One of my favorite things to do every year is break down the top articles on the site for our readers. You might think you already know what the biggest stories are because the comment count ran wild or it was super controversial — or even because you saw our biggest stories award or read our biggest stories listicle. But in reality, the single posts that actually accrue the most hits aren’t necessarily the ones you’d think, and they’re not even entirely predictable to us. A well-timed link from a major website — Reddit, Fark, or a game dev — can elevate an entire month. (That’s why we’re so grateful when our fans share our work across social networks!)
A few caveats before we dive in: I’ve eliminated a couple of posts from 2015 that still continue to do well in 2016 (that’s no fun). I’ve also eliminated contests (Paladins, Black Desert, SMITE, and TERA had the most popular giveaways this year, but again, they’re sort of cheating since they aren’t real content — they’re just free stuff). And do remember that the list favors posts made early in the year, so you’ll seldom see big articles from December on a list like this (they haven’t had as much time to circulate).
A couple of these ought to be surprises: E3 has never been a big convention for MMORPGs, this year especially, so I was quite surprised this summer to see our recap post on it do so spectacularly well, given that we don’t give formal awards.
Life is Feudal’s MMO announcement was another surprise, but that one’s down to MJ scoring a huge scoop there.
Path of Exile never surprises me, however; it’s had at least one entry in this list for the last few years. It’s a much bigger game than you probably think, as is the ARPG genre as a whole, as our guide suggests — there’s a lot of overlap with MMORPG playerbases.
Black Desert tore up the charts this year across multiple posts in our top 25 posts, but the only one to peek into the very top is our community post picking servers. How sweet! (It looks to be one of those posts that got circulated on Reddit as English players were trying to sort out which server was which. Gotta love those.) Guild Wars 2 also sneaked in toward the end as it busted out with season 3 of its living world content.
EVE Online also frequently boasts at least one entry; this year it was two, both due to Brendan’s fabulous reporting on pay-to-win skill injectors and World War Bee.
Finally, there’s Larry’s Elder Scrolls Online housing reveal, a December article that defied the odds and raced up the charts to sit alongside articles with months more circulation.
Intriguingly absent? Legion, Nostalrius, and EverQuest Next. Think about that and stay tuned for next week’s peek into the most-commented on posts, where those topics have a much better presence — it’s always a fun contrast!