Massively OP’s Best of 2016 Awards: Best MMORPG Business Model of 2016


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Business Model of 2016, which is a new award we’re doling out for the first time this year thanks to a proposal from reader strangesands. This award is intended to recognize a live MMORPG of any age that has demonstrated an exemplary business model specifically in 2016, regardless of its past performance. 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 MMORPG Business Model of 2016 is…



Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Guild Wars 2’s buy-to-play model especially stands out, as when old content’s cycled out, it’s free to help get new players into the gameworld. It feels the most fair still. I dislike the cash shop that often comes with games using this model, but as long as it sticks to cosmetics over lockboxes, I’m fine with it. Who knows though. Maybe Chronicles of Elyria’s proposed model will be here next year.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): EVE Online. With the recent addition of its free to play alpha clone option, I think EVE Online is now the MMO with the best business model in 2016. The limited free option gives veteran players the ability to stay connected to the game’s social world when they aren’t subscribing and functions as an endless trial for new players to let them take their time getting into the game. The free account limitations seem to have adequately prevented the wide-scale abuse of farming and spam bots seen in full free-to-play conversions, and it’s kept the value of the standard subscription option high. Combined with the ability to upgrade a free account to a subscription using in-game ISK by buying a PLEX on the open market, this has left EVE in a really good position for people with a wide range of gaming budgets and levels of interest. There definitely seems to be growing support for a return to subscriptions this year in light of many free to play games evolving abusive business models based on gambling and selling power. Many gamers are now yearning for the simplicity of a monthly subscription game where you can grind for anything entirely in-game, and I think EVE has managed to strike a pretty good balance here. The cash shop sells almost exclusively cosmetics like avatar clothing and ship skins, and all cash shop items can be bought and sold for in-game currency on the open market so nothing is ever truly cash shop exclusive. Even when skill trading was introduced, CCP opted not to sell skill injectors directly but to instead give players the tools to extract and sell their own skill points from their existing characters for in-game ISK — an important distinction that has kept the playerbase happy.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Guild Wars 2 continues to have the best business model in the genre. There are things to dislike about it as there are things to dislike with every model — lockboxes chief among them. But it’s given away several chapters of content as well as the base game now, and the cash shop is entirely ignorable in a way that simply cannot be said of other F2P and B2P hybrid models. (Classic Guild Wars could defeat it in a duel, but it hardly seems fair to include a maintenance mode game in these lists!) Easy runners-up are World of Warcraft, with its sub and lack of lockboxes, and Elder Scrolls Online, which in spite of lockboxes has stuck to its paid DLC rollout and offers multiple legitimate ways to pay.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): From RIFT’s newest expansion to Black Desert, B2P seems to be coming back as players seem willing to fork over a one-time payment to get most all of the content they want to experience.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): We’ve yet to see the full outcome of Elder Scrolls Online’s gambling boxes, but the DLC buy-to-play with a completely optional subscription has to be the best business model for an MMORPG. It also works just as well on consoles as it does on PC and the numbers prove it.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): The Secret World, with its buy-to-play with paid DLCs or expansions. If you want a cash shop, make it about cosmetics.

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I am kind of on the fence for this one because I play MMOs regardless of the business model used and have even put up with Neverwinter’s obnoxious pop-ups and confusing tiered currencies in pursuit of my MMO fix. My preferred choice is usually B2P with a fair cash shop that focuses on purchases that don’t boil down to pay-to-win nonsense when the smoke and mirrors are gone. I also far rather a system that uses a simple in-game to real-world currency exchange that doesn’t filter the currencies through several in-game units of exchange to obfuscate the real cost of the items in the cash shop. I can’t really look beyond Guild Wars 2 for this question: The items that have been added in 2016 are some of the most beautiful yet and ArenaNet has created some very clever bundles that I can’t pass up.

Guild Wars 2 won our award for Best MMORPG Business Model of 2016. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: Which MMORPG had the best business model in 2016?

  • Guild Wars 2 (52%, 1,388 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (9%, 248 Votes)
  • EVE Online (3%, 79 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (6%, 159 Votes)
  • Black Desert (1%, 20 Votes)
  • The Secret World (4%, 97 Votes)
  • RIFT (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (5%, 121 Votes)
  • WildStar (1%, 34 Votes)
  • Star Wars The Old Republic (2%, 40 Votes)
  • Skyforge (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Trove (0%, 2 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (0%, 10 Votes)
  • Marvel Heroes (1%, 30 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Riders of Icarus (0%, 6 Votes)
  • TERA (1%, 15 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (1%, 34 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Landmark (0%, 1 Votes)
  • RuneScape (0%, 9 Votes)
  • Nothing (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 16 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (3%, 87 Votes)
  • Warframe (7%, 186 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,648

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Poll options include all games nominated plus several major MMOs from the last few years.

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