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


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

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