft follows up its routine of “we’re changing, really” throughout 2022 by… actually changing in 2023, in incremental but noteworthy ways. Cross-faction guilds are opened up during the year, for example, and cross-factional chat becomes a normal thing outside of War Mode. Players gain access to some useful deterministic gear options in patch 9.1, and the Trading Post is pretty well-received as a good way to encourage people to play more. While people still don’t trust Blizzard through the year and there’s grumblings and continued insistence that the game needs more, it really does feel like WoW is being run better than it has been in a long while. Spot on.
Sam: This year we will finally hear that the full follow-up to WoW is in development. Will it be a sequel or just some kind of new game that gives you some legacy loot like GW2 did from the OG GW? My money’s on the latter. Not yet.
Tyler: As with the previous two expansions, WoW Dragonflight will enjoy a few months of honeymoon before public opinion turns against it, though people may not sour on it as hard as they did Shadowlands. Fair.
Overwatch, Diablo, and the rest of Blizzard
Andrew: Overwatch 2 will finally get its full PvE mode towards the middle or end of the year. Part of me thinks it’ll still be too late, but smaller companies have made comebacks. RIP.
Andy: Overwatch 2 continues to find every rake in existence to step on while remaining completely oblivious to its self-inflicted wounds. As I compile this in November 2023, even the OWL is in shambles, so I’d say yep.
Andy: Diablo Immortal loses steam as the fickle Chinese market moves on to new things, while DIV launches with a series of groan-worthy design choices that my great-aunt Ethel could have called out as bad ideas (but everyone plays it anyway because Diablo). DI definitely lost steam, though I suspect it’s largely because Blizzard abandoned it and left NetEase to promote it.
Andy: The MSFT-ATVI acquisition will get stalled in court, and while it won’t completely disintegrate, it will be 2024 before it closes. Was definitely stalled, but it’s done now.
Ben: Blizzard, noting the nostalgia for legacy versions of its products, will begin shipping overstocked DVDs of the original Overwatch, branding it Overwatch Classic. I know this was a joke, but it’s not a terrible idea.
Bree: Diablo IV will be a major mess at launch. Yepperdo.
Bree: Diablo Immortal will hit maintenance mode. Not technically, yet, but its updates are few and thin.
Carlo: Overwatch 2 will get its PvE mode, and folks that like it will stay, and everyone else will find flaws for it. Oh no. No no no.
Carlo: The Diablo series will gain traction with Diablo IV. Be ready for login issues! If traction means trading franchise rep for a staggering mountain of money, then definitely.
Chris: The Microsoft deal will go through, and things will probably not change after maybe a month or two after the fact. If then.
Eliot: Blizzard keeps kicking the Overwatch 2 PvE can down the road throughout the year while trying to intimate that it would happen sooner if people would just play the existing game. I’d give even odds that project is quietly scrapped and Overwatch continues its freefall. The studio as a whole remains mired in a negative light. Eliot nailed it. They didn’t kick the can so much as flatten it into a disc.
Tyler: Overwatch 2 will launch its PvE content, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it delayed further and/or scaled down compared to what was originally announced. Its reception is mostly positive, though it draws some criticism for being a Left 4 Dead clone or otherwise unoriginal. Between that, long delays, and general Blizzard malaise, it fails to make a huge splash in the genre. It does earn enough fans to justify continued development, however. RIP PvE, but he was right about the splash. Or rather, it made a big splash but then pretty much went back to the same ol’ playerbase it had before.
NCsoft, Guild Wars 2, and Throne & Liberty
Andy: Guild Wars 2 continues to grow and be successful, but not really innovating or changing its formula – proving yet again that managing to not faceplant is a mark of excellence in the MMO space. Definitely a big formula change this year.
Bree: ArenaNet will announce Guild Wars 2’s next expansion, but we won’t actually see it until the end of 2024. The next living story season will be epic. Can’t give myself a point here; we got it in August.
Bree: NCsoft will announce its collab with Amazon to launch Throne and Liberty in the west. Duh, self.
Carlo: Guild Wars 3!? No.
Colin: Guild Wars 2 will have another good year next year. Not as good as this year, but better than the year before. Yep and yep. Hard to top End of Dragons, but they came even with it in 2023, which is kind of a shock.
Colin: The Living World will finally continue the story of End of Dragons, filling out the map of Cantha with Southern Echovald and the Eastern Jade Sea. The macguffin will be Taimi and Joon searching for a new power source to replace dragonjade, but their search attracts the attention of a new baddie from the Mists or something. This season will come with some new strike missions, a new one about once a quarter. We won’t get much info on the next expansion, though, apart from some teases toward the end of the year. I’m kinda sad this isn’t so.
Colin: There will also be no mention of a new game from ArenaNet. We do know they’re working on stuff, though.
Eliot: Guild Wars 2 announces its next expansion toward the end of the year while cautioning players that it’s not going to be early in 2024, but it’s still looking good. The studio generally keeps its head down and plugs away at updates and improvements, although its ongoing content for End of Dragons feels a little weaker and gets called out as such. Some people argue that everyone’s standards are a little skewed after the Icebrood Saga. Same as for me, we got it in August, and it was good!
Sam: Guild Wars 2 will get a new Living World scenario that adds aliens and creatures from outer space. Do the kryptis count?
Tyler: Guild Wars 2 spends most of the year releasing a Living World season, which receives mixed reviews. We get an expansion announcement late in the year, with a release date in mid-2024. Man nobody saw the new cadence coming, did we?
Amazon, New World, and Lost Ark
Andy: New World continues its steady climb, flying mostly under the radar. Fair.
Ben: Amazon, noting the synergy with its Rings of Power series, will purchase and distribute Lord of the Rings Online. All future expansions will be set in the past, allowing players to session-play as a sword-wielding Galadriel and visit Elrond’s library when it was little more than a floating shelf containing a couple of Percy Jackson novels and a squishy dwarf stress reliever. Again a joke, but Amazon did in fact revive its LOTR MMO this year!
Ben: Lost Ark ends abruptly when, out of nowhere, a teenager from Athens, Georgia, finds the ark. Hah.
Bree: Lost Ark and New World will announce console launches for the end of 2023. Nope, but come on, make it happen.
Bree: New World will finally come up with a monetization plan that is sustainable; I’m banking on optional subscriptions built around seasons. Score for me!
Carlo: I think it’ll be a quiet year for Amazon as it continues to build on New World. Still building.
Carlo: Lost Ark will do fine. It does keep losing players, though.
Colin: New World will settle into a comfortable release cadence this year. It will never draw anything close to the numbers it had at launch, but it will hold closer to where it has been since the new player experience and fresh start servers. It definitely saw big numbers this year, but yep, not near to the launch influx.
Colin: Late in the year New World will get a revamp of the higher levels similar to the one for the lowbie experience we got this year. I’m also expecting a business model shift. We will definitely see “convenience items” like XP boosters in the cash shop, maybe a premium subscription that gets you a cash shop stipend and some quality-of-life features like slightly boosted XP, reduced fees, free fast travel, that kind of thing. Winner winner.
Eliot: Amazon has spent a year working hard on New World, but moving into 2023 it becomes clear that it’s just not enough… and the dam starts to break. Without a significant source of additional income it just wasn’t going to persist this way, and the game starts to find itself lower on the priority list and getting smaller updates, which in turn makes it harder to attract people to the game. That being said, with Amazon’s bankroll this sort of slow decline can take a while, so it’s hardly dying by the end of the year. I’m not sure that this one holds up, although I’d sure like to see New World getting even more development money.
Eliot: Lost Ark loses more people and steadily drops out of notice, although the players who are there remain loyal and there seems to be no real risk of the title shutting down. Unfortunately accurate.
Eliot: John Smedley’s project for Amazon is canned. Kinda: Smed left Amazon, but the game – supposedly – is still happening.
Sam: New World will continue to improve and even become a game that players who want to play its PvP without spending 100+hours will actually be able to. Sam’s hopes were dashed again.
Sam: Lost Ark will continue to do much better than I can even understand. This is relative, so maybe? It does better than I would’ve expected even as it lost heaps of players all year.
Tyler: New World follows a similar content release pattern to last year. Light at first, with a bigger patch in summer, and a huge update in fall — maybe a paid expansion, maybe just another big free patch. I heard a rumour aways back that the next zone is a forest area north of Mourningdale with an emphasis on Ancient lore, and I’m gonna say that rumour proves accurate. The next new weapon is the paladin-style flail and shield strength/focus weapon everyone’s been asking for, and I am delighted. We might also see daggers before the year’s end. Mounts and transmog will arrive, and I will repeat last year’s prediction that mounts will come with some sort of associated grind that proves mildly controversial. Overall, the game remains a comfortable mid-tier success. He even nailed mounts, transmog, and the flail. New World players should be following Tyler!
Tyler: Lost Ark will continue to chug along nicely and perhaps begin to be counted as one of the “big five,” replacing Black Desert. I agree BDO should be replaced, but not with Lost Ark, as with all the playerbase losses this year it’s not even coming close to the concurrency numbers games like Albion Online and RuneScape have.
Square-Enix and FFXIV
Carlo: Stormblood will become part of the FFXIV free trial. Deep dungeons. At least one news outlet is going to cover the brothels in Balmung. Wait wait. The brothels in Balmung??
Eliot: Final Fantasy XIV continues to Final Fantasy XIV. Players are happy with the game, and the next expansion is announced in July as part of the next fan festival. While it’s clearly a bit slower than in previous years, the game knows what it’s doing and keeps fans and industry onlookers impressed. Controversies come up every so often, but they’re generally minor. Chugging along with an expansion next year, yep.
Eliot: Square-Enix never does launch those NFTs it promised. No one is surprised. The corporate ghoul side of the company outside of Creative Business Unit III continues to corporate ghoul, just in case you were starting to think that the whole company was good or something. Indeed, Square has been a bit “meet the new boss” this year.
Elder Scrolls Online
Ben: Elder Scrolls Online finally breaks from its year-long content cadence but announces that future releases will bundle the story into two-year storylines because that will be twice as fun. Pete Hines shocks everybody in June when he announces that the new system to be released in Q4 is actually TES6, included as a minigame within ESO. Even Todd Howard’s head explodes. Poor Howard. But amusingly, ESO did change its cadence this year – just not quite like this!
Carlo: At least one member of the ESO staff will get into some form of trouble for trying to read one of The Elder Scrolls. Lol.
Colin: The Elder Scrolls Online cutback on story content [made me] go back and forth in my head a lot about whether this will mean the game is simply declining and its fans will be disappointed or it means it will finally make a big splash with something like a combat overhaul with a new weapon type or two that shakes up the stale meta. I’m choosing to be optimistic and predict the latter. I’m thinking spears and/or magic tomes. But I wouldn’t bet money either way. I’m not sure how much of a splash it made, but I’m not sure what it replaced made much of a splash either. ESO is so weird.
Eliot: The Elder Scrolls Online finally gets a year in which everyone is impressed with its expansions and it generally gets its buzz going. After years of the whole game feeling like it’s a functional thing no one is paying attention to, it gets over! This is a good thing. Of course, some of it getting over is coupled with people noticing parts of the game that have never worked very well, so, you know. Swings and roundabouts. Necrom probably did well, at least, given the theming and location. It was definitely more attractive than the last few years, but we don’t have stats. Get used to not having stats for more games thanks to Microsoft, sigh.
Sam: I’m going to actually play ESO enough to get to the PvP area. The new expansion is going to tie in to the new Elder Scrolls 6 main game. It will shock and amaze. Hold that thought, maybe?
Andy: Star Citizen continues to sell absurd amounts of things that don’t exist even in-game while the game continues to tout how hardcore is because of its absolutely asinine user experience. It will also continue to enjoy its army of stans willing to protect the poor defenseless multi-million dollar company from the great evil of commenters on the internet. Every dang year.
Andrew: I have zero expectations from Star Citizen. And yet you’re still disappointed, right?
Ben: Star Citizen will pioneer a new revenue stream: NFTs of NFTs. Players rejoice. The game makes another quintillion dollars. Doesn’t need NFTs when it’s got pixelships!
Carlo: Another $300 ship for Star Citizen, and it pulls a Fortnite and accidently becomes the metaverse we’ve been waiting for. CARLO FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, DO NOT GIVE CHRIS ROBERTS IDEAS.
Eliot: Star Citizen’s total money brought in continues going up, and the number of people still willing to carry water for the complete lack of meaningful progress continues going down. Squadron 42 does not so much as enter testing; on the off chance it does, it is beyond underwhelming even without the development time taken into account. $600M, and S42 has been a mess.
Andrew: I have zero expectations from Daybreak. No new games, but lots of expansions, as every year does!
Bree: Lord of the Rings Online will announce a Grey Havens expansion. Swing and a miss, but we got Corsairs of Umbar, which is way better.
Carlo: It’ll be a normal year for Daybreak. Yep.
Eliot: Daybreak continues its relentless streak of not actually getting any project it plans to anything approaching a launch state. Its games continue to receive updates, but it’s still hard in the “make more money from existing players rather than trying to onboard new people” mode. Fair.
Bree: Blue Protocol will be the sleeper hit of 2023. Instead, Blue Protocol slept on 2023.
Sam: Eastern MMOs are going to land in an even bigger way. Blue Protocol is really amazing and quickly becomes one of the top 5 games. Delays are annoying!
Eliot: Blue Protocol launches in the late summer/early fall in the US after slowly pulling in more eyes during its beta testing. A lot of people dismiss it as anime junk and/or a slightly higher-rent Tower of Fantasy, but people playing insist it really isn’t, and player creativity and a surprisingly well-spun story help elevate it over time. It’s a solid enough launch that keeps picking up steam and has the people who like it (including me) continually arguing that it’s one of those good games people are sleeping on. Nopes, delayed.
Tyler: Blue Protocol will see a launch delay, possibly into 2024. Bingo!
Ben: World of Warships will introduce six new ways players can spend money on the game without removing previous coin sinks. I will write a column about it. Warships players will defend Wargaming in the comments. Awwww.
Bree: Bluehole will relaunch TERA as a P2E monstrosity. Bluehole barely seems to remember TERA Console is still online.
Bree: ArcheAge 2 will delay into 2024. Sadly, yep.
Carlo: The untitled Runeterra MMO finally gets a name, we see some key art, and maybe even the most basic of the basic gameplay. None of the above, and it lost its lead developer too. Oof.
Carlo: I worry we won’t see much more of Swords of Legends Online, and it will sunset. Yep. Definitely a bad scene for SOLO.
Carlo: Black Desert will do fine. Pulled through thanks to its expansion.
Eliot: Black Desert continues to kind of hover. It’s not that updates have stopped, but the buzz seems to have slowed down, and the game itself doesn’t seem to inspire the fervent devotion it once did. Even its new classes kind of land with a thud. No disasters, but it increasingly feels like its place within the big five makes it more like the big four with Black Desert gamely trotting along behind, urging everyone to wait up. Yeah, I don’t think it has belonged in the big five for a while now.
Eliot: EVE Online does at least one catastrophically stupid thing and sinks more money into projects that aren’t going to go anywhere. It is not looking good after 2023. EVE Online itself is doing really well for itself, but CCP Games is another story.
Tyler: We’ll see some progress out of the Palia and Corepunk camps, but no launch dates. Corepunk is still mired in tiny test phases, and Palia stumbled into a messy open beta.
Tyler: RIFT will sunset. Fortunately not.
Andrew: Crowfall isn’t making a major comeback to even its “glory” days, if it really ever had them. Sure isn’t.
Andrew: I have zero expectations from Chronicles of Elyria. I at least expect continuing proclamations.
Bree: Dual Universe will pivot hard to the blockchain. Blessedly, it did not.
Bree: Fractured will never move on from early access. Well, it’s at least back in early access now, so that’s something.
Bree: Some famous name we haven’t heard from in a while will show up and try to Kickstart a new MMORPG. Kickstart, no, but several famous names did pop up with new games, including Jeff Butler, Greg Street, and Jack Emmert.
Carlo: Kickstarters are soooo 2015. Don’t know if we’ll get any worthwhile Kickstarter MMOs. Worthwhile is the key word. We did have a few successes, but nothing staggeringly huge.
Chris: Kickstarter will probably shrivel in the MMORPG space, while games that started off on the platform will maybe make some greater strides towards launch (except Star Citizen). Fair, has been shriveling for a while now.
Eliot: Crowfall does not return. Indeed.
Eliot: At least one Kickstarter MMO shutters this year. Most of the ones that do make the news do not do so in any fashion that they would like. We had a bunch of sunsets this year, but oddly, none for Kickstarter MMOs.
Eliot: Book of Travels does not have a bright future in 2023, and it honestly would not surprise me if we see it bid farewell. Still quietly marching toward launch.
Tyler: The TSW table-top RPG will miss its 2023 launch date. Yes.
Tyler: Shroud of the Avatar will sunset. Shockingly, nope.
Other online games
Andrew: Orna: The GPS RPG will continue to update its art, mechanics, and surprise us with player-inspired classes, specializations, weapons, and pets. Maybe even new GPS content will come out. Plus a whole new game!
Andrew: Splatoon 3 will try to balance between Big Run and traditional Splatfests, but I think the former will end up turning some players off since the PvE is very much a skill check, but we’ll also get TableTurfBattles (the card game) online, possibly without needing an expansion pack. Seems fair.
Andrew: Pokemon Scarlet and Violet will announce their own expansion that will bring in not only new paradox pokemon (which we know about) but more former pokemon. Yep.
Andrew: Niantic will sadly sunset Pikmin Bloom before the year ends. Peridot may launch and may not be canceled since it’s an in-house IP. A new Nintendo promotional game will pop up, and maybe Nintendo will be able to help make sure this one lands better than Pikmin did. Shockingly, both Pikmin Bloom and Peridot are still online for now.
Bree: Roblox will announce Roblox 2. (It has to be spending all that money on something.) Still nothing, but I’m gonna bring this one forward again.
Eliot: Something big happens with the City of Heroes rogue servers. Either really good or really bad. Not really much happened this year at all. They’ve been relatively quiet.
Industry and genre
Andy: In the wake of NFT and crypto collapse, the techbros will latch on ChatGPT as second coming of web 3.0 that will change the gaming industry by synergizing and reticulating those spines to build cross-functional collaboration native the web 3.0 evangelists. MassivelyOP email will be drowned under a tsunami of self-proclaimed gurus and “world-renowned” companies generously offering to provide us an interview about how smart they really are about the ChatGPT thing. This is exactly what’s happening. Thanks, I hate it.
Andy: Microsoft, Epic, and Roblox will lean into the metaverse space in big way, taking lessons learned from Facebook’s abject failure in the space. Not sure about the lessons, but otherwise yep.
Bree: All the games that tried to inject NFT garbage in 2022 will get their comeuppance next year as the genre continues to mock them mercilessly. Now this was wishful thinking, but a lot of them did flop.
Chris: Mobile gaming will continue to grow and sophisticate despite everyone’s haranguing and harumphing. Interestingly, this year has not been great for mobile gaming.
Chris: Our genre shall march on as online gaming and worlds continue to be the norm of “regular” games. You can decide for yourself whether he was right!
Eliot: At least one sunsetted title gets a surprising new rogue server that inspires a lot of talk from the MMO community as a whole. Marvel Heroes should count here!
Eliot: NFT games continue to pop up, utterly fail to catch on, and then quietly fading while the next one shuffles up like this time, this time, it’s going to work. No one feels bad when they fail to except for the financial speculators trying to push them. Richard Garriott does at least one interview about his that goes hilariously badly for him. I feel like this deserves a special call-out for prescience as Richard Garriott made headlines this year because of his provocative commentary on the whole submarine thing.
Eliot: A new MMO is announced that makes everyone pause and stare in confusion with a “wait, what?” Whether that is a good or bad sort of confusion remains to be seen. Tarisland, maybe?
Eliot: None of the other projects in the “we’re watching but we don’t even have a name yet” category get names or any reason to expect they’re really truly going to happen. I think Pax Dei rebuts this one!
Eliot: People get very anxious when I post a WRUP specifically homaging Simon & Garfunkel’s “A Most Peculiar Man” and then go completely silent for a week. OK this is just cheating because he gets to decide the intro joke for WRUP!
Stay tuned for next week when we deliver our predictions for 2024!