MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020, which was awarded to Blizzard last year thanks to the multi-month Blitzchung fiasco. This isn’t a meta-award we particularly enjoy giving, but we think this type of accountability is a fitting complement to praising trends and big stories: Identifying where the industry went wrong this this year is crucial to both avoiding these genre trainwrecks and preparing for them in the future.
And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020 is…
STANDING STONE’S LOTRO FIASCO
Andy McAdams: The Epic-Apple kerfuffle. Maybe 2020 (and 2019 and 2018) has desensitized me towards blunders, or maybe as I don’t play a SSG game it impacted me less, but the LOTRO stuff didn’t even enter my mind.
Brianna Royce: LOTRO is actually getting several positive nominations from me this year, so it pains me to give it a bad one here, but let’s be real: Standing Stone, or Daybreak if Daybreak is the one giving these orders, absolutely squandered the mountains of goodwill it generated in giving away content during COVID. Players might have forgiven the multiple weeks of technical snafus and crashing and downtime (and even a rollback for one unlucky DDO server) but for the abysmal communication along the way. Then it topped it all over with a seriously gross monetization shift meant to wring cash out of the most loyal players with blatant lies about a skimpy paid patch being an “expansion.” The studio head’s belated candor at the very end of the year may have assuaged some of my frustration, but it doesn’t make up for the blunders along the way. These were huge screw-ups from a game people love to love. I hope SSG reflects on them.
Carlo Lacsina: The time LOTRO was down for what felt like an age. Holy crud, I don’t play LOTRO personally, but I just felt so bad for the people who couldn’t play their favorite MMO. Imagine the anxiety players probably had over the server going down permanently and losing their character forever!
Chris Neal: SSG bellyflopping with LOTRO. As I’ve said before, this communication clownshow and the subsequent disappointment that was the not-expansion expansion was bad enough that I didn’t want to offer sub money that I was wasting on SWTOR to SSG out of sheer principle. SSG made a dog’s breakfast out of LOTRO so hard that someone who doesn’t even play their game wasn’t about to award them money for it. And I don’t think I was alone in that sentiment, either. And for my runner-up, Camelot Unchained’s Final Stand Ragnarok. Hoo boy oh boy, was this just a bad look. Not to insinuate that City State Entertainment shouldn’t be allowed to make more than one game, but the timeline on Camelot Unchained’s release already felt extremely shaky, so to announce that the studio was working on a second title at the same time really did at least feel like a rug pulling moment even if it wasn’t meant to be. Mostly, though, I feel bad for Jacobs, who has appeared subsequently more worn down over the course of the year.
Eliot Lefebvre: The world was covered in death, and then SSG managed to show off all of the great content it has for years with a remarkably generous offer for Lord of the Rings Online. And then they spent the back half of the year pissing away literally all of that goodwill through a sequence of actions that couldn’t be more efficient if they tried. Seriously, who charges money for a content patch?
Justin Olivetti: The SSG/LOTRO mess. What makes this reward so bitter to me is that by all rights, LOTRO should’ve been coming out of 2020 looking like a prince among games. SSG did so good by its players by making all of LOTRO’s content free for months (and then a good chunk of that content free forever thereafter). But then came the server woes of the summer and the horrible “mini-expansion” fiasco of the fall, and SSG’s retreat into non-communication and defensive posturing drained all of the goodwill out of the bank and replaced it with sour feelings. Sigh.
Mia DeSanzo: Amazon/New World setting an August release date in the first place.
MJ Guthrie: LOTRO. Like, what?! I am still just flabbergasted at the debacle that happened there this year. From the game going down for an extended period to silence in communication to that ridiculous “expansion” ordeal. I am a LOTRO player and that still baffles me how that all came about, and it leaves such a stain on the game that is going to affect it for a while.
Sam Kash: LOTRO. Their down time and overall disaster this year. I literally couldn’t create an account. Nothing can complete with that.
Tyler Edwards: I don’t think anything quite tops how consistently and thoroughly awful Ubisoft execs have been. Things that hurt people in the real world are always going to trump game blunders, no matter how bad they are (cough LOTRO cough).
SSG’s LOTRO fiasco took our award for Biggest MMO Industry Blunder of 2020. What’s your pick?
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 written commentary from every writer who submitted it on time so that you can see where some of us differed, what our secondary picks were, and why we personally nominated what we did (or didn’t). 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.
Poll options include all blunders nominated plus a few others we thought deserved consideration.