MassivelyOP’s 2023 Awards: MMO Story of the Year

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

Today’s award is for the MMO Story of the Year, which was awarded to the unfortunate rise of blockchain MMOs 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 2023 is…

THE ACTIVISION-BLIZZARD MERGE INTO MICROSOFT

​​Andrew Ross: Blizzard. Everything Blizzard. From all the Microsoft sales stuff to pulling out Overwatch 2’s reason for existing (building PvE only mode with skill trees etc) to Ybarra claiming he doesn’t get paid more than other workers, and yeah, his performance at BlizzCon. This year may not have been as bad as other years, but damn was Blizz cringy.

Andy McAdams: ABK/MSFT merger. Good lord it finally went through! I have high hopes that with Kotick being non-too-kindly shown the door and some of the organizational rigor that comes with being part of Microsoft that we’ll see a marked improvement all the games in the portfolio — and hopefully more excising of the sleeze that’s managed to hide so far, because you know it’s still there. That stuff is worse than cockroaches.

Brianna Royce: It really had to be the Activision-Blizzard merge into Microsoft, which brings to a close a legal and industry drama that’s been ongoing for two years. Unfortunately, it also allows Activision, Blizzard, and their executives and management to escape real consequences for the 2021 abuse exposés that forced the sale. The only silver lining here is that Microsoft is more likely to work with the unions – and we’re finally rid of Bobby Kotick, the kind of guy who laid people off in good years, spewed xenophobia on TV, insisted he was a union guy while spending millions to bust unions, stiffed his own lawyer in a sexual harassment case against him, and threatened to have his personal assistant murdered. I mean, holy shit. Good riddance.

Carlo Lacsina: Microsoft buys ActiBlizz. I have been waiting with bated breath for this acquisition. Under the guidance of Microsoft, I really hope there’s a shift in corporate culture when it comes to treating every employee with respect and fairness.

Chris Neal: ABK/Microsoft merger. Could this really be anything else? Honestly? The biggest gaming subsumption ever is hard not to remind people of, and while I hope for the best (for the employees especially), it’s hard to not also hold my breath a little bit over what this means for our genre and the games industry itself.

Colin Henry: Blizzard’s buyout finally going through. Love it or hate it, there is no other choice for this award in my mind than Microsoft finally getting the green light to acquire Activision/Blizzard/King. Personally, while competition is always good, I’m not too broken up about it. Gaming is one of the easiest sectors to break into (just look at how many studios pop up just in our genre with former Blizzard or Riot devs at the helm) and if the deal hadn’t gone through, another, smaller fish probably would have come along and swallowed ABK up. Does anyone want to imagine a world where Blizzard was under the EA banner instead of Microsoft? Because I don’t.

Eliot Lefebvre: Activision-Blizzard moving to Microsoft. The most depressing part of this story – which is definitely big – are the number of people who have persistently tried to frame this as a good thing, like it’s anything but a net negative to have more power consolidated with fewer companies. This is a bad, unpleasant story I don’t like writing about and it happened anyway, nothing about it is good for anyone, and getting rid of Bobby Kotick may be a good thing, but it’s not like he’s getting ousted on criminal charges he definitely deserves. He gets a golden parachute and is just going to glide to the next money-making venture he doesn’t care about. Whee.

Justin Olivetti: World of Warcraft announcing three expansions in one go. Chris Metzen really worked up the BlizzCon crowd before producing a jaw-dropping announcement about the upcoming Worldsoul Saga. WoW is not out of the woods yet, mind you, but Blizzard is being more assertive and ambitious than it’s been in a long time, and it’s wild to see.

Tyler Edwards: I think Blizzard’s ongoing rollercoaster was the biggest news-generator overall. D4 having a huge launch only for public opinion to sour. Overwatch 2’s PvE controversy. The Microsoft buyout. Layoffs, etc… I’d like to think the buyout and Metzen’s return are the start of a redemption arc, but it’s too early to say, changes will likely be slow in coming even if they are positive, and I think a lot of people will continue to resent Blizzard no matter how hard it works to redeem itself.

Microsoft’s buyout of ABK took our award for MMO Story of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the biggest MMO story of 2023?

  • The completed merger of ABK into Microsoft (26%, 83 Votes)
  • The colossal failure of Overwatch 2, its PvE, and its esports (9%, 29 Votes)
  • Diablo IV's lackluster post-launch (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Daybreak is working on EverQuest 3 (6%, 19 Votes)
  • A quarter of a million workers were laid off in the tech industry this year (12%, 39 Votes)
  • SWTOR's move from BioWare to Broadsword (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Unity's failed attempt to soft-extort game devs (14%, 43 Votes)
  • The cancelation of E3, again, for real this time (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Star Citizen claims Squadron 42 is feature complete (2%, 6 Votes)
  • WoW and other Blizzard titles sunset in China (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Ghostcrawler left the Riot MMO to found his own (1%, 2 Votes)
  • CCP's obnoxious obsession with crypto (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Amazon revived its Lord of the Rings MMO (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Embracer botched a $2B deal and blew up the company, including Cryptic (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Digital Extremes abandoned Wayfinder before launch (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Pantheon announces and retracts an extration side game (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes emu code exists (1%, 4 Votes)
  • WoW announced three expansions at once (4%, 11 Votes)
  • ArcheAge Unchained sunsets back into ArcheAge (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Destiny 2's layoff and delays and playerbase collapse (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Star Citizen hit $600M in crowdfunding (1%, 4 Votes)
  • New World finally got a sustainable monetization plan (0%, 1 Votes)
  • The Repopulation was unceremoniously laid to rest (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Swords of Legends was sunsetted (0%, 0 Votes)
  • CCP Games is trying to make another EVE FPS (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Something else - tell us in the comments! (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 201

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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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