Massively's MMO predictions for 2012: Justin Olivetti

Justin OlivettiIt's no fun playing it safe and predictable, so here are my wild and crazy predictions for next year!

The Secret World will come out of (mostly) nowhere to become a monster smash hit of the year. Funcom will redeem itself with its storytelling, skill-based character system, and the conspiracy-horror modern setting. Also, it will launch with a free-to-play option on par with what Age of Conan does with its F2P.

We will see a massive shift away from fantasy to different genres, as MMO players have become burned out on fantasy tropes and more studios release sci-fi, contemporary, horror, and post-apocalyptic worlds.

Sandbox lovers will get one indie title that will surpass expectations and become a sleeper hit among the community. Even so, major studios will shy away from pure sandbox MMOs leaving smaller, gutsier start-ups to pick up the ball.

ArenaNet will abruptly announce Guild Wars 2's launch with little warning, leaving the community to scramble to pre-order and geek out. The game will triumph and will usher in a second golden age of MMO gaming.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will bomb and alienate large quantities of the playerbase, who will then flee for Star Wars: Mists of Rancoria.

Expansions will become extinct while studios will try to outdo each other with rapid, meaningful updates. In a gutsy move, Trion Worlds will start paying gamers to play RIFT as part of a new marketing promotion.

Warhammer Online will shut down entirely to be replaced by Wrath of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot will go free-to-play, and Mythic will announce that it is working on DAoC 2.

Want more staff predictions for 2012? Pick a writer below:

Beau Hindman | Bree Royce | Brendan Drain | Eliot Lefebvre | Jef Reahard | Jeremy Stratton | Justin Olivetti | Shawn Schuster