Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: MMO Studio of the Year

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the best MMO studio of the year.

Last year’s award was won by SOE, you’ll recall, a choice that seems almost quaint from here at the end of 2015. We asked our writers to consider major MMO studios in 2015, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did this year specifically.

All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMO Studio of of 2015 is…

Square-Enix

beststudio

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): CCP Games. Not only is this probably the first year in a long time that CCP hasn’t had a major scandal to deal with, but they’ve really been listening to players this year and focusing hard on EVE Online. At the same time, they’ve positioned themselves as a major player in the launch of VR tech with EVE Gunjack and EVE Valkyrie and managed to attract investment specifically for VR. It shows that CCP can develop other games without ditching the existing EVE players. We also saw CCP officially sell off White Wolf and all the World of Darkness materials to another company rather than sitting on the IP as an asset like some developers would.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Gazillion. The amount of love it pours into Marvel Heroes, the constant updates, the weekly events, and the community feedback on characters and costumes that make it into the game in no time? Even when I’m not playing MH, I am in awe of the life Gazillion injects into the game and the way it’s managed to avoid the mistakes a lot of larger studios make. I also think that City State Entertainment, while it has yet to complete Camelot Unchained, is setting a new bar for communication and player involvement that inspires loyalty across the board. Hat tip to Square-Enix as well for its classy handling of Final Fantasy XI’s autumn days.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Truth time: I do not like Marvel Heroes and probably never will. I was also super tempted to give the nod here to Square-Enix, but I think Gazillion has done a great job keeping its game humming along, keeping players interested, and keeping people happy. For a game I don’t like very much, that deserves a nod and some respect.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): Cloud Imperium has weathered a storm of low-information bullshit all year, both from internet trolls and developers who moonlight as internet trolls. And oh yeah, the company continues to develop what is inarguably the most ambitious video game of all time in terms of features, functionality, and fidelity. Honorable mention to City State. Even though Camelot Unchained isn’t out yet, someone should write a this-is-how-you-run-an-MMO-community book and just list everything Jacobs and company have done thus far.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Trion Worlds. Yes, any mention of Trion is going to incur the wrath of the ArcheAge crowd, but even there I thought the studio had better communication and CM talent. And it did some great things this year, with Trove’s successful launch, RIFT’s meaty updates, and the acquisition of Devilian. People, it’s actually a fun game! Also Square-Enix. I am not on board the Final Fantasy train, but I deeply admire how committed and serious Square-Enix is in making FFXIV shine. The studio also gets points for giving FFXI a grand send-off and keeping it in maintenance mode.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I think I will have to give this one to Square-Enix. I don’t play a Square-Enix game. I am not a fan, but when a studio continues to get praise from its players long after the expansion is launched, it’s done something right.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Studio Wildcard. I am impressed with how this studio is on the ball, actively developing the game. Issues come up, but they are quickly addressed. And I do mean quickly! I didn’t think I would ever wish a studio to patch less frequently sometimes, but I almost did here once or twice.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): ArenaNet, most definitely. Apologies for my answers seeming samey at this point, but I couldn’t possibly say anyone else. I was pretty teary when I watched the expansion launch livestream because I could feel just how much of themselves the team members had placed into HoT’s development. It’s an absolute pleasure talking to the team members for interviews and the like, and I’ve been given several opportunities to just kick back and play beta content with the devs this year too. Any dev team that makes themed toast during livestreams is A-OK in my book!

Square-Enix won our pick for best MMO studio of the year. What’s your pick?

What was the best studio of 2015?

  • Square-Enix (8%, 232 Votes)
  • Gazillion (2%, 58 Votes)
  • City State Entertainment (6%, 194 Votes)
  • CCP Games (2%, 48 Votes)
  • Cloud Imperium (44%, 1,351 Votes)
  • Trion Worlds (1%, 38 Votes)
  • Studio Wildcard (16%, 479 Votes)
  • ArenaNet (4%, 119 Votes)
  • Daybreak (0%, 9 Votes)
  • BioWare (2%, 53 Votes)
  • Blizzard (3%, 79 Votes)
  • PWE & Cryptic (1%, 17 Votes)
  • Bethesda & ZeniMax (5%, 163 Votes)
  • ArtCraft Entertainment (0%, 13 Votes)
  • Turbine (1%, 24 Votes)
  • Carbine Studios (1%, 34 Votes)
  • NCsoft (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Funcom (2%, 54 Votes)
  • Jagex (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Portalarium (0%, 10 Votes)
  • Frontier (1%, 33 Votes)
  • Bluehole & En Masse (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Something else -- tell us in the comments! (1%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,080

Loading ... Loading ...
Poll options include all studios nominated plus other notable MMO studios.

ALL OUR 2015 AWARDS (SO FAR)
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229 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: MMO Studio of the Year"

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DavidRennie
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DavidRennie

Cotic_OP DavidRennie Haha, I see. Yes, when you point it out, it makes more sense now. However there were seemingly very serious comments of the same sort earlier in the comments, so I assumed yours was too. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

emarat
Guest
emarat

I personally feel The Fun Pimps have done an amazing job with such a
small development team size like they have. Their game 7 Days To die is
one of the most fun Early Access games that i have ever played. Yes they
are slow with new major updates but they craft them very well, bring a
lot of needed changes, fixes and new content plus every large major
patch has been a complete new game that almost feels like a sequel.
Which breathes always new life into the game. The developers also
want to make the game as easily moddable as possible which they are
accomplishing by opening up a lot of what is under the hood through XML
files, and believe me it is very easy to mod 7 Days to Die.

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

DavidRennie 
A comment so outlandish that it really should not be taken seriously and yet people do take it seriously, I’m just having a laugh at the irrationality of the whole situation.

You wouldn’t watch Monty Python and call them haters or conspiracy theorists would you?

Carnage2K4
Guest
Carnage2K4

Would like to know WHY Square-Enix is Massively OP’s choice… I fail to see why they deserve it with the little explanation given, most of the writers said they didn’t even play FF…

Cloud Imperium for me, they put out so much information for followers it’s overwhelming sometimes…
Wildcard 2nd.

KorbenDallas
Guest
KorbenDallas

rioinsignia breetoplay Cotic_OPMJ Guthrierioinsigniabreetoplay  I read MOP most everyday, not a big poster but I like what they represent so I backed them when it came time……so not the only reason some are here

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

I’ll get shit for this, of course, but I voted for Cloud Imperium, and my reasons are much the same as Jef’s. I don’t expect SC to be the flawless “game to end all games”, but they’re trying to do something ambitious, and trying to deliver more than the same old stuff the same old way — that earns my respect.

My runner-up would be Gazillion for Marvel Heroes — they treat their players so very well, on an ongoing basis.

DavidRennie
Guest
DavidRennie

But we don’t know that. I originally came to the site for SC related content. I stuck around because it seemed like a good site with neutral or positive reviews and had interesting content. Maybe others will too. Maybe not. But we can’t know unless MOP releases their user statistics showing an increase (or not) of activity.

DavidRennie
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DavidRennie

I’m not sure i understand what you mean. Maube i’m just being dense. But i am tired.

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

MJ Guthrie rioinsignia breetoplay 
They’re not checking anything out though are they. The only reason they’re here is to pad a poll and then they won’t be back again unless it’s for another poll.

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

DavidRennie 
It’s called taking the piss. Your romcom humour is clearly different that our sarcastic humour.

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

cshort65 Cotic_OP rioinsignia agemyth Mifune 
There’s meaningful engagement and then there’s poll padding just for marketing means.
The former I fully support, the latter can gtfo.

DavidRennie
Guest
DavidRennie

To be fair, i have seen what he’s talking about.
But normally when SC fans jump on a discussion board and start saying things like ‘learn about the project a bit before you form an opinion,’ (as if everyone should be expected to know about every detail), it is in response to some horrible misconception about the game being presented as fact.
You know, the same things said again and again on site after site. The same falso info that you try to correct, but no one seems to believe you. Despite the fact that they believe the company is out of money on the word of a direct competitor who has an obvious jealousy if CR.
So sometimes we get a bit agressive on other sites. It doesn’t help our cause. But i’m pretty sure that’s Manzes’ plan anyways. He’s usually one of the first to post negative comments on anything SC related… (often on a sockpuppet account). And he uses our counter attacks as proof that he’s right and we’re all just a cult.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

LordSolarMacharius rioinsignia Scion Totally disagree.  The SC haters are the problem.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

rioinsignia breetoplay Why would we discount the votes of new readers to the site, when having new people come checking things out is exactly what we want?

cshort65
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cshort65

Mifune cshort65 and lets be honest… I have kinda been fed up with blizzard since diablo 3 :P

cshort65
Guest
cshort65

Mifune cshort65 lol I missreplied actually, I just woke up and went to check my emails and saw a bunch of replies haha. you were the more reasonable one, it was that other dude who was raging I was annoyed with

Mifune
Guest
Mifune

cshort65 I never said CIG rigged it. I said I was against the brigading. As you can see it’s only the CIG marketing team that did it and the poll result is somewhat of a farse. I saw another similar website host another open poll and SC fans did the exact same thing. Hey maybe I’m wrong and CIG is actually 25 times better than Blizzard and 5 times better than Studio Wildcard :)

cshort65
Guest
cshort65

Mifune rioinsignia I think the point is that just about every mistake CIG has made (yes they have made many) are mistakes that ANY company making a game could and often do make. So why should I point them out any more than any other company? instead wouldn’t it make sense to talk about the things they do differently, good or bad? sure have an argument about if the way they fund is good (I think its great idea, anyone “buying” a ship KNOWS they are funding the game and not buying a ship), or talk about the level of interaction the community and devs have (which some here seem to think is a bad thing for some reason)… but none of the arguments I have seen have been about valid points. All the criticism so far has been angry sword rattling and other crap. All I’ve seen so far is “CIG RIGGED IT BECAUSE THEIR FANS LOVE THE COMPANY AND ARE CORPORATE SLAVES”, which is even more silly considering the crowd funded nature of the game hahaha.

cshort65
Guest
cshort65

LordSolarMacharius rioinsignia Cotic_OP Mifune cry more that no one likes your favorite game company. the only way anyone could “rig” this was if they had access to the back end of the website and fudged the results… otherwise you have no right in complaining about the results of AN OPEN POLL. you have no idea how many people from the CIG community actually read massivelyOP or how many would have voted anyways without encouragement from the community team. as a matter of fact I didn’t even KNOW about his post until I read it in the comments. so stop bitching like a child and grow a pair

cshort65
Guest
cshort65

Cotic_OP rioinsignia agemyth Mifune basically all I’ve heard from you so far was “i don’t like that their community is more engaged than other developers, its not fair that other community members don’t care about the developer as much as CIG fanboys do and as such, I think its not fair that they win a poll about how much the community cares about their developer”… wait…

StranaFA
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StranaFA

I think Allods/Obsidion should have made list for Skyforge.

Mifune
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Mifune

DavidRennie Well the reason it’s open is to bring more people to the site. The sad thing is that the poll has absolutely nothing to do with any form of meritocracy.

I have a feeling MOP will have a lot more SC related articles from now on (which I’m fine with as long as other games don’t get neglected).

DavidRennie
Guest
DavidRennie

Isn’t that the point though? Unless MOP wanted the poll to only reflect MOP subscriber opinions, but then the poll would have to require a valid login. Since it doesn’t, we have to assume it’s open to everyone and everyone is encouraged to vote (once).

Shinfreyr
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Shinfreyr

RSI (Star Citizen)

Mifune
Guest
Mifune

Krogs Then the one with the more numbers will win. What’s the point of that?

Krogs
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Krogs

paragonlostinspace SteveJackn111 But.. how? The community manager asked the fans to vote on twitter. The other studios are free to do the same. Isn’t the winnder supposed to be decided by the game community? :s

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Nice to see that rocking the vote works so well.

RealmHerald
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RealmHerald

paragonlostinspace RealmHerald Darkdrakke I would like to think because they are Kickstarters,  they are also passion projects.   Get a passionate studio head and you see these types of responses.

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

RealmHerald paragonlostinspace Darkdrakke  My hope that this is a change that will catch on and other studios will start operating like this. Pipe dream I know but one can hope.

RealmHerald
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RealmHerald

Kanbe I would love to see Turbine come back!!!!    Asheron’s Call 3!!!!

RealmHerald
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RealmHerald

paragonlostinspace Darkdrakke I agree Paragon.  Its nice to see the current new studios caring so much for the community.     

Looking forward for more and more great Studios.

Scion
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Scion

Cotic_OP *tinfoil hat intensifies*

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

SteveJackn111 Because they aren’t normally readers, it does come off like there is poll manipulating going on. I’d have voted for Cloud Imperium myself if I could have vote for two different studies. Since I think they and City State are showing other mmo developers how they should behave. That said the fans of SC dirty the reputation when they pull crap like this off.

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Darkdrakke

“So I voted Cloud imperium games..why?  No other studio IMO goes out of their way to invite the fans into their day to day lives, and pull the curtain back to let the fans see whats going on.”  – Darkdrakke

 No other?  I beg to differ, Cloud Imperium and City State “both” have been a wonderful breath of fresh air in that regard. Seriously, I get your point but be careful with hyperbolic statements because they hamper your wonderful points. :)

DavidRennie
Guest
DavidRennie

Haters are getting more and more paranoid it seems. Paying for vpns? Seriously? Or maybe… just maybe… we like the studio and a lot of us also follow MOP? Plus we talk together a lot. When one person posts a link to this poll, a bunch of us come to vote.

rioinsignia
Guest
rioinsignia

Darkdrakke Whilst I do like to hold onto the traditional definition of MMORPG, I get the feeling that is like pissing in the wind.  The MMO industry seems to think otherwise.

Rumm
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Rumm

Darkdrakke Rumm Look at the vote results right now. Do you really think that is right? You really don’t see any issue with it?

Darkdrakke
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Darkdrakke

So I voted Cloud imperium games..why?  No other studio IMO goes out of their way to invite the fans into their day to day lives, and pull the curtain back to let the fans see whats going on. They do posts 7 days a week, 365 a year for  3 years….3 years now. they do 2 to 3 30 to 45 min videos with interviews and Answer fan posted questions every week. They have  livestreamed every Friday w the community team and ans questions live in real time. None of the other companies listed here go anywhere near this level of bringing in their communities into the day to day lives of the devs..no one. We know the names of some the devs wives, what days they have been sick, some of their friggin medical issues..That how open and candid they are, they reg screenshot their homes, what they bought that week what they ate for lunch..its actually too much information IMO.

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

Rumm and if many of those people are members of both? You have no way of knowing so no way to screen people really..it the end just put your vote in here so it can individually be heard.

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

Cotic_OP LordSolarMacharius here’s the thing this poll / vote means so little to most of those companies that they haven’t bothered to get their communities to vote…shows what they think of this Poll and maybe their communities…telling isn’t it.

Darkdrakke
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Darkdrakke

Cotic_OP rioinsignia agemyth Mifune if that were true it wouldn’t be an Open Poll anyone can vote on?  your not making any sense their Willis……

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

Cotic_OP agemyth Mifune which means they aren’t doing their Jobs right? Right I mean that what a community manager is supposed to do right? Get the community together..and in other stories Weather man tells people the …weather!

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

Kheran I know right? Its crazy!

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

LordSolarMacharius rioinsignia Scion Troll harder, its not working…><

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

LordSolarMacharius Krogs kalamarison the original amount ( 2 million ) was not the final budget it was just the amount they needed to get to for Private investors to give them the rest (around 20 to 24 million) for that amount we were getting a Wing Commander style game with 30 missions and basically Just the World of Warplanes style Arena commander. NO MMO, NO FPS Mode, ( No mark Hamill , gillian anderson, and only 5 ships to start.)  outside of ship boarding and a “tiny’ universe. they blew past that amount realized they didn’t have to wait a few years and went balls deep attempting to deliver the Full vision which was supposed to take something like another 5 years and another kickstarter to make.

Darkdrakke
Guest
Darkdrakke

Gibbins rioinsignia 100 people isn’t Massive it makes it a Online Game , similar to RUST and that’s not a MMO. If the category was best Online Game Company now your talking.

xania
Guest
xania

Ugh, not Square Enix. Never them. There’s a reason all but one of the SE votes is “well, I don’t play online FFs but I hear good things…” 

Ever since FFXI – ever since forever, possibly, but my experience starts there – they’ve been masterful at maintaining a reputation of never going too far to get a true pushback, but always toeing the asshole line as much as possible. It wasn’t until they had their heads so far up their ass they miscalculated how much bullshit people would eat and fucked up FFXIV 1.0 that they started caring about what people actually want, rather than what they tell you you’re getting.
They were nice and attentive and oh so sorry when 1.0 blew up and they *needed* people to trust them again, but as soon as 2.0 won people’s hearts back they started edging towards that asshole line again. Even if I believed Yoshi-P was truly doing everything he believed the community wants, it’s obvious SE the company will find a way to exploit the goodwill he brought. 
They wont ever do anything as obviously bad as, say, the Payday 2 scandal that happened recently, they’re far too smart for that. They’re the kind of company who would never sell direct power ups in the cash shop. But they would sell exclusive and popular items for outrageous prices while still charging a monthly sub and then not even putting all that money back into the game’s development. Oh wait that already happened.

…Oh, everyone else is being bitter about the poll results? Woops, looks like I missed the salt pile. My bad.

rioinsignia
Guest
rioinsignia

SteveJackn111 I think they’ve had their moments, but also they’ve sometimes made a proverbial rod for their own backs in regards to the estimations on alpha launches in the first half of the year.  Thankfully the second half has been better in terms of communication and tangible evidence of progression.

rioinsignia
Guest
rioinsignia

Mifune rioinsignia  Lol.  Just because I haven’t listed my grievances in here, doesn’t mean I have not been critical of them.  If you think otherwise, then you’re jumping to the wrong conclusions based on inconclusive evidence.
Also, I never said that arguments around SC are mostly due to people being misinformed at all.  Some arguments are, in my opinion, quite valid, whilst others are just plain trolling.  and I’m not just talking about in this very comment section.  Again you are attempting to put words into my mouth.
As anyone who has seen me post and is being honest will tell you, I acknowledge that opinions can and will often differ.  And I fully respect those opinions that are not just obvious trolling attempts.  Your own comments are excluded from that remark btw (just in case you think I’m implying anything)   ;)
And that’s why I respect your opinion on this matter.

Cotic_OP
Guest
Cotic_OP

No one else gives a shit. Meanwhile wallet warriors from Sims In Space are using all manner of proxies, paying for multiple vpns etc becaise of they need to defend the horrendous amounts of money they’ve thrown away and what better way than to artifically inflate a poll that has already been awarded its winner….
All in the name of “muh e-peen”.

wpDiscuz