Let’s look at the year with rose tinted glasses, or perhaps a glass of hard liquor. As with any year, we had a lot of bad and a lot of good, so let’s take a minute to focus on the good stuff.
1. Goodbye Mythic Entertainment
This one is a bit cruel, but perhaps the best trend of 2014 was that those business practices that so many of us revile, in a lot of cases, didn’t work. In a world where many of these anti-consumer decisions are smashing successes, in the sense that they make enough money in the short term for the developer/publisher to simply not care about the long term ramifications or damages to their public image, the idea that so many of these blew up does a lot for consumers and sets a precedent for 2015 and beyond.
Just to name a few examples, Mythic Entertainment’s attempt to revive two classic games with the clear impression that free to play mobile was easy access to a lot of money, that being Ultima IV and Dungeon Runners, went down in flames and took the developer with it, along with what remaining goodwill the Mythic community had left.
Trion Worlds has been hit hard over their handling of Defiance as well as the launch and continued mishaps of ArcheAge, and at the beginning of the year cancelled its End of Nations MOBA. Wildstar advertised itself as a hardcore MMO for hardcore raiders, and subsequently only brought in the hardcore raiders. The game hasn’t been doing so well, with layoffs at Carbine Studios, delaying content and seeing a heavy drop in revenue in its second quarter.
Then there are the hundreds of cookie cutter free to play MMOs imported from Korea and China that shut down without any of us knowing that they existed.
There are a lot more examples to throw up, but I think I’ve made my point. It was good to see that, in 2014, the good guys actually made out pretty well while the ones with underhanded intentions just ended up stepping on rakes and getting hit in the face.
2. The Offloading and Revival Of MMOs
While we’re talking about the death of Mythic Entertainment, I’d like to take a moment to thank Electronic Arts personally for offloading Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot onto Broadsword Entertainment rather than allowing the classics to go down with the self-sinking ship. Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 (which was also revived years after its death) dropped their subscription fees and will eventually be spun off with players allowed to operate their own servers.
Similarly, we learned that there are deals in the works to bring back City of Heroes as a legacy server with the possibility that the IP might get a sequel or other spinoffs. Pirates of the Caribbean Online is being revived by a dedicated community. Dungeon Fighter Online is returning in English. Also Glitch has multiple projects to bring the game back with new servers and new content.
3. Free To Play Gets Slammed
Speaking of schadenfreude, free to play took a big blow this year in the form of several rulings against mobile publishers Apple and Google. Over in the UK, Google was forced to remove an ad for Dungeon Keeper on the grounds that calling it free was misleading. Apple settled with the FTC back in January and agreed to refund $32.5 million for inadvertent purchases made by children, while Google followed in September with $19 million.
Both companies have altered their stores to require a password always by default when downloading apps or making in-app purchases, and no longer label games as “free” if they have in-app purchases. Korea blanket-banned all Facebook games until they could be individually approved to ensure that they were complying with gambling laws.
We’ve been waiting for a few years now to get some results on what many consider to be predatory tactics, and it looks like our wish has been granted.
4. Classic Servers
Nostalgia is a great thing. If you’ve read MMO Fallout, you know about my fascination with the Old School RuneScape servers, and how Jagex managed to not only revive a great era from RuneScape’s past, but actually develop it in a direction away from RuneScape 3, based entirely off of player polls, with a dedicated team and community. Old School RuneScape continues to go strong, raising the possibility that other developers will take notice.
Lineage II is in the process of testing out a classic server, one that will hopefully come westward, and there has been some talk behind the scenes of other MMOs following.
5. MMOs On Consoles
2014 saw the announcement and release of multiple MMOs coming to the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Over on the Sony side, the PS4 added Final Fantasy XIV, Blacklight Retribution, and DC Universe Online, with the upcoming releases of Planetside 2, H1Z1, and Everquest Next. Xbox One saw the launch of State of Decay, with Neverwinter and SMITE coming eventually.
Both consoles can or will eventually be able to enjoy The Crew, The Division, Warframe, The Elder Scrolls Online, Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade, All Points Bulletin, and more. If you’ve been spending the past few years waiting to play an MMO on your console that isn’t Final Fantasy, you’re in luck.