The Daily Grind: What's the hardest-working MMO team out there right now?

The other day we ran a story on Villagers and Heroes' plans for 2017, and those of us in the Massively OP office were murmuring about how impressed we are at this scrappy team and its ambitious content and feature rollout. Sometimes we see games like this that put the headliners to shame with their production quantity and quality, and it feels like it's a bummer that they don't get more attention from gamers.

If you had to pick one or two MMORPG teams to single out for praise, which ones would you say are the hardest-working in the industry right now? Which are the most agile, the most ambitious, and the best at delivering on promised content?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today's Daily Grind!
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68 comments
Dread1313
Dread1313

Digital Extremes, cause they work really hard at taking your money, using bait and switch to nerf that warframe you just bought 2 weeks later.

Serrenity
Serrenity

Im gonna say Project Gorgon or Ascent: the space game

tobascodagama
tobascodagama

@Serrenity Past-tense in case of Ascent, unfortunately. :( Jam didn't quite make enough on the game to do it full-time, so he had to take a bill-paying job. As a result, updates have sadly petered off.

Mend
Mend

ffxiv, hands down. Can't believe the variety, pace and quality of content. 


Given how terrible warlords of Draenor was, and the prior pace of Blizzard releases....there is at least one person at Blizzard who must be exerting superhuman effort or inspiration for as well as Legion has turned out. Kudos to that person or persons because it must have been like trying to save a capsizing ocean liner.

Oleg Chebeneev
Oleg Chebeneev

I'll base my judgement not on sympathies (cough, cough those who voted for CSE). I'll base my judgement on content showcase and videos that show developers at work. Chris Robert's team working on Star Citizen is definetly stands out. Those people are not only working hard, they are the biggest talents in industry which is clear by looking at what they created so far.


Honorable mention - Blizzard. People who worked on Legion expansion can be proud of their work.

melissaheather
melissaheather

you could argue that Black Desert Online's team is publishing the most content. Who has the hardest job? Probably the folks trying to keep ArcheAge afloat.

agemyth
agemyth

I am under the impression that there are a lot of hard working individuals in game dev that put up with a poor work-life balance for one reason or another. This seems to apply even to studios many of us love to hate, so I would not personally feel comfortable singling out one team as more hard working than another.

But that Villagers & Heroes Android port is mighty well done.

wjowski
wjowski

Had to be Project Gorgon, with it's two devs and no budget.

JimGriffiths
JimGriffiths

Blizzard hands down. Not only does their dev have to constantly keep working to keep ahead of the pack but their legal team has had to keep busy trying to fight criminals.

Greaterdivinity
Greaterdivinity

Squeenix, both the FFXI and FFXIV teams, though I'm more familiar with the latter. I'll throw ZMO behind them, I assumed they'd slow down support after the game launched on all three platforms and would scale things back, but it seems like they're still churning out regular content updates that are pretty huge in scope. 

Jack Pipsam
Jack Pipsam

Jagex I suppose, just keeps on rolling.

BryanCo
BryanCo

I hope it's CSE, cause I want me some Camelot Unchained.

But don't overdo it:

zoward
zoward

TESO's team has managed quite the turnaround since launch.

GeekySharp
GeekySharp

Hands-down I'd say the teams at FFXIV - in terms of quality, volume and consistency of content, they really do rank so highly above any other studio it's almost silly. And they do it all without fleecing players through rng lockboxes.


They honestly set the standard by which I now measure every other mmo dev company (looking at you ESO, DCUO and Marvel Heroes).

allionline
allionline

That one guy at Project Gorgon. Seriously.

Leilonii
Leilonii

I'd say either Black Desert Online or FFXIV teams. They both put out high quality content at an insane pace and both cultures have less concern for work-life balance than we do so they probably are more willing to put insane hours in.

Sleepery
Sleepery

I'm actually tempted to say Daybreak, purely because I just know there are some good people there doing their best to keep the games they made up and running while trying to deal with irrational decisions from a faceless management team. Hard, thankless work that's not going to end well.

Reht
Reht

@Sleepery was thinking the same thing, they keep trying to do more with less.  The new EQ1 expansion is actually pretty good, have to give them kudos for that.

LegendOfVinnyT
LegendOfVinnyT

I'd have to say Cryptic. With one team, they manage to juggle three game-- oh, wait. They dropped one... OK, they picked it back up again. Where was I? Oh, yeah, they juggle thr-- oops, they dropped one again. Now it's rolled under a table... um... let me get back to you on this.

Karl_Hungus
Karl_Hungus

Mark Jacobs and all the rest at City State because I'm biased.

Reht
Reht

@Karl_Hungus No way, they leave positions unfilled claiming they are looking for talent, yeah right!  Mark Jacobs is always taking off on vacations instead of making the game, he is becoming the GRRM of videos games!  They waste too much time trying to be transparent and hosting streams, that time that would be better served building the game.  They shut the studio down for holidays! No working getting done there...  Now if you are reading this and i got your blood pressure up, i am just kidding - I couldn't pass it up.  Love me some City State!  They are definitely a hard working bunch.  Mark Jacobs seems like the kind of boss who actually cares about his folks and his team members genuinely seem to enjoy working there.  It's the kind of place i would love to work at.

Armsbend
Armsbend

@ManastuUtakata How has Nintendo not influenced pink pigtails over a three decade period?  I ASK YOU THIS!

Karl_Hungus
Karl_Hungus

@Armsbend 

Nothing about Switch has me interested at all. When it comes down to it, I bet their recent retro console will have sold better than the Switch. Nostalgia is all Nintendo has left these days.

zoward
zoward

@Armsbend  Unfortunately it's right around the time I start work :-P.  I'll probably catch the highlights later on Ars Technica.

Armsbend
Armsbend

@Karl_Hungus GEForce Shield is beating them to market.  Interesting how it will unfold.  I'm buying one of them at least.

Valkyriez
Valkyriez

Probably Carbine to be honest. Along with everyone else, they know they are on the precipice and are trying everything they can whilst sticking to a vision to keep players engaged but also draw more players in, and they need it.

Individual taste may differ etc but I don't doubt Carbine are working thier asses off to keep the lights on lately.

Elijah Crow
Elijah Crow

Zenimax is the hardest working team with ESO from what I've seen over the past two years.  Can't wait for their "secret" announcements this year.

ManastuUtakata
ManastuUtakata

I think they all do to a degree. Until someone shows an exclusive where an actual team that lounges around all day playing rubbish bin basketball, I am going to assume they all work hard to push their respective game forward and/or keep it going.

Loopstah
Loopstah

@ManastuUtakata Agreed. I think we only judge devs that churn out content fast, but ultimately it's about the quality of the content that is pushed out as well, and that can't be rushed. Even during content droughts in WoW, i seriously doubt people are just sitting at their desks twiddling their thumbs. I personally believe it's the management's problem of appropriately assigning resources to all stages of the game to ensure current game's content is not sacrificed for the sake of the next expansion.

Armsbend
Armsbend

No one works harder studying server management while actively managing servers than Trion.  Although as an unpaid intern it is probably difficult to find answers from all of the other unpaid interns that work there.

Rheem Octuris
Rheem Octuris

My vote goes to Grinding Gear Games, maker of Path of Exile. I feel like they don't get enough credit at times.

PizzaDoh
PizzaDoh

@Rheem Octuris They released the game right around D3 and are making it work. To take on a juggernaut like that and come out of it with a game more than a few hardcore fans still love and play? Gotta give them respect.

Laeesh
Laeesh

City State Entertainment (CSE) / Camelot Unchained. Creating their own engine from scratch, the "struggle" for additional programmers solved, handling a passionated fan-base longing for info´s <-> handling the overall development progress and for me the most important part being honest/upfront.


That does not mean, there aren´t many hard working teams out there, but CSE is the team I am following since their kickstarter 2013 and my experience has been and still is awesome!

KidWithKnife
KidWithKnife

Tough to say since I'm not really paying attention to a lot of MMO studios, but Gazillion has got to be up there. One can reasonably disagree with some of their choices or question whether their ambitions are well matched to the size of their team, but you can't reasonably take anything away from them as far as their drive and work ethic are concerned.

ThatLanteshGuy
ThatLanteshGuy

Daybreak. Because they're working very hard to shut everything down.

UpayaCrow
UpayaCrow

@ThatLanteshGuy Right. They just underwrote development on LotRO and DDO in order to shut them down and lose a ton of money. That's their winning plan.

PizzaDoh
PizzaDoh

@ThatLanteshGuy I just watched some EQ1 videos last night that were talking about all the love and detail that went into the original game (Via footage from project 1999). Holy crap did they put some real love and attention into that game. It's such a shame what the company came from and turned into :(

Chaz_Lawler
Chaz_Lawler

I haven't played in awhile, and I know quite a few top dogs have left at this point, but back when I was playing, Gazillion's Marvel Heroes team was really awesome.

Modrain
Modrain

The question is a bit tricky. If adding more people increased linearly production quality and quantity, the answer would be pretty easy, but game development being what it is, it's pretty complicated to get an idea without knowing what's going on on the other side. Hard work is not always visible on the outside, smart lazy work can be more productive than raw hard work, and small teams can both do better and be more efficient than bigger ones depending of the project and organization.

I'd love to be able to praise a team, but we only know about the tips of the icebergs.

Veldan
Veldan

@Modrain This. People are often quick to judge based on some words on the internet, but in the end we aren't there. We can't answer a question like this.