Let’s look at the year with rose tinted glasses, or perhaps a rose-tinted glass of hard liquor. As with any year, we had a lot of bad and a lot of good, but whether good or bad some of these just had to happen for the good of us all.
1. Goodbye Mythic Entertainment
This one is a bit cruel, but one of the best trends 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, at least in the short term, the notion that this year saw a lot of those practices crash and burn says a lot about the evolution of consumer common sense.
And I can hardly come up with a better example than the final closure of Mythic Entertainment, a company that spent the last years of its life burning whatever remaining bridges it hadn’t yet touched. Yes, this is where I bring up that time Mythic referred to MMO mechanics as “boring crap” while happily revealing that assets from the poorly-launched, severely downsized, and rather quickly abandoned MMO Warhammer Online, had been lifted and used for the developer’s expensive and ultimately failed MOBA Wrath of Heroes.
Add in two mobile games that attempted to exploit classic games to draw in franchise fans only to repulse them with exploitative cash shops, and this is where Mythic is today. Warhammer Online is dead, Wrath of Heroes is dead, Ultima Forever is dead, Dungeon Keeper has fallen in the mobile charts, was critically panned and called a “shame” by EA, and even saw an ad banned for false advertising.
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.