Massively Overthinking: Hopes and fears for MMOs in 2024

    
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For our first Massively Overthinking of the year, we’re drawing a hard line between what we think will happen, what we mean to make happen, and what we hope will happen (and fear will happen). Yep, today’s roundtable is all about our hopes and fears – what we want to see happen to the MMO industry as well as the things we’re worried about. Let’s address our hopes and fears for MMOs in 2024.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): My hope is we finally hear something concrete about the Riot MMO, but I’m starting to think it might just get canned only to get the Blizzard Titan treatment and have its assets go to a different, non-MMO game. Speaking of Blizz, I’m hoping with Kotick gone, we’ll see Blizzard freed from some of its toxic influence but I’m afraid it could be too little too late.

I’m hoping Palia will work out its bugs and get MMO-y. Also, that we’ll be able to be the robots, or at least cyborgs.

Super long shot, but I hope Niantic has a come-to-Arceus moment and starts taking its business and player safety seriously, especially in Pokemon GO. However, given how the upcoming Sinnoh Tour sold out Day 1 despite many of the buyers also complaining about lack of basic information, I think it will only show that customers will buy anything and Niantic will choose to remain gross.

In a similar vein, I’m also afraid of games, particularly in the mobile sphere, becoming more obvious as gamble mechanics and snake-oil products for scamming devs and CEOs.

Finally, I hope for good things for Sandra Powers, both for herself and (to a much lesser degree) Project Gorgon. No offense to the game, of course, just putting people first. That being said, I also hope that the team better understands its fans and can monetize in a way to really build the game up in the coming years. I really want to see games like Gorgon do better in the mainstream so we can get a bit more quirk out there!

Andy McAdams: I think 2024 is going to be an interesting year in a lot of ways. But talking about MMOs, I think we are due for a renaissance — or at least a general bettering. Kotick being shown the door out of the industry in no uncertain terms is absolutely a net-good for everyone involved, and the industry at large. I think WoW will do really well under Microsoft’s tutelage, and if the current trend the game is on continues, it’ll be well on its way to being a significant force in the MMO-sphere.

I hope we get some new blood into the space. New World was one of the last substantial new games we’ve had, and it’s done well enough for itself and has carved out a solid following, but we could really use more. I’m hoping we get some new things to play in 2024, finally. I’m really hoping for the next-generation of game too. The tech has around gaming has evolved so much in the last 20 years, but the game design itself is mostly the same as it was 20 years ago. Not that I want standard game design to go-away, but I would love to see us augment it with new styles of gameplay and game design.

I’m both worried and hopeful about AI in MMOs. I’m worried because I think the Kotick wannabes of the world will see as a rational to downsize staff and maximize short-term profits. I’m hopeful because AI could allow us to have bigger, deeper games quicker. When used to augment human ingenuity and creativity, AI could allow us to do some really amazing things. But it’s going to be a bumpy road, and AI literacy is almost non-existent, allowing the AI tech bros and grifters to sell AI to do whatever they want and exploit people’s misunderstanding of the tech.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My hope is that a lot of the big games we have launching into our genre this year – and it’s quite a few! – launch big but then get the New World treatment, which is to say, no temports, please. I want the likes of Blue Protocol, Throne & Liberty, and Tarisland to land on their feet and push well beyond the initial three-month rise and fall, to settle into a proper cadence and really sink some effort into being long-term MMORPGs in the west.

I also want to echo what Andrew said about Project Gorgon finding its monetization feet. I understand exactly how it feels as an indie to not want to push or or selfpromote or grub for money, but let’s be real, the game needs it and the players want it. On a personal note, I hope I get sucked into something that makes me as obsessed about a new-to-me game as Gorgon did at the end of last year. Forever chasing that “holy shit, this is great” feeling in MMOs.

Also, I really, really want to get some hard news on EverQuest 3 and Koster’s new MMO. And I hope Nightingale and Light No Fire live up to the dreams in my heart.

As for fears, I am worried that Kotick will pop back up at some other major gaming corp and we won’t be rid of him. I’m worried that there are too many Kotick lackeys left running the remains of ABK under Microsoft that WoW and Blizzard are unsalvageable. And of course, I’m eternally worried that the inbound MMOs – delayed over from 2023 – won’t have enough sticking power.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): One of my biggest hopes is some crazy MMO surprise that catches everyone off guard and excites everyone. I’m talking about something on the same level as the great City of Heroes revelation of 2019! Imagine this, it’s just a normal Tuesday in June, and WHAM: Amazon or Microsoft makes an announcement proclaiming that Wildstar is back, baby, and we can log in tomorrow. That’s the kind of thing I’m hoping will happen this year. Probably won’t, but gosh darnit this genre needs a shakeup. That goes hand in hand with my fear though too: that nothing of interest will happen this year. A particularly boring year in MMOs will be a shame and a waste. Sadly, I feel that might be the case. Some other hopes I’ve got include finding a new MMO to really get into this year!

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I’m kind of worried about how prevalent early access games failing to launch will make even more publishers gunshy about backing MMORPG titles, which means we’ll see more Kickstarters, which means there will be more unfulfilled promises or under-developed games hitting early access, which leads to games failing to launch that makes even more publishers gunshy…. I think you see where I’m going with this, right?

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Here’s my simple but heartfelt list of wishes. One, that LOTRO has another really great year. Two, that we get at least two solid-to-strong MMO launches that demonstrate that they are going to go the distance. Three, that a former beloved MMO comes back in official or unofficial capacity. Four, that EverQuest 3 is officially announced. Five, that a surprise MMO comes onto the scene to amaze us. Fears? I don’t live by fears. I don’t want any good games to shut down, studios to close, or people to be laid off. But I’m not going to dwell on the what-might-happens.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’d really like to see the Riot MMO come into existence. I know there’s a lot of possibility that it doesn’t, but it’s something I’d want. I’ve never even played LoL, so it isn’t that I’m a fan or anything of them specifically, but I’d like to be. I really liked the Netflix show, and the Mechs vs Minions boardgame was pretty awesome too. Riot has the potential to make something awesome, and I’d like to play that.

For things I’m afraid of, I suppose everyone would roll their eyes at me for saying that I’d be bummed if they full on cancelled the Riot MMO – so I won’t do that. But I’m thinking it pretty hard. Instead, I’ll say I’m afraid of another big restructuring hitting ArenaNet. Of course, I don’t have any reason to think that would happen, but it feels like things are going really well over there, and GW2 has been kicking some butt, so a loss of communications and things with them would really suck!

Tyler Edwards (blog): I hope that New World will continue to build on its positive momentum. I fear that in chasing more mainstream appeal it will slide towards becoming more of a generic fantasy themepark with an unthreatening world, as opposed to the horror-adjacent alternate history MMO focused on challenging content that it started as.

I hope Overwatch 2 will continue to add new story missions, as I loved the first few. I fear that it will not.

I hope Blue Protocol will be good. I fear it will be another Eastern game that I like in theory but struggle to connect with in practice (see: Lost Ark, Aion, JRPGS in general).

I hope that Elder Scrolls Online does something new and daring that wins me back to it. I fear the odds of that are near zero at this point.

For a very, very unrealistic hope, I hope someone makes a Magic: Legends rogue server. Mess that it was, I really miss that game. And while we’re dreaming big, I hope that the issues with Diablo IV lead Blizzard to make a new DLC for Diablo III and finally wrap up its story.

Yeah, that won’t happen.

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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