As I, personally, hide inside from the day star trying to turn me into ash because I hate summer, I’ve decided to take a look back at the biggest news stories of 2018 up to this point. As the guy whose job is to specifically follow said news, I think it’s high time I join in on the whole retrospective at the middle of the year thing that likes to happen on this site around this time.
Everyone Goes Battle Royale Crazy
Though H1Z1 was, arguably, the game that started the fire, PUBG was Prometheus stealing that fire and handing it out to the entirety of multiplayer gaming. The greatest of these games has certainly been Fortnite, which had an explosive debut late 2017 and whose stock just keeps on rising even to this day.
In between the tug-of-war between PUBG and Fortnite – which has included mobile releases and no shortage of courtroom drama – other games decided to leap on the freshly-built bandwagon. From Trove to Paladins, Dota 2 to Battlerite, we saw the sub-genre erupt in standalone games and modes.
Of course, it didn’t all end in smiles; case in point, Radical Heights, whose underwhelming performance combined with the faltering of team-based FPS LawBreakers joined forces to see Boss Key Productions shut down.
Daybreak Games Tries to Rewrite History
For about two weeks in April, the MMO world bore witness to easily one of the most confounding events. The Russian oligarch owner of company Columbus Nova, which was communicated for a long time to be the owners of MMO publisher Daybreak Games, was found to be part of an investigation by the FBI into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. That would be staggering enough, but Daybreak’s response was even weirder, saying in statements that Columbus Nova was never an owner of Daybreak and merely forgot to update press releases and communications.
Thus began an avalanche of developments. Numerous layoffs overtook the company, H1Z1’s arrival on PS4 almost appeared to be in jeopardy, and connections to the greater political story appeared to tighten further. There were even rumors that Intrepid Studios would buy up Daybreak – rumors that, so far, have borne no fruit.
For now, Daybreak Games’ strategy of keeping its head down and waiting for things to blow over appears to have worked and the MMOs under the publisher’s umbrella look to be pretty much safe. Still, it has wounded trust in the company. In myself, at least.
Loot Boxes in the News
While pushback against loot box practices were definitely part of a lot of 2017, 2018 saw a pretty big number of advancements in favor of those who call loot boxes gambling. It started in February when Sweden and Germany began to join other countries in investigating whether the monetization scheme violated existing gambling rules, while Hawaii’s Chris Lee continued his own crusade.
Later, the Dutch gaming authority ruled that loot boxes are gambling and Belgium drew a line in the sand. The gains against loot boxes didn’t end there; pressure from US lawmakers prompted the ESRB to adjust its tune slightly by releasing a label system that flags games with loot boxes.
That said, there’s plenty of folks who still feel that loot boxes aren’t the villainy many see. Notably, the president of the Entertainment Software Association offered his own two cents during a games conference. and Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime has even spoken in favor of the practice.
Esports Growth Marches On
Numerically speaking, esports continues to be big business and that story has certainly been part of 2018. In the interim, at least; it appears that the “normalcy” of esports being a huge thing seems to be par for the course now.
Certainly a lot of that is thanks to things like the Overwatch League, which came storming out of the gate and pressed on to be one of the most popular and most legitimate esporting events since The International.
It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be losing steam despite the assumptions of many that the bubble’s walls are getting thin. One of the largest pushes in the favor of more esports was Epic Games’ massive investment in making Fortnite Battle Royale a competitive event on par with the biggest games in esports. As someone who likes to watch these games way more than play them, I’m definitely all for this growth.
Crowdfunding Games Hold Steady
While Star Citizen’s endlessly ballooning crowdfunding costs still stands as the effigy for which to burn the practice, crowdfunded MMOs have not only held their ground but have seen some very steady advancements. Games like Shroud of the Avatar went live and Albion Online has pressed on after its 2017 launch with new updates and expansion into Steam.
There are also lots of other in-development MMOs that keep on keepin’ on. Among the most notable are Ashes of Creation, Rend, and Crowfall, who have had updates that have heartened my heart as someone who backed a couple of MMOs that ended up not being for me. In addition, new games of interest continue to arrive in the crowdfunding space like creature battler Temtem, whose own Kickstarter has absolutely skyrocketed.
As for the rest of the news, there’s plenty of other stories one can look back at: Destiny 2’s insistence on repeating history; the breathless arrival of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; console MMOs making waves like TERA; the bellyflop (and hopeful recovery) of Bless Online; and sequel MMOs that raise interest like The Division 2 and Defiance 2050. All in all, it’s been a bang-up 2018 and I’m eager to see what’s next.
I’d also love to hear from you. What was one of your biggest news developments in 2018 thus far? Feel free to talk with us about any developments in this wild and wacky multiplayer genre of ours in the comments below. Until then, I hope to see you in the News section of the site.