MassivelyOP’s 2023 Awards: Biggest MMO Blunder

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

Today’s award is for the Biggest MMO Blunder, which was awarded to Blizzard’s exit from China last year. This award isn’t exactly fun, but it’s important accountability and a complement to the praise in our other awards. We believe identifying where the industry went wrong this year is crucial to both avoiding these genre trainwrecks and preparing for them in the future. 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 Biggest MMO Blunder of 2023 is…

OVERWATCH 2’S MANY FIASCOS

​Andrew Ross: Overwatch 2 admitting it isn’t doing full PvE mode. I saw it coming, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Andy McAdams: Uncontroversial – either Diablo IV and all the stupid decisions there, or OW2 for all the obvious reasons. Insert Picard/ Ryker facepalm meme. Sigh.

Brianna Royce: Blizzard botching Overwatch 2’s PvE so badly, followed by whiffing on Diablo IV’s GAAS offerings. Honestly, the writing was on the wall for Overwatch 2 when Jeff Kaplan left, followed by several more top OW2 team leads. (Haven’t heard a peep outta him in a while, have ya?) So Blizzard completely sinking the solid Overwatch rep on promising an MMO-like PvE mode and then yanking it after launch while admitting they already knew it was dead before launch but they kept lying about it to get people in the door anyway? This is not a company that respects MMO players or any players.

Carlo Lacsina: Diablo IV patch 1.1.0 killed whatever momentum it had from launch, requires its fans to do some crazy mental gymnastics to accept the state of the game. This patch really showed how the Diablo IV branch of Blizzard is run by ARPG novices. I’m all for learning-as-you-go, but I don’t understand why they didn’t refer back to past experiences from Diablo 2 and 3 to avoid such a huge mistake. That emergency campfire chat had the energy of an exec angrily calling the studio and saying “fix this or you’re fired!” The irony here is that the improvements that’s been going into Diablo IV recently feel more like Diablo 3 improvements, something they tried to avoid with this patch. Funny how things turn out.

Chris Neal: Overwatch 2’s PvE rug pull. This didn’t need to happen. Blizzard would have made so many more people happy – and made all of the money – if it had stuck with the intention of this now confirmed pseudo-sequel. Instead, the game is just like the original ninja sprites from Mortal Kombat – a recolor and slight tweak but ultimately the same as the original.

Colin Henry: Overwatch 2 cutting PvE, Unity’s mess. The Overwatch to Overwatch 2 transition was rough. The game was effectively in maintenance mode for ages while the sequel was being worked on. But it would all be worth it, of course, because the sequel would include new features, like new story and cooperative PvE missions, right? Apparently not. Now the game has lost a lot of momentum and players, and the only real change the sequel brought was a business model shift from buy-to-play to free-to-play, and a smaller party size, both of which seem like they could have been done with a balance patch. And it is perhaps less directly related to MMOs, but my frustration with Unity’s dumbfoundingly bad calls this year cannot be understated. This is a game engine that I have built a number of small games in, and was working on a couple of much bigger projects. However, I, as well as a development group I have worked with in the past, and countless other indies I have seen around the Internet, have shifted our projects to other engines because we have completely lost faith in this company. Yes, they walked the egregiously bad monetization changes slightly and ousted the president (may he never trouble our industry again) but developers’ trust was already broken, and Unity will have a difficult, uphill battle to gain that back. And if the dubious AI path it is going down now is any indication, I’m not going to hold my breath for that trust to be regained any time soon.

Eliot Lefebvre: Overwatch 2. All of it. I’ve written so much about why this is dumb that it’s boring. If you’re going to say “at least the tiny story missions we got were all right,” just don’t. What a giant sequence of self-owns.

Justin Olivetti: Pantheon’s decision to announce that it was going to shove the MMO aside to work on an extraction shooter elicited facepalms and concerned alarm across the fandom. Visionary Realms caught a whole lot of deserved flak for this boneheaded decision, but the backpedaling was too late to avoid the loss of trust and goodwill toward this project.

Sam Kash: New World not including a level booster with their expansion!

Tyler Edwards: Guild Wars 2’s Secrets of the Obscure seems to have underwhelmed pretty widely. There’s a definite sense that their shift to smaller but more frequent expansions is just about getting more money without making things any better for players. Also, that has to be the worst title ever given to a major MMO expansion. Did no one read it out loud before they decided to go with it?

Blizzard screwing up Overwatch 2 every which way took our award for Biggest MMO Blunder. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO-related blunder in 2023?

  • The colossal failure of Overwatch 2, its PvE, and its esports (23%, 163 Votes)
  • Diablo IV's lackluster post-launch (11%, 80 Votes)
  • Unity's failed attempt to soft-extort game devs (21%, 153 Votes)
  • Pantheon announces and retracts an extration side game (7%, 47 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2's new quarterly cadence shift (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Mass layoffs that lead to braindrain from the games industry (7%, 50 Votes)
  • RuneScape's failed and rescineded battle pass (1%, 7 Votes)
  • The cancelation of E3, again (1%, 8 Votes)
  • WoW and other Blizzard titles sunset in China (2%, 16 Votes)
  • The ousting of Blizzard's Brian Birmingham (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Mike Ybarra tells Blizzard staff they're unskilled labor (4%, 32 Votes)
  • CCP Games dives into blockchain again (3%, 20 Votes)
  • Games like New World, WOWS, Lost Ark shutting down forums for Discord (3%, 23 Votes)
  • Embracer botched a $2B deal and blew up the company, including Cryptic (5%, 34 Votes)
  • The Realm owners sold the game out from under its dev team (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Blizzard put LFD into WoW Classic WOTLK after all (1%, 6 Votes)
  • MapleStory deleted an entire character class from the game (1%, 4 Votes)
  • The Wurm Online team implodes over new owners (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Magic 2 Master tried to fake an endorsement... from us (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Destiny 2's layoff and delays and playerbase collapse (5%, 39 Votes)
  • Digital Extremes abandoned Wayfinder before launch (2%, 11 Votes)
  • Something else - tell us in the comments! (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 493

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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 commentary from writers so that you can see our thought process. 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. Reader poll options include all MMOs nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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