Massively Overthinking: Our MMO predictions for 2024

    
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It’s time once again for the MOP staff and readers to engage in our favorite end-of-the-year MMO: collectively guessing what’s going to happen next year. Yes, this Massively Overthinking will round up all of our predictions for 2024, relating to the MMORPG genre, of course. We have a pretty decent track record, as you’ll have seen already if you caught our rundown of the hits and misses from our predictions last year.

As usual, we stress that just thinking something is going to happen does not mean we’re wishing for it, although sometimes it is. We do a whole ‘nother post for wishes, though! Join our roundtable for our MMO predictions for 2024…

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I predict Blizzard will continue to lose player trust and its position in esports. I think the “Season of Discovery” has/will bring people in, and we may see a bit of an uptake in WoW’s popularity because of that and the new expansion, but at least in my circles and among readers, I’m not seeing anything that’ll make it the king it once was. If it’s not already happening, I predict some work will be done in the background on a new Overwatch game, either as a sequel or spin-off. We may not hear about it in 2024, but the IP is so strong, I can’t imagine Blizzard looking at the damage it did to the series this year and simply giving up.

On the other hand, I think FFXIV will continue to do right by people. I’m seeing more and more people still getting on the bandwagon after all these years. Elder Scrolls Online will do well for those who already love it, but I’m not expecting anything huge this year (prove me wrong, Zeni!).

Riot is probably due for something major this year, especially with it having been a few years since Arcane came out. It’s not that League of Legends isn’t popular, but it isn’t gaining the company much. Having lost Greg Street, the company could put a name on the MMO to try to drive up hype, or maybe Street leaving was a sign that this MMO won’t make it across the finish line. That isn’t to say that I think it may be outright canceled, but I’m wondering if it’ll be smaller scale.

Meanwhile, my most anticipated game from last year, Palia, will continue to have a rocky beta at the least, and there’s going to be a lot of talk about bringing in more multiplayer features, if not massively multiplayer.

I’m not expecting anything from any Kickstarted MMO project except doom: walking back promises, delays, and poor releases, maybe another outright cancellation or two. Much like VR, Kickstarter was a fad that we’re sadly still dealing with, mostly because it treated potential customers like investors but without promising anything more than high-end “collector’s edition” type perks at best and a copy of the game (assuming it comes out at all) at worst. Still, I think we’re due in for a new major fad this year. VR’s basically already gone, battle royale is passé, and survival sandboxes have been on a downward trend for ages. Most of that’s PvP too. Maybe we’ll get something PvE-related? (Come on, dev-controlled lore characters fighting the community and running away at low health, let’s make a comeback!).

Niantic will continue to be the biggest player in the MMOARG space for at least the first few foreseeable months, but Pokemon Go will continue to decline. The “Los Angeles” Sinnoh Tour will be decent but have the smallest impact compared to the other three regional tours. The company’s AR side in particular will weaken; even if it introduces new AR features in any of its games, they’ll ultimately be ignored or relegated to chore status, aside from simple GPS tracking. If any Niantic IP is shut down this year, it’ll be Pikmin Bloom. On the other side of things, Orna will continue to be the little game that could, as we see more new features introduced, more new classes, new playstyles, more sprite updates, and more crossover features with its related app, Heroes of Aethric, though sadly I think mainstream recognition will elude it.

I have a feeling this is the year Nintendo will announce a new console (apparently not a replacement), and I would be absolutely shocked if Mario Kart isn’t mentioned. Things will probably start to slow down in Splatoon 3, maybe even with a major finale arc like the last two games got. I don’t expect anything massively multiplayer from it this year, but I do expect some more curveball online play, similar to Mario Bros 35 and F-Zero 99.

Andy McAdamsWoW – Does better than most people expect when let out from under the thumb of Activision, as Microsoft focuses on getting the WoW team happy again. The War Within launches in the summer with all of the pains that come with shorter development times, the community piles on about Blizzard because Blizzard, but it has everything sorted within a few weeks after launch, and it continues the trend towards midcore and non-raider/Mythic playstyles.

FFXIV – Launches its newest expansion to critical acclaim, but with some lightly rumbling about the sameness and formulaic expansions have become. We’ll hear some calls for innovation from SE.

ESO continues to do ESO-y things – being successful without being splashy about it. They’ll continue to double-down that the technical loophole from animation cancelling is totes intended and a valid gameplay loop. They’re totally serial guys.

Guild Wars 2 continues its trend of more frequent but smaller releases. The game will continue to demonstrate its staying power, while remaining more or less understated in the greater MMOsphere.

Palia continues to build out on the solid but still somewhat shallow foundation while continually futzing with its monetization as it struggles to find the sweet spot of what people will buy and for how much while not pissing off the folks who view any monetization as evil.

LOTRO continues to chug along merrily with its moderate but very consistent success.

Amazon’s LOTR MMO says something else tone deaf, while development status gets vague, indicating a lack of enthusiasm internally at AGS for a LOTR-game-in-name-only.

The Riot MMO continues to be a thing. They promise.

EverQuest 3/Next/N+1 shares some more information but suffers from lack of vision and direction, and likely builds with gamer sensibilities from two decades ago because “EQ and EQII are still profitable so people must like it.” Still, who doesn’t want to go back to a Kelethin that’s not so floaty with graphics from 15 years ago?

Something new and totally unexpected launches onto the scene that gets all of us excited with a close release date. It promises to innovate the genre, and we think that just maybe it might have a chance. A chance. But we are still skeptical. Always skeptical.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Last year, I guessed that we’d get console launches for Lost Ark and World of Warcraft, and New World, and I was wrong about all three. I really don’t think Amazon’s up for the task, but I also don’t see how Blizzard could fit it in next year. I’m going to offer it up again anyway.

I think Throne & Liberty and Blue Protocol are in for a rough road in the west. But I expect Tarisland to come out strong. It won’t bleed WoW much, but it’ll bleed other MMOs.

Final Fantasy XIV’s Dawntrail will carry the year rather easily, eliciting shock and tears even from mainstream outlets that usually pretend MMORPGs don’t exist and/or are dead until ad revenue is on the line. I said what I said.

I think Guild Wars 2 will have a pretty quiet year in the months between the class weapon launch and the next expansion, potentially convincing ArenaNet to retool its planned cadence.

WoW’s The War Within will be pretty good but not spectacular. Maybe even good enough to pull the game out of its long slump, but I think it’ll feel small, with a lot of people in there at launch to looksee but no chops beyond that. I’d like to be wrong. WoW Cataclysm won’t be setting any records, though.

Nightingale will be the sleeper hit of 2024. I’ll spend way too much time in there.

Broadsword will finally get a version of UO Legacy to the public, but the formal launch will be delayed into 2025.

Funcom will remember it’s still working on a DUNE MMO for Tencent and actually bring it to beta.

Daybreak will finally reveal EverQuest X, a massive metaverse sandbox MMO, as part of its 25th anniversary festivities, but it’s at least seven years away. It’ll re-release Landmark to bolster some goodwill in the meantime. (OK, now that’s wishful thinking.)

Blizzard will announce it’s launching Overwatch Classic.

ArcheAge 2 will delay into 2025.

Albion Online will change its mind about its new cadence and do something huge – like a full-blown expansion or PvE server – by the end of the year, pushing its concurrency numbers to a new record.

I picked this last year too, and I know it’s coming eventually: Roblox will announce Roblox 2. (It’s been positively dumping money on a secret project.)

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): The untitled League of Legends MMO will finally release at least one screenshot! We might even get a neat trailer to go along with it!

Guild Wars 2 will have completed the story beats for this latest expansion. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s going to be some kind of frustration with class balance again sometime in 2024.

Black Desert Online will release more PvE-friendly features that make it easier for players to grind without having to get interrupted by other players. The ultimate outfit releases and everyone buys it, making BDO a legendary game, even more legendary than FFXIV and WoW.

LOTRO will have another strong year from regular content releases and patches.

FFXIV roleplayers will one-up their billboard and release a full blown TV commercial. Hilarity will ensue. Nobody will be sure whether it was to be ironic or if they’re seriously trying another stunt like this. Hilarity will ensue.

FFXIV’s expansion will come out. It’ll do well, but I don’t think it’ll be as impactful as Shadowbringers or Endwalker. It’ll be fine though because more FFXIV!

Bobby Kotick will be one of the dancers for Dancing with the Stars!

Word of Warcraft will run a promotion with Arbys, and it’ll be something cool-as-hell like “get a free month of WoW for every beef and cheddar you eat in a single sitting.” I won’t have to worry about a sub for a whole year because I’ll eat 12. I love Arby’s Beef and Cheddar sandwiches. Another cool thing they can do is do an “eat a sub get a sub” with Subway. Same concept, participants will get a sub for every foot-long sub they consume in a single sitting.

HEROES OF THE STORM WILL BE MAKING A COMEBACK BABYYYY! It’s going to be LIT 🔥🔥🔥. They’ll add a new hero, but this time, it’ll be a character from one of the Microsoft properties. Could this be the year the priest from Age of Empires wololos his way into the Nexus? Will 2024 be the year Master Chief comes down and finishes the fight!? Will Banjo Kazooie get into the nuts and bolts of this Hero Brawler!? Will our heroes go toe to toe with BATTLETOADS?! 2024 will be the year man. It’ll be the year!!!!

PSO2:NG will get some new content updates, and if Blue Protocol comes out this year, PSO2 will see a dip in its playerbase but will once again return to normal levels after a few weeks.

Closers will remain open.

Lost Ark will find a way to get more players to return to the game. Possibly make high end raiding more accessible without making the journey there feel like a full time job. I really hope this happens. Lost Ark right now doesn’t feel like a game where I can just sit down and play content I want to play without feeling like I’m behind.

Elder Scrolls Online will bring back the “Arrow to the Knee” joke from 12 years ago.

Tank players will unionize. Healers will stop healing DPS because they won’t get out of the red circles and learn mechanics. As in they will literally stop healing. They’ll remove it from their skill bars and just see what happens to the games they heal for. DPS players will continue to brag about how tough their role is because dAmAGe and MeChanics aRe HaRD to do.

LOTRO will release a new class and it’ll either be a Giant, Ranger, Astro, or Angel.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Delays will bear fruit as we see a big, tasty dearth of new releases arrive to our corner of the gaming world, especially in the case of Nightingale and Throne & Liberty. Dovetailing from that, I also predict that Tarisland will become a sleeper hit – not the WoW killer Tencent envisions it to be, but a far more solid MMORPG in spite of that; in fact, I’d even go so far as to guess it’ll near a top ten status.

Darkpaw will introduce EverQuest 3, capping off its “Year of Itself” thing that it has going on for the original two games. It will be nothing like EverQuest Next, however, and will likely take years to come to anything close to fruition… or an early access launch.

After Microsoft and Blizzard get their corporate ducks lined up, Blizzard will once more try to make inroads into the Chinese market. Microsoft is hongry for mobile gaming money and that country is a mobile gaming money gold mine, so most of 2024 will be spent mending bridges.

Squadron 42 will begin its delay announcements. And knowing my luck, I will finally have a PC capable of running SQ42 and Star Citizen, but it won’t matter because neither of these games will come out, and by the time they do, my rig will be outdated once again.

I will move in with Eliot. Or he’ll move in with me. Right after I have enough capital to buy a house. Hahahahaha yaright.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): Guild Wars 2 finishes out Secrets of the Obscure as planned. The rest of the updates will be just as disappointing as the last one if you aren’t interested in playing around with additional weapons or chasing legendary armor. Many of the issues from the weapon beta won’t be fully fixed, and balance will be a mess for a few months, but it smooths out by the time the next expansion comes out. GW2’s next expansion follows a pattern similar to SOTO.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has a minor comeback under Broadsword. It won’t be anything like the old days, but it will get more love than it did under BioWare the last few years.

Blue Protocol launches in the West to much fanfare, but it fizzles within a few months and quickly fades into obscurity.

Wayfinder limps along for most of the year without the backing of a publisher, but eventually finds one and launches, to modest success.

FFXIV Dawntrail is great and wins all of the awards. I never stop misreading it as Dawntreader and getting excited for a second that there is a Narnia MMO, only to have my hopes dashed.

Now both under the Microsoft banner, World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls Online release a series of cross promotions, such as allowing ESO Orcs to walk around uncomfortably hunched over like WoW Orcs, and WoW Druids to change their cat form to look like Razum-Dar. Both games have an AI-powered Clippy added to their UI that you can ask for build advice or to make a cool transmog outfit for you.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): World of Warcraft launches The War Within in late 2024 (my bet is September at the earliest) and it is… actually good! Like, it’s just well-received. People are happy with it and it does well. The team still manages a few self-owns along the way including still trying super hard to sell the “third era” talk about the game, but people are more willing to overlook it because the expansion isn’t reheated nonsense. By the end of the year, there’s even rumbles about a long-requested feature coming to the game that irritates some of the diehards, but there’s a growing sense that maybe WoW is, in fact, good again.

WoW Classic’s Season of Discovery turns out to be… well… what it is. All of the prognostication about it turning into a launchpad for something new turns out to be just self-created furor that doesn’t go anywhere, and the luster fades. Another seasonal experiment is announced in 2024. Meanwhile, Cataclysm launches and… well… you can imagine how that goes. Insert your own Hindenburg meme. (My favorite is “oh, the huge manatee!”)

Final Fantasy XIV launches Dawntrail in June or July, and general consensus is once again annoyingly good, with a sense from some places that you want this to not be as good because they just did a big story cap-off expansion and this has to be a lesser prospect, but… it isn’t. The new jobs are considered delightful, the graphical upgrades are well-received, the gameplay remains solid, and at least one quality-of-life change is widely praised. The playerbase also seems generally happier with the state of the game moving into the end of the year.

The Elder Scrolls Online just keeps on scrolling. There are content updates. It still does not seem to be doing much to address its enthusiasm problem, but it’s still a rock-solid game.

Guild Wars 2 announces its follow-up to SOTO and fans absolutely lose their minds with excitement; it looks really cool. While it’s still on the same level of scope, the changes are just better-received all around and people are hype for where the game is going.

Blue Protocol launches initially into a weird place; the first couple of weeks are fairly quiet, as it seems like not as many people were hype about this as expected. But then positive word-of-mouth starts spreading, and while the game is still beset by critiques that it has predatory monetization it definitely seems to have legs. It doesn’t follow Amazon’s prior trajectory of big launch numbers followed by a steady die-off, but instead respectable numbers that climb. It’s like the old days all over.

New World manages to capitalize on the second wind of its expansion launch and settles into a comfortable groove. A somewhat precarious groove, to be sure, as the game always feels like it’s on the knife’s edge… but a groove all the same.

EVE Vanguard collapses and goes nowhere.

Daybreak Games manages to self-own more and fail to really win back the crowd and suffers one major, notable loss – maybe a title shuttering, maybe a major staff member leaving, or maybe someone else buying SSG.

At least one title that hit early access this year just can’t make it through to the end and shutters partway through.

Crypto schemes persist, but they become more tangibly desperate. Instead of seeming legitimate before quickly becoming otherwise, they seem like desperate grabs right out the gate. No new projects actually manifest from that scheme.

Final Fantasy XI finally confesses it knows what maintenance mode is by actually going that route. Rest in peace.

We see the revivals of lost games become a thing this year. Rogue servers power on, old titles that were let go come back, and so forth. It’s not the biggest story, but it’s a year of wins for game preservation.

I have a really good year that ends with my feeling happy and hopeful. (I am told by my therapist that putting out this prediction is called “manifesting.”)

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’m absolutely rubbish with predictions because I know the volatility and unpredictability of this genre. I also make no personal claim to having any sort of wise future-sight. With those caveats out of the way…

I think 2023 will continue to be an uphill year for World of Warcraft as it continues to tinker around with Classic and kicks off the Worldsoul Saga (which will be “fine” but not as game-changing as Blizzard hoped).

FFXIV’s summer expansion is going to suck all of the oxygen from the room and draw a lot of lapsed and dissatisfied players into a tropical isle adventure.

LOTRO is going to continue to expand on the Umbar region for its next series of updates, bring out 4K support, and start up a new legendary world with some crazy ruleset.

Guild Wars 2 is going to deliver another lame expansion and make players antsy that ArenaNet isn’t working on a proper Guild Wars 3 already.

SWTOR is going to get a second renaissance of a sort under Broadsword, New World will continue to improve in its offerings and reputation, and ESO is going to announce that it’s done doing yearly chapters.

We’ll hear that a few long-time MMOs are closing for good this year — RIFT and Champions Online — but Tarisland, Blue Protocol, and Nightingale are going to give us hope for a vivacious future.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Although it surprised us once, ARK goes back to its ways of delays.

As it is EverQuest’s 25th anniversary and EverQuest II’s 20th, Daybreak Games has a few big things planned (maybe another local fan meet up again?). The expansions will be a big bigger and flashier this year and perhaps the focus on only veterans at endgame will ease up and new or returning players will get some attention.

EverQuest the Tease will offer some artist conceptions, but whether it will be as a “this is what we would have done if we didn’t scrap it” or “this is what we plan to do, though nothing’s been done yet,” we will have to see. However, this Year of EverQuest the Second would be the best time to really punch it out and offer something substantial to players.

Path of Exile 2 interest will be huge when the closed beta starts in June, taxing the infrastructure, but Grinding Gear Games is prepared for it and things go relatively smoothly.

Adventure Quest 3D housing launches and it is addictive; players start grinding for furniture. (Me, I am players.) Housing items become a lucrative cosmetic option for Artix Entertainment as well as a popular new loot drop from special events.

SWTOR gets some love and attention under Broadsword and interest in it is rekindled and some players come back.

Conan Exiles will continue to expand on the living world features it is starting with Age of War Act III making PvE better and making the game feel more like a mini MMO. That, however, anmnoysv the hard-core PvPers, who then are slightly distracted by/appeased with the bloody fatalities that Act IV introduces.

Warframe 1999 introduces a new way for players to join in the game, like Duviri did. This allows folks to start at this content easily and not have to go through the whole storyline of the game. (On the wish side, Warframe 1999 is so cool that a stand alone game — a la Funcom’s The Park from The Secret World — is developed.)

ArenaNet regrets moving Guild Wars 2 to the small releases style and considers going back to bigger expansions, even if only slightly bigger.

Star Trek Online starts a new storyline with a popular Star Trek character and surprises fans when the actor voices it. Which? I am not telling!

SOMEONE gives me a cool Leap Day event in game!

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): Predictions are always fun. I wish I were deeper in more games than I am right now. So I’m kind of on the outside, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from wildly speculating about what’s to come.

Blizzard is going to have one more big mess on its hands, but then the console launch will reinvigorate it for a bit longer. Microsoft will consider it a win.

New World is going to add a character level booster and I’ll finally have a chance to try it the game’s actual PvP mode.

Guild Wars 2 will continue to do it’s thing. I don’t think I played it at all in the second half of the year, although I did play a couple of the early festivals. I’m still waiting for the aliens to arrive in the next story bits.

Personally I’ll still be playing Harry Potter Magic Awakened, but I don’t think it’ll be a daily gaming session for me. I haven’t missed a day since launch, which is pretty surprising considering nothing has kept my attention this long on a while.

I think I’ll find my way into Ashes of Creation for at least one or two evenings. I don’t think we’ll see any sort of release but I think they’ll tease like it for a couple of months.

Evercore Heroes, which is technically dead and is being retooled as Project R I think, will come out with a sad blog around June saying that they couldn’t find enough full time funding so they are going to shutter the project permanently.

EverQuest Next*2 will have an early access next October. I won’t be invited, though, which is mildly disappointing since I predicted it.

Crimson Desert will be promoted back to an MMO.

Tyler Edwards (blog): I’m going to be doing a full column of predictions for New World in the near future. As far as other games…

WoW’s The War Within will launch to generally favourable reviews. It will still be an uphill battle to win back player goodwill after all that’s happened in the last few years, but there’s a sense the game’s course is beginning to correct among those still playing.

Diablo IV will continue to struggle as it has, but I don’t see any major catastrophes on that front. I think it’s possible it could transition to free to play, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I think there’s at least a 60% chance that Overwatch 2 never delivers any more story content. I’d be more optimistic if story missions hadn’t been completely ignored at BlizzCon, even in their 2023 retrospective. Regardless of how much PvE is or isn’t added, people will continue acting like they never did anything on that front.

Heroes of the Storm will get that speculated Steam release, though perhaps not until late in the year. It will not get the full revival fans are hoping for, but I’m cautiously optimistic we may see more support in the form of small balance patches and the like.

Late in the year — at BlizzCon if there is one — Blizzard unveils a new game. Possibly the survival game they’ve been working on, maybe something unexpected. I wouldn’t be shocked to see another smaller mobile title.

Blue Protocol will get its Western launch. Reactions will be a bit lukewarm but lean favourable. It plugs along OK, but doesn’t make the big splash Lost Ark did.

Tarisland will launch and get a decent amount of hype for a month or two before it’s all but completely forgotten, at least in the West.

Elder Scrolls Online will release another chapter that appears functionally indistinguishable from prior chapters to those of us not heavily invested in the game. There is a 98% chance it involves Daedra.

Wayfinder will die a slow, painful death without having left early access. There’s a small chance it gets rescued by a generous publisher, but I don’t think that’s likely.

I said this last year and was proven wrong, but I think this is the year RIFT will kick the bucket.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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