Lord, what did we do to deserve this year? I’ll just steer away from politics, the world, and celebrity deaths for this if you don’t mind. Wow, 2016.
Still, it is time for this post, where I look back at the year gone by and look at some aspects over it, a tradition going back to 2010. Past entries:
- Looking Back at 2015
- Looking Back at 2014
- Looking Back at 2013
- Looking Back at 2012
- Looking Back at 2011
- Looking Back at 2010
- Looking Back at 2006
This annual post tends to be even more haphazard than my standard fare, an exercise in stream of consciousness writing as I add things to the list as they pop into my head. No links, no explanations, minimal punctuation, and lots and lots of bullet points.
- Still makes tons of money, actually has several popular, profitable games
- Just to reiterate, “Money, money, money, money, money!”
- Celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding… and the 22nd anniversary of when it was first bought by another company
- Shipped a WoW expansion, Legion, which sold well
- the lead-in preview events before the Legion launch were pretty good
- Actually appears to have a plan to keep content coming for Legion rather than the usual year long drought
- Blizz still does a good job with new players and level boosts to let you jump straight to the current content with your pals
- WoW Tokens haven’t destroyed the in-game economy or anything
- Overwatch is totally a stellar success, you can tell by the amount of rage that comes from one character getting just an okay holiday outfit
- Oh, and Overwatch got its own paid professional league
- Hearthstone is doing pretty well, getting new expansions and coverage on Twitch as a casual alternative to whatever
- Diablo III is getting some new stuff
- Hell, even StarCraft II is still chugging along selling mission packs
- If you are a fan of just ONE Blizzard game, you probably don’t think they give your game enough attention
- If you are a WoW fan, you’re probably pissed about how much attention all the new shit is getting
- The old instance group… totally not playing WoW, except for Earl who never stops playing it
- Chris Metzen, Mister Lore Enthusiasm, retired
- BlizzCon has become mostly a Blizzard eSports event
- Legion made the long, long tradition of alts a pain in WoW
- WoW classes in Legion are pretty much designed around a legendary weapon, so feel off until you get into the current content
- Have you seen the path to get flying in the Broken Isles?
- The whole Nostalrius saga, which really brought out some horrible people on both sides of the issue
- Blizzard continues to steadfastly fail to understand why somebody would want to play an old version of WoW
- Mark Kern injecting himself into the Nostalrius saga, which just seemed to make any progress forward less likely
- Nostalrius expecting fast action from Blizzard and just relaunching when they didn’t get it… this will end well
- The Diablo III new stuff is really nostalgia driven… which is okay for an older IP, but won’t sell many boxes as, say, Diablo IV would
- Uh… Heroes of the Storm… you still there?
Daybreak Game Company
- Really, things seemed to be well if you were a long time EverQuest or EverQuest II player; expansions, updates, free things, all good
- DC Universe Online has a happy community and seems to be doing well, especially on PlayStation
- H1Z1 King of the Kill seems to be popular on Twitch and is getting off of Station Cash
- Some sort of publishing deal for LOTRO and DDO through the new Standing Stone Games… that should be worth some money, right?
- Lots of job reqs on the Daybreak site, so they must be working on something new
- EverQuest Next got the axe after the traditional SOE long silence
- Without EverQuest Next, Landmark got shoved out the door, ready or not… mostly not
- Has Daybreak hit the point of diminishing returns for special/nostalgia servers for EQ/EQII?
- “Free to Play, Your Way!” became “There is a cover charge at the door and a two drink minimum”
- If you think you’re going to buy a level boost for EQ or EQ2 in order to play the new content, think again! This ain’t WoW, the path through Norrath is not well marked
- Haven’t heard much about PlanetSide 2 since its console launch
- H1Z1 Just Survive might have a name that is too close to the reality of its situation
- If Station Cash is so bad that they’re getting H1Z1 King of the Kill off of it, what does that say about the games left behind?
- Pulled support for retail game cards; no more bringing your allowance to GameStop to pay your subscription, you have to pay online now
- Good-bye Legends of Norrath
- No more open world PvP in EQ2 (I’m sure somebody considers this a low point, even if I don’t really)
- No more EQ2 Worlds mobile app either (That’s bad, right? Or was that just another distraction?)
- With Russell Shanks gone, Columbus Nova doesn’t even have the pretense of a gaming exec running the show
Standing Stone Games
- No longer part of Turbine or on WB’s balance sheet, so no more margin requirements… can actually spend money on development
- Being able to just run DDO and LOTRO is probably the best thing possible for both games at this point
- Mordor is in sight in LOTRO
- DDO still seems to be in good shape
- Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 have taken their final call and are being shut down
- With nothing new in sight, SSG is playing through its own company end game as a caretaker
- As their own company they gain the overhead for internal tasks that WB was likely doing for them, things like HR and payroll and such
- LOTRO and DDO are both licensed properties, so SSG still needs to send out checks for that every month, which is more overhead than a fully owned property like EveQuest or Ultima Online has to deal with
- Daybreak is now their publisher, which means they will need to get paid too
- Despite the “nothing is changing” FAQ, this move will mean changes eventually
- Able to run their own show, the first reaction seemed to be “revamp avatars!” which is code for “screw the current player base, I want new people around here!”
- Can they even afford to make new avatar models that are good enough to make a difference to anybody?
- They have the most popular VR app for the Oculus Rift in EVE Valkyrie
- Two big expansions, Citadel and Ascension that changed the face of New Eden
- A new New Player Experience in EVE; this time for sure!
- Citadels everywhere!
- Rorqual becomes the most popular capital ship in the game, figuratively if not literally
- We had a great big war, a two year PCU high mark, and the most people ever in a single battle this year
- CCP ends gambling, confiscates tainted ISK, and bans the RMT barons who fomented The Casino War after the Imperium called them out for being involved with RMT
- Skill injectors let new players “catch up” to vets in training
- The new CSM hasn’t been a distraction/embarrassment/hostile force this year
- DUST 514 went dark
- Rated 6/10 due to the shallowness of the game, EVE Valkyrie doesn’t have much competition and costs $99 if you didn’t get it for free
- Being the most popular VR app in the Occulus Rift fragment of the market is like being the most proficient thumb sucker in pre-school, an honor that just isn’t going to last
- F2P option boosted average PCU for EVE, but it is still 15K below the 2013 peak
- Banning RMT tainted casino accounts came too late to save the Imperium, but a dish served cold was better than no dish at all
- After the The Casino War Goons went to Delve while PL and NCDot started a rental empire at the expense of their erstwhile allies… nothing new in space, so just replay the greatest hits I guess
- Ummm… no, really, citadels everywhere
- Welcome to the new super cap arms race in null sec!
- Suddenly becoming the most popular anything in New Eden is a sure sign of a balance issue
- Not sure where the New Eden road map is headed next, and we probably won’t hear until Fanfest
- Skill injectors pretty much made the powerful more powerful, as the rich now can have insta-trained alts
- Not sure CCP is actually listening to the CSM
- RIP New Eden solo industrialists
- Still a loud faction out there that thinks walking in stations will “save” EVE Online
- Rumors of CCP being sold… you may not love those vikings, but who else would have even tried to make EVE what it is today?
- 20th Anniversary of Pokemon
- Re-release of Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console
- Pokemon Sun & Moon, a great new core Pokemon RPG, was a bit seller
- Pokemon Go takes the world by storm, boosting Pokemon related sales on all fronts
- Super Mario Run followed on Pokemon Go as a huge immediate success on mobile
- Announcement of a new mobile console thing, the Switch
- End of the line for the Wii U… but at least it outsold the Saturn and the Dreamcast
- Pokemon Sun & Moon performance on old model 3DS units is laggy
- They must Amiibo all the things these days I guess
- Pokemon Go problems… it wasn’t ready to be a phenomena
- Will the Switch be more of a handheld or a living room gaming console?
- The “not a successor” designation for the Switch no doubt means no backward compatibility for any of your current Wii U or 3DS games.
- Star Trek Online made its way to consoles
- Star Citizen shook off Derek Smart eventually
- Rift got an expansion out, as did SWTOR
- Black Desert Online had the MMO spotlight for a while
- The Elder Scrolls Online seems to have turned a corner to success/stability
- Minecraft continues to boom, with new updates, high sales, and a happy fans
- Project: Gorgon has been available and improving and got some more funding via Indiegogo
- WildStar lives yet!
- Dark and Light sputtered back into existence after an eight year server downtime
- No Man’s Sky had everybody excited for a cool, new indie space exploration game
- Stardew Valley shows one dev can make a compelling game
- The usual array of F2P fuckery, as J3w3l would put it, in various titles trying to boost income; I think Rift and Black Desert Online get a special mention for 2016
- A special bonus mention for SWTOR and its “new content is for subscribers” plan; can’t buy it ala carte, gotta pony up
- Black Desert Online fulfilled its prophecy and pretty much a re-run of ArcheAge, but that seems to be the way of these things no matter what MMO launches
- ArcheAge got an update, the main feature of which seemed to be killing the servers
- Consoles seem to be the main focus for Star Trek Online, so if you play on the PC you are probably behind on new features.
- Just because Derek Smart hasn’t posted about Star Citizen in a couple months doesn’t mean all is happy, as the whole package is still in alpha, still nowhere close to all those promised features, has moved to a new engine (which they forgot to mention for months), and still seems to be run in a haphazard and/or amateurish fashion
- Jesus, did any fucking Kickstarter I back even ship this year? Camelot Unchained? No! Shroud of the Avatar? No! Project: Gorgon? No! MineServer? No! Even Jason Scott’s documentary trio hasn’t shipped a single video yet. Dammit people, you know when you promise and don’t deliver you screw over the people trying to get funding after you, right?
- While I am complaining, early access has turned into something like, “We got the code to run, give us some money!” of late
- If WildStar’s revenue drops any further the studio is going to turn into a tax write-off for NCsoft
- Main line PC Minecraft needs to get off Java already
- The return of Dark and Light hardly seemed worth the effort
- No Man’s Sky was just the intersection of many bad things, with unmet promises, overreacting fans, and a level of post launch company support that might be best summed up with, “Have you tried turning it off and then back on again?”
- Seriously Hello Games, if you go on TV and say people can play No Man’s Sky with their friends, and they cannot, you have earned a pile of negative reviews
- The LEGO Minifigures Online closer punches Funcom in the gut yet again
- The rocky ride and sudden end of Hero’s Song
- Yahoo shut down Yahoo games, because literally anything Yahoo touches turns to shit… and then just gets worse from there
- Rogue One, a new Star Wars movie, was pretty okay
- Fantastic Beasts, a new Harry Potter universe movie, was pretty okay
- Westworld kept me going for ten weeks
- I am not a big super hero movie fan, but Deadpool did make me laugh
- The end of Downton Abbey
- Rogue One isn’t going to get anywhere close to $2 billion in the box office revenue, probably due to a lack of Skywalkers
- Also, Rogue One continued the tradition of crying about a vast SJW conspiracy because a female got a lead part in an action movie
- Akin to Rogue One, a lack of Potters does limit the appeal of Fantastic Beasts
- The Warcraft movie was really a for-the-fans-only venture, unlikely to expand the player base of the franchise
- I think super hero movies have hit saturation point… maybe we can do some westerns or something?
- So many celebrity deaths… crap, I wasn’t going to mention that… but Jesus Christ, even Carrie Fisher?
The Blog and Blogging and The Internet
- Continues to chug along with 360 posts this year, or almost one a day, up 7 from last year
- I still enjoy writing
- I still very much enjoy writing after I have writ and can go back and see what was up a year later
- Still a decent rang of blogs out there to read
- Massively OP still does a regular call out to blogs
- Reddit does has some very good and informative subreddits
- My enthusiasm for new and different MMORPGs has largely faded, so I tend to write about the same half dozen games over and over
- My style… crank out a first draft then press “publish,” after which I start to find errors and typos… remains largely unchanged
- I still have to fight the urge to start every paragraph after the first with, “And,” “So,” “Then,” and “Meanwhile.”
- Readership is down to about 2009 levels, though I suspect the core regular readership is about the same, it is just less new people showing up… sort of like an aging MMO, which seems oddly appropriate
- I still don’t link out to other blogs as often I think I should
- Blog attrition and fading has passed the replacement level in our corner of the net, or maybe I am so out of the loop that I simply no longer see new blogs as they pop up being an old fart
- Other MMO gaming news sites pretty quickly forgot about blogs after a flurry of paying attention to them last year
- AOL killed the Massively and WoW Insider archives… or at least broke all the links going to them… At least we still have the Internet Archive
- Reddit does make blogs feel redundant unless you are a fan of long form
Anyway, that is what I have in my brain here at the end of 2016. I am sure I left a lot out, so feel free to add anything you feel needs a mention in the comments.
A new year approaches, which at least implies two more of my yearly posts are yet to come, my outlook for 2017 and the inevitable New Years Day predictions post.
Others looking back at 2016: