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

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the best MMO trend of 2015.

Last year, we chose sandbox and social gameplay as the awardee in this category. This year, all trends were back on the table. 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 Trend of 2015 is…

The resurgence of MMO expansions

trend

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Open development. The games industry has seen a shift in recent years toward games being developed in the open rather than behind closed doors, and it’s mostly due to crowdfunding taking off as a business model. We have MMOs like Star Citizen and Crowfall now being developed out in the open and developers who are now independent enough to be honest (often brutally honest) about the state of game development. We’re still not used to seeing all the stumbling blocks and delays that are typical of early development on a game or hearing developers views unhindered by a publisher’s PR firewall, but it makes a refreshing change from the way things used to be

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Definitely the return of expansions. Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, the EverQuest franchise, Star Wars: The Old Republic — heck, even Ultima Online got an expansion this year, and EVE Online’s returning to them in 2016. I think 2015 was the year MMO studios realized that the slow trickle update or patch cadence just doesn’t generate the hype that ongoing games need, and that’s meant tons of content in existing games.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Expansions! It’s not universal: EverQuest II moved to the whole “quick-small-DLC” model this year. But a lot of companies have embraced the expansion model, with some even moving back to it after trying the smaller and faster approach (EVE Online springs to mind). I’ve written an entire column about why I feel this is a good thing, though, and I can’t repeat myself in just this space, so the short version is I’m a fan.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): The long overdue sandboxification of the MMO genre is great to see, though we’ve still got a ways to go to recover from 10 years of WoW and WoW-likes. Honorable mention to all of the indie MMO dev teams who continue to give the middle finger to mass market themeparks and attempt to develop the kinds of niche virtual worlds that define and distinguish this genre.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Early access madness. If you really wanted to get into MMOs early in their development cycle, 2015 was your year. In some cases, this meant getting the modern equivelent of a GeoCities construction sign and a “come back later for actual content!” notice. In others, such as H1Z1 and ARK, there was a real game to be played as if it already launched. Also: Expansions. We saw a nice bevy of well-received and exciting expansion releases this year, especially in the latter half. Heavensward, Heart of Thorns, Knights of the Fallen Empire — all did very well and showed that the expansion model has a strong place in MMO development.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): Optional grouping has been a trend in MMOs for awhile now, but the big leaders had a hard time embracing it. Both SWTOR and ESO have embraced content that can be soloed but is much more fun when you have a group of people doing it with you.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): The resurgence of sandboxes (or at the very least, sandboxy features) within the MMO genre. Admittedly, most of the games I’m thinking of (Black Desert, Crowfall, EverQuest Next, Camelot Unchained, etc.) aren’t out yet, but a great deal of recently announced games seem to be trending toward a revival of games that are setting out to construct not just a game, but a deep virtual world.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans): My favourite is the emphasis on action combat that we’ve seen this year. The new action camera in Guild Wars 2 most definitely emphasises the action aspects of its hybrid combat mechanics, I’m super-excited about Blade & Soul’s quirky combat system, and Crowfall’s team has been working on a punishing action combat system too. New MMOs in development seem to love the action buzzword, so I’ll go with that.

The resurgence of MMO expansions won our award for Best Trend of 2015. What’s your pick?

What was the best MMO trend of 2015?

  • The resurgence of MMO expansions (23%, 166 Votes)
  • Open development & early access (20%, 144 Votes)
  • Sandboxification of the genre (24%, 177 Votes)
  • Indie development & niche MMOs (11%, 81 Votes)
  • Optional PvE grouping gameplay (10%, 69 Votes)
  • Action combat (10%, 70 Votes)
  • Something else -- tell us in the comments! (2%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 723

Loading ... Loading ...
ALL OUR 2015 AWARDS (SO FAR)
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

80 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: MMO Trend of the Year"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Jamion
Guest
Jamion

The move towards procedural generated tech and Voxel tech with destructible environments.

alexjwillis
Guest
alexjwillis

Early access for sure from my end. And not a trend I think is necessarily very good, either.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

breetoplay Siphaed 
“skinny jeans”
Phat pants where one of my favorite trends. <3

shadowblender
Guest
shadowblender

mmo trend of this years pay for early access.

Xevious
Guest
Xevious

SallyBowls1 Of course, I just tried to schematize the economic model, It should not be taken literally.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

Xevious  I agree with the sentiment but “smooth gaming experience” and “release” rarely go together in my experience.  You really need to wait until .1 for smooth.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Vexia ManastuUtakata 
To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting MMO’s be entirely void of PvP, as most MMO’s have it. But rather like many games have it so it’s out of site and mind, or at least consensual. Though it appears a lot of sandbox developers don’t get this, or don’t want to get it…
…which is fine, if that’s what they want. But it also means many of us don’t want to play their games. Cutting off a potential revenue source that may elevate them beyond the niche gank market.

Neo_Wolf
Guest
Neo_Wolf

I’m going to go with the increased presence of soloable endgame content.  Something which had sadly been lacking almost entirely before 2015.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

Siphaed breetoplay That sounds a lot like making things for people who have a difference preference than what you like.

vinicitur
Guest
vinicitur

For me the best MMO trend atm is more indie dev teams working on smaller, more focused games. Sorry but I have lost hope that any large AAA company will ever release an excellent game. They always start of with a focused idea and turn their game in to a diluted mess of almost anything and everything to try to attract every player under the sun which makes for just a horrible experience in the long run.

Unfortunately the most prolific trend atm seems to be idiot devs milking fanboys/girls for every penny they have with early access/founders packs. Then leaving their games in alpha/beta limbo so as not to get criticized that it’s just a buggy mess. And yes I’m looking at you Daybreak.

hardy83
Guest
hardy83

BrotherMaynard hardy83 Yes. That is one game. It’s not REALLY an MMO, but I’m going to buy that one for sure.

hardy83
Guest
hardy83

schmidtcapela allionline hardy83 Yeah, I looked at it and said neat, but I HAAAAATE open world PvP.

Xevious
Guest
Xevious

The new awesome trend is the Pay-per-Bug formula. Do you need lots of bugs? Join pre-alpha with our exclusive 200$ Founder Pack. But hey, if you want just few bugs, buy the Beta Key for only 30$. *scratching head* “Excuse me Sir but…” “What? Do you need a smooth gaming experience? Just wait the release, the game will be Free to Play.

molleafauss
Guest
molleafauss

I’ll just say early access, more than “open” development.

BrotherMaynard
Guest
BrotherMaynard

hardy83 Personally, I’m looking forward to this one:

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

allionline hardy83 
The PvP, for me, isn’t just a downside,it’s a deal-breaker. Unfortunately, because everything else in that game looks fantastic.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

breetoplay Siphaed 
Well, I guess you’re right in that Action Combat has gone from “trend” just a few years ago to full fledged innovation status that is the way of the future for MMOs.   There are still games -SotA, for example- that try to cling to the old ways combat for players.  Stuck in the stone age.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

SallyBowls1 Returning to expansions is definitely a trend. Several MMOs had switched from big expansions to smaller content releases, likely because that strategy worked well in some other MMOs in the past to keep slow organic growth. It didn’t work and several of those MMOs are now switching back to big expansions again. At the same time, several other MMOs released expansions and saw success with them, highlighting that releasing expansions still works as a business model.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Siphaed Trends aren’t the same as innovations. Trends usually come and go, like skinny jeans, bangs, and beards. They don’t have to be brand-new to be trendy. :D

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

A Dad Supreme What has me excited is some of the new proposals in room based AR:
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/113621/20151207/amazon-wants-to-bring-headset-free-augmented-reality-to-your-living-room.htm

My comments on VR have always been that if it’s just an evolution of our current screen based interface then it’s not likely to be the raging success everyone predicts.  If it’s not fundamentally a different experience, then it’s an expensive gimmick.
The efforts to do true 3d modelling, representation, and interaction would all represent a fundamental shift in the experience and I think you’d see products created that simply couldn’t be the same on a screen-based experience

Nanulak
Guest
Nanulak

Sandbox with building systems seems to be the largest trend.

MassivelyMacD
Guest
MassivelyMacD

Personally, I don’t need a sandboxification, I feel the term sandbox overrated. I would like to see better themeparks. Themeparks are what made MMO’s get out of their niche. If there is an MMO crisis, it is not because of a lack of sandboxes, it’s because of a lack of innovative themeparks.

Feydakin
Guest
Feydakin

I voted Open Development, but it’s kind of a close tie with Expansion becoming a thing again. I really like the large expansions in MMOs. Also, I’m not sure that I’d look at early access as a positive thing…

Lotsofheals
Guest
Lotsofheals

Getting you to pay for broken software because it is in ” testing ” is a terrible new trend.

allionline
Guest
allionline

Rozyn allionline Corvus Monedula What I really, really want to see is something like Dragon Age tactics-style combat. (More Dragon Age: Origins and II; they sadly dumbed it down in Inquisition). This is by far my favorite type of combat and while in DA you’re basically writing scripts to control four characters, I think this could be done in an MMO setting. (I’ve done a lot of thinking about it!) Players might need to alter their scripts depending on who else is in a party, what’s being fought, etc.

Scarecrowe
Guest
Scarecrowe

Way too many freaking expansions in 2015 and not anything in the way of new & good MMOs. I didn’t see *any* good trends in 2015 so I had to go with the “something else” option. The “open development” one sounded interesting but not the “early access” half of it. Any Steam game (ARK included) that I’ve gotten as Early Access has sucked terribly.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

Sandbox and social gameplay??? What do people mean?  What % of MMO players/revenue are in a sandbox MMO? 5%? 7%? 4%? Nor do I see the numbers changing much. Sure there is a lot of talk about it.  Revson “we manufacture cosmetics. we sell hopes” If you are doing a KS, then you can either market innovation or nostalgia. Nostalgia is much simpler to explain.

I like and want sandboxes.  It’s a positive step more people are talking about them.  But IMO, people are giving way too much credence to press releases and KS fund appeals vs actual, non-trivial games.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

Well one would hope that the popularity of games like ark will only help mmos in the long run. By giving people the types of games they really want instead of being in an mmo and wishing it was something else.
If they became a genre of their own mmo would have to go back to being mmos to attract players.

Zariarn
Guest
Zariarn

Kickstarters!

libertylion7
Guest
libertylion7

Should be a poll for ‘worst’ trend.  Sandbox pvp would be king of that award.

Sigbjorn
Guest
Sigbjorn

PvP as the future of the genre. It’s part old school nostalgia, part MOBA influence, part PvE content is too expensive. Most of the kickstarters are either FFA PvP or PvP only (Crowfall, Camelot).

Koshelkin
Guest
Koshelkin

Siphaed Well, action combat was the rage quite some time ago. I wouldn’t put it up as a contender for this year.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

Expansions are nothing new.  Sure they’re coming back hard to replace the DLC fad that was washing over our genre like the plague that it is on consoles. But it is still something that has been around for decades.

I’ll agree with Tina in how Action Combat is becoming a huge thing that is taking the genre by storm. Moving further and further from the more traditional “tab, target, smash face to keyboard” that some games cling towards.    GW2, TESO (sort of ish), Destiny and Tera are current games, but look at the future games line up:  Crowfall, Camelot Unchained, EQ:N (if it isn’t vaporware), and so on.  Even if Project Titan became an MMO it would have been action based instead of traditional.   It is an entire shift of the way we currently play games.

Koshelkin
Guest
Koshelkin

So far the sandboxification of the MMO genre gave a big haul of nothing…

Even on upcoming games I can only think of Repopulation, perhaps Albion and the rest will vanish so soon into obscurity. Project Gorgon perhaps? Is that one a sandbox.

On this side of the moon, I can’t see much of this sandboxification stuff.

Also it seems everyone gets sandbox wrong these days.

Rozyn
Guest
Rozyn

allionline Corvus Monedula I enjoy more action-y combat, such as Wildstar’s, and I’m good at it, but holy hell does it destroy my hands and wrists. At the same time, I get bored to tears with a lot of hotbar games if I’m just dps’ing. There needs to be a balance between twitch reflexes and clicking 1 2 3 in your sleep. More tactics and less mindless clicking! It can be done with hotbar combat, but it requires developers to actually give a shit and design an interesting system that isn’t just 8 hotbars of abilities that all do the same thing with no urgency to pick the right skill at the right time.

Rozyn
Guest
Rozyn

Vexia ManastuUtakata While I’m absolutely one of the people who doesn’t care for open world PVP, sometimes I wonder if we’re just seeing the same people saying they don’t want it. I mean, there has to be a reason games keep coming out this way, right? I’m starting to wonder if I’m just part of a vocal minority. I understand that PVP can give nearly infinite replayability in certain environments like MOBAs and lobby shooters, so maybe myself and other detractors just don’t get it? Regardless, I still don’t want open world PVP in my MMOs or sandboxes…

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

JimGriffiths I don’t believe that.  As an outsider, the biggest surprise for me in the Raph retrospective was reading so many times about features or things (server hardware!) that they wished were different but did not have the time/resources to address.  Even if they agreed, I just don’t think there was enough spare bandwidth to do much with player feedback.  IMO, if only the companies had been able to give Raph another year and some money.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

I don’t have a problem (EQ & EVE did announce returns to expansions) with Year of the Expansions. I like expansions. But some of this was just random timing:  Some 2 and 3 year expansion cycles happened to hit this year.  When FF, GW2, and UO don’t have an expansion next year, does that mean the industry will have given up on expansions?  Also, expansions are getting noticed more because there was not a AAA western MMO announced or delivered this year.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

Sandboxification has my vote. I’m not entirely sure whether “best” trend means most present, most important, or personal favourite… so I went with the last :)
To me, sandboxes are “true” MMOs, virtual worlds. That’s where the genre is strongest, and has the highest potential. ArcheAge for example was pretty bad (we can all agree on this, right?) but still it reminded me of what MMOs can truly be. Not just towns where you queue up for a dungeon or battleground, but living worlds, with all kinds of farming, crafting, housing, transport… I hope one day we’ll see an “ArcheAge” executed well. It would be my favourite game ever.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

Koolthulu A trend in development is also a trend, sandboxification definitely happened this year if you look at the amount of sandboxy games that were announced or (partially) developed this year

JimGriffiths
Guest
JimGriffiths

I voted Open development & early access. Why? Because feedback during the development phase is very helpful.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

Damonvile I’m in the other camp I guess, I want to be in a world with 2-5k people. I love pugs, and even the presence of random morons. It adds flavour to the game. (though I don’t need a themepark ride, in fact I prefer sandboxy stuff).

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

Vexia ManastuUtakata  There are business reason for this. KS funding is *not* about coming up with long-term viable games (e.g. Bree’s everythingbox).  It is about finding some perhaps minor feature that people are passionate about; passionate enough to fund well before alpha. (Similarly, political fund raising appeals tend to focus far more on a “hot button” issue than balanced discussion.)

Disappointing though.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

ManastuUtakata Seriously, where are the developers lining up to take the money of the sandbox-without-PvP demographic? I don’t know how many times people see a new sandbox game and say “I’d be all over this if it weren’t for the open-world PvP.”

hardy83
Guest
hardy83

bakkahentai2600 hardy83 Do you mean the manacutters? Yeah they are neat and all, but they are just regular flying mounts, and flying is limited in the game to just those new maps.

I know there’s FC airships or something that go to a special area and explore. I don’t know if there’s a solo way to do that.

Koolthulu
Guest
Koolthulu

Most of those trends seem to be stuff that happened in 2014 or looks like it will happen in 2016. I think the only one that really fits for 2015 was the explosion of the expansion.

bakkahentai2600
Guest
bakkahentai2600

hardy83  FFXIV has personal airships.

PurpleCopper
Guest
PurpleCopper

Not really sure what solo content entails to a MMO game.
Solo raids? Solo open world?

If it means solo raids, that seems to be just plain ol’ dynamic difficulty scaling.
If it’s solo open world, I have no idea how that works.

As for action combat, Is there a MMO game that combines the best aspects of both traditional combat and action combat mechanics?

Rozyn
Guest
Rozyn

Damonvile Yesss! This is my biggest hope as well.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

A Dad Supreme 
…maybe in another 20 years. Or when it becomes an option with ones’ prescription glasses.

wpDiscuz