Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Best MMO Trend of 2017

Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Trend, which was awarded to the trend of adding content scaling to MMOs last year. This year, all trends were back on the table. 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 2017 is…

THE FOCUS ON MMO COMMUNITY & DEV COMMUNICATION

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Nostalgia with substance! Guild Wars 2’s appeal to Nightfall veterans combined with shiny mounts with unique features, Elder Scrolls Online’s appeal to Morrowind fans with the war bear, er, warden class, Pokemon Go’s Generation 1 and 2 legendary ‘mon finally added to the game through the new raid feature (when it works)… I just hope for fans’ sake that World of Warcraft (again) trying to focus on the old Horde vs. Alliance chestnut will pay off in 2018. Runner up: Content scaling. This won last year for a reason. I prefer horizontal leveling, so this is one step closer to that.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Treating games as communities. It feels as if there’s a stronger focus this year on studios maintaining communities rather than trying to grow fast at the expense of all else. More devs are communicating with players, there seems to be more openness and transparency, and even companies like Blizzard are listening to fans on issues like the Vanilla server. The genre feels like it’s maturing a lot this year, and more studios are viewing their games as long term prospects.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna): I was on the fence about this, but Andrew put nostalgia into perspective for me. It’s really hard to argue against the idea that nostalgia was a big trend for the genre this year, from Guild Wars 2 to Elder Scrolls Online to World of Warcraft – even the EverQuest franchise got throwback expansions this year. And that’s without even mentioning throwback MMOs like Pantheon. I will totally bow to my colleagues and roll with community, though. Games like Ship of Heroes and Pantheon are certainly making community a real pillar of their design.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre): A community is never a reason why an MMO is good or not; the game is the game on its own. But a good community helps make a good game (or even a great one) into a more memorable place for a time. The more companies realize that community ties are worth celebrating in addition to the actual game systems, the more we receive reinforcement for one of the major social branches that keeps us invested in the first place.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster): Words are cheap, but we kept seeing dev teams eat crow over a lack of transparency and communication — while others stepped up to deliver more or be more consistent in their output this year. It’s especially important for upcoming MMOs and ones that are in their early days, but experienced studios (Trion, anyone?) aren’t off the hook.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie): It may not be the biggest trend this year, but it is certainly the best: building community. Adding and improving features that help build and foster community is precisely what gaming needs, and different companies and games are rising to the occasion. I include in this things like the ability to scale in level to play with anyone, improved grouping and group finding features, and better guild mechanics. Just a couple of examples are Secret World Legends and ArcheAge’s group and raid finder interfaces, and Trove’s club-centric update. And you can’t forget the companies that put building up a positive community as the top goal: I’m looking at you, Ship of Heroes!

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I wholeheartedly agree with Andrew here: All things nostalgic have made a massive comeback in several key MMOs this year and it really has marked how the modern MMO expansion is developed. It applies to so many MMOs, including my beloved GW2, and is such a well-received trend that it must get a vote.

The renewed focus on MMO communities and developer communication took our award for Best MMO Trend of 2017. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG trend of 2017?

  • Community focus and communication (17%, 69 Votes)
  • Nostalgia-driven content updates (10%, 41 Votes)
  • Content scaling (13%, 55 Votes)
  • Console ports (4%, 17 Votes)
  • Skin gambling and lockbox crackdowns (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Big expansions for core MMORPGs (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Private servers and shards (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Renewed interest in subscription models (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Sandboxes and sandbox gameplay (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Anti-toxicity efforts (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Nothing (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 411

Loading ... Loading ...
Poll options include all trends nominated plus a few more.

MOP’S 2017 AWARDS (SO FAR)
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

51 Comments on "Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Best MMO Trend of 2017"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Alex Malone

I’m going with nostalgia driven content.

Community-focus and communication? Hasn’t happened yet. Communication from indie studios remains good, but existing devs are still terrible. As for community focus? Lol! I can’t think of a single thing that has happened in 2017 to actual help existing communities. MMOs remain solo focused and adding new tools to help form groups does not help form communities.

Content scaling? Hardly a trend, its been here a while and it sucks. Horizontal progression is what is needed, not scaling.

Lockbox crackdown, sub models, interest in sandbox gameplay…..none of these things have happened yet! They get talked about a lot, but nothing has actually happened. We don’t have more sandbox elements, sub model hasn’t returned and lockboxes are still rampant, the crackdown has yet to happen.

What MMOs have been ported to consoles this year? Or what console MMOs have been ported to PC? I’m guessing I must have missed these entirely….

Private servers and shards? What’s been happening here compared to previous years? I know private servers are a big thing for non-MMOs, but didn’t think there had been much movement in 2017 within the MMO genre.

Reader
rafael12104

To those of you that answered, “nothing”. I get it. If you look at the year overall for MMORPGs it is hard to find a trend worth mentioning.

With all due respect to MoP and others, communities and coms between devs isn’t a trend. It is a cycle. Seriously. We see it bubble up and get better and then, it slides right back down the drain after the first significant controversy.

And, to be honest, given Bungie’s continuing bullshit, and it is continuing, I wonder how many other devs haven’t pulled the same tricks. Doesn’t garner a lot of faith in my book.

But my answer isn’t “nothing.” There has actually been progress and a trend established fighting what I hate most, toxicity as Sray mentions below.

Gone is the bullshit “emergent gameplay”. Remember that once lauded maxim which let players basically grief to their hearts content? And it has happened quietly and happily in several quarters.

There are several examples of this trend, but I’ll mention only two briefly for the sake of this wall of text.

First good old ArchAge, the king of emergent gameplay and toxic defender. All of that griefing that used to go on, blocking bridges etc. it is no longer in the rule set. Scams in chat and otherwise are no longer tolerated. Rules are back!

And then there is BnS who suffered all of the vagaries of any F2P game. With the implementation of a new reporting system and strict enforcement of their guidelines in gen-chat. Trolling, hate speech, and homophobic and racist slurs and spamming gold farmers are almost gone.

I’ve seen similar improvements in SWTOR and great efforts in BDO and other games as well.

So my favorite trend is the fight to eliminate toxicity. It is a hard fight and ongoing, but things improved this year. Let’s hope it continues.

Reader
Thomas Zervogiannis

Even though it was equally a trend in the past two years, I voted for “Sandboxes and sandbox gameplay”. I am really grateful that BDO and E:D brought sandbox and sandbox-like elements to the forefront with substantial success, and I congratulate their developers for that, regardless of criticizing the games for their flaws – a lot, mostly out of interest in them and in an effort to try and be constructive and rational.

Finally game studios try something different from what essentially was a re-skin of the same game. Compare for example how differently a themepark plays from another and how different EVE or Albion plays from BDO and E:D. The genre really needs this variety, and it is good to see so many different concepts in the development pipeline.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Mailvaltar

This.

While it didn’t quite hook me when I first tried it shortly after release, I revisited BDO last week because I just craved a different, more freeform playstyle. I’m enjoying it very much right now, it just took a while getting used to. It’s a pretty complex game, and for me that’s a good thing.

Also still playing EVE. After many years I finally found a way to play it casually and still have fun with PvP regularly.

Reader
Thomas Zervogiannis

Awesome Zac Mcracken avatar btw. That took me yeeears back! :D
I am really missing those amazing Lucas adventure games.

Reader
Koshelkin

I voted nothing. I see the western market neither improving or *trying*. The mainstream ever so slowly turned it’s back on MMO’s and it’s not suprising that we have to look to the Asian market for exciting news and announcements.

Of course MMO’s are still played and made but not like the time when the whole industry tried to follow in WoW’s footsteps.

Reader
Nick // Genghis

It’s sad, but realistically the only truly successful, time-tested Western MMOs are: WoW, GW2, and ESO. All based around established IPs with a relatively set amount of ‘features’ and what’s included in them. I hardly see any developers striking out and trying something even remotely new surrounding the MMO-sphere.

Here’s hoping Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Chronicles of Elyria, and Ashes of Creation are not total shit birds…

Reader
Denice J. Cook

I voted for content scaling, because not only does it lend more flexibility to leveling alts, but it simplifies the “mentor down/sidekick up” concept of newbies playing with seasoned vets.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
strangesands

I voted content scaling, but what I really mean is keeping the whole world relevant. That is, a move to avoid throwaway zones and repurpose them with new content and quests suitable to your level when you return (phasing). This scratches a nostalgia itch, but also recognizes that things have changed. WoW tipped their toes in this with Legion, but I hope the trend continues on a larger scale.

Reader
Sally Bowls

I would vote for nostalgia.

A community focus is probably a good thing. But I contrast and disagree with community communication.

“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

I just don’t think that communication from game companies works out to be that positive. The realities of development and finance are just a recipe for reddit and youtube rants. Features are going to be cut to make dates for game and non-game software. AAA budgets will trend to go up. AAA games are not going to be sold for just a one-time $60. Offline games are less likely to be made due to gamers’ piracy. … Nice marketing promotions are fine; but honest and accurate communication? … IDK.

deekay_plus
Reader
Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

piracy has been at an all time low for a long time. if anything the high incidence of piracy would be with intrinsically drm’ed MMO’s.

Reader
Rumm

Pretty bad year when being less shitty to each other is the best trend in the genre. Voted Nothing on this one.

I don’t really agree that MMO studios are focusing more on communication and community than they previously had. A lot of games don’t even have their own forums anymore, instead relying on Reddit and Twitter to reach out to their audience. It’s pretty sad when I have to go through a third party website to get information about a game, especially when that information is gathered in bits and pieces by the community rather than shared by the developer.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

I didnt know content scaling was a trend, but I definetly approve this. Been asking for years for this in WoW

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

Thank God for private servers, so that I can continue to play my WoW disc priest pre-Legion.

Reader
Sray

Developers finally waking up to the fact that many of them have created environments the easily enable toxic behaviours, starting to do something about it.

But it is only a start. Reporting tools and blog posts are fine, but now it’s time to move beyond just the game. Now we need to start seeing things like officially endorsing streamers and YouTubers who encourage good sportsmanship; working with TV shows that are aimed at young viewers to teach about online etiquette; and reach out programs that get into schools to talk about this with children. Putting reporting tools into games alone isn’t enough if we’re not fostering an environment that makes this sort of behaviour a rarity to begin with.

Reader
rafael12104

Damn. Right on point Sray. That was, IMO, the best trend. The move against toxicity. And it was hard fought too.

Brendan Drain
Staff
Brendan Drain

One of the best accidental anti-toxicity features in an online game was mobile MOBA Vainglory’s lack of voice chat. People begged for voice chat to be added but it turned out that without it the game was far less stressful and toxic than the average MOBA. It’s still something players are divided on, but shows that removing the vector of abuse is still a viable way to deal with it.

Think about it, when you’ve just joined a game in Overwatch and you hear someone’s voice, how does it make you feel? I immediately think “aww shit” and brace myself for verbal abuse, and even muting people in online games doesn’t eliminate their influence on the game because their abuse can demoralise the entire team.

deekay_plus
Reader
Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

i remember back in my time in cs/css. i craved for people to at least listen in voice chat to my directions and dreamed of doing some regular clan like team thing on my reg pub or in my l2 clan’s weekend outtings.

a decade later i can’t stand csgo’s lack of global pre game mute.

that being said, this past year i didn’t realize i had gtao voice chat on for weeks at a time until i randomly heard someone speaking spainish the day we picked up a new recruit. i thought it was him but it was not, and everyone was super confused at my protest “hey so and so i didn’t know you were spainish” “what?” “you’re speaking spaining while we pvp!” “ummmmm…..” XD

Andrew Ross
Staff
Andrew Ross

Which was one of the reasons I liked “Solstice Arena,” which removed both voice chat and chat and replaced it with preset communication tools. RIP -_-

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

I agree with your comment that prohibiting communications limits toxicity, but your last point …

… and even muting people in online games doesn’t eliminate their influence on the game because their abuse can demoralise the entire team.

… seems to contradict your overall point.

People can still troll in-game via actions in-game, not just how other team members react to a player you have muted.

Brendan Drain
Staff
Brendan Drain

… seems to contradict your overall point.

People can still troll in-game via actions in-game, not just how other team members react to a player you have muted.

I’m specifically talking about abusive chat here, I’m saying that even if I personally mute someone who’s being abusive, there’s no guarantee the rest of the team will do the same and it won’t affect their morale. Most people will not just mute someone and move on, some will even stop playing and engage with the troll.

Whether or not someone can troll via in-game actions rather than chat is a much separate and much wider issue that comes down to how games are designed. I think toxicity is pretty much inevitable when your success in a game is so heavily dependent on a small number of other people, and I won’t pretend that there’s an easy solution for that. For the most popular games, it’s also problem of sheer scale to handle reports from players and most devs just don’t bother.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

I immediately think “thank god someone has comms on we have a chance of maybe winning”.

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

Putting reporting tools into games alone isn’t enough if we’re not fostering an environment that makes this sort of behaviour a rarity to begin with.

/agree, but! They need to have human beings aka babysitters/cops/hall-monitors involved. Just gotta get them to spend the money on that, which they are VERY reluctant to do.

Reader
CMDR Crow

Honestly, the only way we get better communities is to seek them out and start them. Big games with huge, massively status-quo playerbases are going to be infested by toxic people who demand and hold outsize presences. The best one can do is craft a small group of good people and soldier through the messy outside.

On the other hand, a game like LotRO has a community where engaging with other players in good faith remains a steadfast value. The self-selection for a decade-old game under a deep-and-everlasting-but-niche IP such as Tolkien breeds people who really want to be there and assume others have a similar outlook.

There’s a sweet spot where a game’s concept is just niche enough to self-select somewhat severely while also having enough quality to maintain a playerbase where MMORPGs really shine. CoH was like this. SWG was like this. TSW was like this. I think Elite is like that, too. LotRO, etc..

When people want to be there through a semi-steep initial difficulty/gameplay experience and the world’s concept is one of assuming good faith, you get great, great games. Hell, I’d even, maybe, point to the original Darkfall as similar for a PvP game. It was so unique and specialized that those who played were genuinely excited for new players and engaged, most of the time, in good faith PvP where it wasn’t about anything more than the enjoyment, win or lose.

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

I think the problem is too large for “self-policing”, and requires MMO runners to spend real monies to have interns/employees doing “babysitters/cops/hall-monitors” work. /shrug

And its VERY hard to find the right communities, there hasn’t been a good in-game tool for that since SWG’s social window.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I think Elite is like that, too.

IMHO that depends on whether you are talking about the Mobius supergroup or the ED community as a whole.

Mobius, by all accounts, is a really great community. A bit too loaded on introverts, but just about everyone I talked to was nice and pleasant. Though, of course, it’s self-selected by the acceptance of consensual PvP rules; attack another player without first getting their explicit agreement to engage in PvP and you get kicked from the group.

The larger ED community, though… Let’s just say that, were I to get back to the game, I would never, ever, choose to play in the “Open” setting.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

The scoring is likely to be all over the board on this one.

I was inclined to vote “nothing” because it was a year of relative trend/feature stasis, from my perspective. But I ended up voting for Big expansions for core MMORPGs, because I did benefit from several of these, and enjoyed them overall. I’d be happy to see this trend continue.

Coolit
Reader
Coolit

The trend back to subscription as price gouging and unethical under the hood systems become more prevalent has been the best trend.

Reader
TheDonDude

Content scaling! ’bout time the mainstream MMO scene realized that CoH had a good idea on this.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

Christ this one was easy: Nothing.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Veldan

“best” is comparative. “Nothing” is not a valid answer unless there were no MMO trends at all in 2017.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

I choose nothing in the sense that there was not one good trend in 2017. There were many bad trends to choose from but good? Nothing comes to mind.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

I’d go with console ports. Those boxes are finally powerful enough, and it injects new life into a title to release to that game population.

Reader
CMDR Crow

I’m going to go with “Finally moving past MMORPG-as-a-fad.”

It has taken years, but the genre is starting to feel like it is again full of people who want to make worlds and experiences more than slot machines. The big budget days were stagnating and the huge focus on what amount to rather passive-RP-focused gameplay was lost in the need to keep players going going going.

It’ll be a few more years, but right now I’m hoping we can get back to MMORPGs being niche, special games focused on playing a role instead of running hamster wheels.

Reader
Cosmic Cleric

MMORPG over MMOGFL, any day.

Reader
CMDR Crow

On retrospective, I think I actually give this answer every year :)

But it is a slow process and there has been somewhat of a shunning bifurcation of a lot of the worst “hamster wheel, microtransaction model” from less $$$ focused games this year, I think.

wpDiscuz