As we did in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, right now I’m going to recap our annual awards and different meta articles from the top of 2019. We gave out 19 formal awards this previous yr, plus our separate MMO music awards, all along with dozens of different recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. Our workforce thinks I’m nuts, however annually we’ve carried out this, it’s been larger than the final. Muahaha! Plus, take a look at the beautiful art work Larry’s carried out for our awards for the final 5 years! Mo was even joined by the Indignant Crab this spherical.
Following our deep-dive into our awards and the hooked up reader polls, I’ll be recapping all the end-year articles in a single handy place in case you missed one thing over the vacations. Take pleasure in!
MMO of the 12 months: Elder Scrolls Online (2019), Final Fantasy XIV (2018), Elder Scrolls Online (2017), Black Desert (2016), Final Fantasy XIV (2015), Nothing (2014), Final Fantasy XIV (2013), Guild Wars 2 (2012), Star Wars The Old Republic (2011), Global Agenda (2010), Fallen Earth & Dungeons & Dragons (2009)
Group Ballot: Elder Scrolls Online (2019), Final Fantasy XIV (2018), Elder Scrolls Online (2017) Elder Scrolls Online (2016), Elder Scrolls Online & Trove (2015), Nothing (2014), Star Trek Online (2010), Runes of Magic (2009)
Years in the past, we shifted to together with current MMOs for our GOTY award, not simply brand-new ones, which means that older MMOs that sustain a excessive degree of updates are within the working for this award. That tends to imply one among a small crop of high MMORPGs wins this award yearly, and certainly, this yr, Elder Scrolls On-line took the crown for the second time in three years. Each the writers and readers cited the sport’s high-quality, assist of its playerbase, and constant rollout of large-scale content material as causes for placing it on high as soon as once more.
Greatest Enlargement/Replace: Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers (2019), Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset (2018), Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire (2017), World of Warcraft Legion (2016), Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns (2015), Guild Wars 2 April Feature Pack (2014), Guild Wars 2 Super Adventure Box (2013), RIFT Storm Legion (2012), Lord of the Rings Online Rise of Isengard (2011)
Group Ballot: Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers (2019), Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset (2018), Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire (2017), World of Warcraft Legion (2016), Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns (2015), World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor (2014), World of Warcraft Cataclysm (2010)
Trying again, I’m shook that Closing Fantasy XIV has by no means received the very best growth award till now, however rattling, if there was ever a second for it, Shadowbringers was it. XIV’s magnum opus generated accolades from all corners of the gaming trade, so it’s no shock that even individuals who don’t play XIV would however vote for its epic story as the very best of the style this yr.
Most Anticipated: Book of Travels and Torchlight Frontiers (2019), Torchlight Frontiers (2018), Crowfall (2017), Star Citizen (2016), Star Citizen (2015), EverQuest Next/Landmark (2014), EverQuest Next (2013), WildStar (2012), Guild Wars 2 & WildStar (2011), Star Wars The Old Republic (2010), All Points Bulletin (2009)
Group Ballot: Pantheon (2019), Pantheon (2018), Crowfall & Shroud of the Avatar (2017), Camelot Unchained (2016), Star Citizen (2015), Camelot Unchained & Shroud of the Avatar (2014), Star Wars The Old Republic & Project Titan (2010), Star Trek Online (2009)
Torchlight Frontiers is again for a second yr on the high of this award, although this yr it has to share the title with the tremendous bizarre indie sport that wowed everybody on Kickstarter this yr, Ebook of Travels, although there have been dozens of different MMOs in rivalry, from AIR and Ship of Heroes to Star Citizen and Crowfall – to not point out Zenith, New World, and Magic Legends. Pantheon’s group as soon as once more ensured the sport’s crest within the reader polls, and because the sport can be on our quick checklist, we’re not even mad.
Studio of the 12 months: Grinding Gear Games (2019), Grinding Gear Games (2018), ZeniMax & Square-Enix (2017), ZeniMax (2016), Square-Enix (2015), SOE (2014), SOE (2013), SOE & ArenaNet (2012), SOE (2010), Turbine & Fallen Earth LLC (2009)
Group Ballot: Square Enix and Cloud Imperium (2019), Standing Stone Games (2018), ZeniMax & Square-Enix (2017), ZeniMax (2016), City State Entertainment (2015), Cloud Imperium (2015), Blizzard (2010), Frogster (2009)
Path of Exile studio Grinding Gear Video games as soon as once more took our workers’s award right here because of its constant updates, still-classy enterprise mannequin, and unwavering communication. Sq. Enix topped our reader ballot, together with Cloud Imperium, whose customers gave it a hefty increase within the ultimate hours of the ballot.
This award can really feel like a back-handed praise, however on this case, we actually needed to honor Black Desert’s clear concentrate on constructing up the PC sport whereas constructing out its presence on cellular, Xbox One, and PS4. No different MMO got here near increasing and bettering as a lot as BDO this yr. The reader vote was rather more break up, with Closing Fantasy XIV and No Man’s Sky coming in for a near-tie on the high.
As we famous in our submit, this explicit class was the toughest one to settle out for our workforce this yr, as some writers have been as vehemently in favor of some video games as others have been in opposition to them, and all with legitimate causes. In the end, we determined to no-consensus the award for this yr given the polarized workers, arguing that it’s unhappy that we’re caught debating, as Colin put it, “which evils we’re prepared to place up with.” Our readers didn’t appear significantly enthused about anybody sport both; Elder Scrolls On-line and Closing Fantasy XIV have been on the high of the polls as they closed, however with solely small percentages of the general vote.
Most Underrated: Lord of the Rings Online (2019), Lord of the Rings Online & MapleStory 2 (2018), Black Desert & Secret World Legends (2017), Final Fantasy XIV (2016), Trove (2015), Elite Dangerous (2014), Neverwinter (2013), The Secret World (2012)
Lord of the Rings Online as soon as once more took our award for many underrated MMO, the second yr in a row a a lot older title has worn the crown, this yr due largely to the sport’s Minas Morgul expansion. Our readers agreed with us and put LOTRO on high, with DDO not far behind.
Story of the 12 months: The Blizzard boycotts (2019), The Daybreak Columbus Nova Saga (2018), The Lockbox Debate (2017), The Death of EverQuest Next (2016), Daybreak’s Drama (2015), ArcheAge’s Drama (2014), EverQuest Next’s Reveal (2013), 38 Studios’ Doom (2012), Monoclegate (2011), Blizzard’s Real ID Fiasco (2010)
Group Ballot: The Blizzard boycotts and Hong Kong mess (2019), The Daybreak Columbus Nova Saga (2018), The Lockbox Debate (2017), The Death of EverQuest Next (2016), Daybreak’s Drama (2015), ArcheAge’s Drama (2014)
We have now 5 awards that target subjects somewhat than particular video games, and since we’d somewhat one story not win all the pieces, we attempt to unfold them round. Largest MMO story of the yr was a troublesome one, particularly in a yr when Metropolis of Heroes was revivified, however general we agreed that the Blizzard state of affairs – particularly, the truth that there was a spontaneous worldwide boycott of the corporate following its mishandling of the Hong Kong fiasco – topped the checklist.
For the third yr in a row, Star Citizen as soon as once more took this award, although it’s been compelled the share the title with Fallout 76 since, you recognize, we will’t have good issues. As we’ve famous the previous three years, a sport already promoting pixel starships, automobiles, and land claims has a enterprise mannequin whether or not or not it’s formally launched, whether or not or not we really like and hope properly for the sport (and embody it on our most anticipated checklist, for that matter). Fallout 76’s absolute nonsense Fallout First fiasco introduced it to the highest of the pile as properly. Our readers agreed on Star Citizen, by quite a bit, although Fallout 76 got here in a powerful second place.
Greatest Pattern: The Rise of Rogue Servers (2019), Progression Servers (2018), Focus on Communities (2017), Content Scaling (2016) Resurgence of Expansions (2015), Sandbox Gameplay (2014), Sandbox Gameplay (2013); Greatest Innovation: SOEmote (2012)
Metropolis of Heroes’ resurrection this yr as soon as once more helped encourage this award. As we argued, emulators and rogue servers aren’t new in any respect; the brand new pattern is the general shift in MMO avid gamers’ opinion on emus and unauthorized servers as MMOs proceed to sundown, studios proceed to exploit the previous with legacy servers, and sport preservation has been centered in our consciousness. Our readers agreed, although simply as final yr, the sluggish loss of life of lootboxes scored loads of votes too.
Greatest Not-So-Massively Recreation: No Man’s Sky (2019), Warframe (2018), Warframe (2017), Overwatch (2016), ARK Survival Evolved (2015), Hearthstone (2014), Path of Exile (2013), PlanetSide 2 (2012); Greatest Cellular MMO: Arcane Legends (2012)
The award goes to MOBAs, on-line dungeon crawlers, ARPGs, on-line shooters, survival sandboxes, battle royales, and different video games that tread into MMO territory however aren’t full MMORPGs – in different phrases, video games we cowl that orbit the MMO style however aren’t full MMORPGs (and due to this fact aren’t eligible for lots of the awards we give). However lots of the winners on this class through the years are video games that because of growth are actually thought-about MMOs and could be extra in rivalry for MMO awards subsequent time, and No Man’s Sky, this yr’s winner, is amongst them.
“[NMS’] Past replace added full avatar and ship multiplayer to the sport, and remodeled the Anomaly ship into an enormous multidimensional hub the place gamers from throughout the digital cosmos can meet, do missions collectively, and even go to one another’s bases,” MOP’s Brendan argued. “Gamers can now be part of teams and go on missions collectively, and there’s even a weekly mission now that sends everybody to the identical planet by means of a stargate-style portal. Gamers go away clues for one another in message buoys and beacons to assist them discover mission-critical assets, race to catalogue all the native natural world, and even chase one another across the planet and interact in firefights. Past was a complete overhaul of the sport.”
Our readers deemed each NMS and Path of Exile the winners.
This award is meant to honor a smaller sport that’d by no means have an actual probability on the large awards, and so it’s no shock that Undertaking Gorgon received once more, given its weird sandboxy worldbuilding and tiny workers. I used to be personally elated, nonetheless, that Villagers & Heroes additionally obtained a nod within the tie in addition to within the reader ballot, because it pumped out a very huge quantity of content material this yr.
In earlier years, this award was normally referred to as “Most More likely to Flop,” however in 2018 we determined to alter it up, each as a result of we felt it was too imply and since we thought “flop” was manner too ambiguous, after which in 2019 we additionally determined to incorporate entire studios and never simply particular person video games, largely as a result of the overwhelming winner was shaping as much as be the whole thing of Dawn somewhat than one among its titles. As at all times, we notice that this isn’t actually a enjoyable award to present; it’s meant as a sign of great concern that everybody’s nervous about the way in which Dawn’s 2019 went and we’re desperately hoping 2020 is healthier. Dawn additionally took the reader ballot, which looks like a fair worse signal.
This was a surprisingly contentious award for the workers, as a number of individuals argued that Elder Scrolls On-line’s housing was rather more pointless and costly than previous winners’ choices. However, it scored probably the most votes. Our readers, fortunately, gave their nod to the superb housing of sandbox Wurm On-line.
Echoing our reader vote final yr, our workers this spherical pegged each FFXIV and Elder Scrolls On-line for the respect of finest crafting, whereas the readers settled on XIV alone. We’ll notice that if sunsetted MMOs and rogue servers have been allowed into this vote, the outcomes could be very totally different certainly – a suspicion backed up by the truth that an unnamed lifeless sport got here in second with the readers. You already know the one, although.
Largest Disappointment: The Cancellation of Peria Chronicles and the Decline of Guild Wars 2 (2019), Industry Employment Scandals (2018), The Sad Death of Marvel Heroes (2017), EverQuest Next & No Man’s Sky (2016), World of Warcraft (2015), WildStar & ArcheAge (2014), DUST 514 (2013), City of Heroes’ Sunset (2012), Star Wars Galaxies’ Sunset (2011), Aion (2009)
Group Ballot: The Decline of Guild Wars 2 (2019), Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal Mess (2018), The Sad Death of Marvel Heroes (2017), EverQuest Next (2016), EverQuest Next’s Silence (2015), WildStar & ArcheAge (2014), Final Fantasy XIV (2010), Aion (2009)
Two particular tales upset our workers probably the most this yr: Nexon’s random and pointless cancellation of Peria Chronicles, an MMO many people have been trying ahead to, and the obvious decline of ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 over the course of the yr following a number of sport cancellations and layoffs. Our readers apparently cared much less about Peria and extra about Guild Wars 2, nonetheless a much-beloved MMO round right here. If solely NCsoft would pay attention.
Largest Blunder: Blizzard’s Bliztchung Fiasco (2019), Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal Bungle (2018), CCP’s VR Pullout & EVE Layoffs (2017), The VR Obsession (2016), Star Citizen Melodrama (2015), Dev Hubris – Multiple Games (2014), Elder Scrolls Online’s & WildStar’s Sub Models (2013)
Group Ballot: Blizzard’s Bliztchung Fiasco (2019), Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal Bungle (2018), The Death of Marvel Heroes (2017), EverQuest Next’s Cancellation (2016), Everything ArcheAge (2015), WildStar’s Endgame & ArcheAge’s Launch (2014)
Whereas the Blizzard boycotts took our story of the yr award, we gave greatest blunder to Blizzard as soon as once more, this time for the choice that led to these boycotts: particularly, Blizzard’s determination punish an esports star over his assist for Hong Kong dwelling rule to be able to pacify Chinese language authoritarian counterparts. “Over the course of October and November, Blizzard had a number of alternatives to restore that blunder, however as an alternative it doubled down on it, banning extra gamers, quashing occasions, and delivering a nonpology at BlizzCon,” we wrote, expressing horror and unhappiness for the studio’s popularity plummet. On this one, our readers clearly agreed.
Group Ballot: Elder Scrolls Online’s kill-dragons-to-help-cats campaign (2019), Elder Scrolls Online’s Fall Freebies (2018), Lord of the Rings Online (2017), The Elder Scrolls Online (2016)
I’m so happy we have been capable of honor AdventureQuest 3D this yr, particularly for its weird however entertaining in-game Korn and Alice in Chains live performance occasions. Our reader ballot had a stronger exhibiting, nonetheless, for Elder Scrolls On-line and its cat-rescue marketing campaign.
In 2018, we retired our greatest PvP award, changing it with greatest shock, which this yr went to the resurrection of Metropolis of Heroes, each from our workers and from our readers in absolute landslides. No one noticed this coming in any respect, and we’re so grateful we might play a task in it.
And that’s a wrap on our awards for 2019! For these of you who missed different particular content material over the vacations, we’ve rounded up all our music awards, our blooper awards (now generally known as the Golden Yachties), our weirdest story series, end-year content material from a few of our feature columns, our monthly news recaps, our staff roundtables, and our favorite top tens proper down beneath. If you happen to’re strapped for time, undoubtedly hit the Schlag meme of the year, biggest stories checklist, biggest surprises checklist, healthiest MMOs checklist, best updates checklist, our predictions for next year, all of the MMOs we’re watching in 2020 (not up but), and the best-value MMOs firstly of 2020 (up later in January)!