Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Trend of 2016, which was awarded to the staggering resurgence of MMORPG expansions last year. 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 MMORPG Trend of 2016 is…
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Tie ins with other games. Blizzard’s been doing it for ages, Trion’s been trying it, and I know NCSoft wants to do more. It’s a nice way to get people to expand their horizons.
Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Legal clampdown on skin gambling and lockboxes. The rise of premium lockboxes and other real-world gambling mechanics has been a worryingly negative trend over the past few years, but the law may be finally catching up with unregulated online gambling. Valve was ordered to stop unlicensed skin gambling websites for its games by any means necessary, and even China has recently announced progressive laws to protect minors from gambling via lockboxes in MMOs and requiring companies to publish a list of all possible contents in a lockbox along with the true odds of winning each item. Hopefully this trend continues in the coming year and we get some much-needed transparency regarding the contents and odds of lockboxes in western markets too.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Content scaling. Content scaling was everywhere this year, from Elder Scrolls Online’s One Tamriel to World of Warcraft’s Legion, building off the scaling added at the end of last year in Star Wars: The Old Republic, all building off the games that came before like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV and EverQuest II and the father of it all, City of Heroes. Every AAA themepark has it now, and even wee games like Allods Online are jumping on the bandwagon. Guys, we won. This is an incredibly good thing for the health of the genre, especially if you’re a big fan of social play.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Content scaling. One of the funky things about MMOs at this point is that you know something is becoming an outright trend when WoW embraces it, and Legion has embraced the heck out of content scaling. It is, I think, a very good thing. There are a lot of games that have had this over the years, but this year seemed to be a high-water mark for developers deciding that level should not be the sole determinant of whether or not you get to play The Fun Part of a given game.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): The return to expansions. So many great expansions launched or were announced this year, and that’s a great thing to revitalize older titles and keep us interested. Plus, with fewer big-budget MMOs on the horizon, it’s a perfect time for the expansion to take the spotlight on the launch stage.
Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): Can I say that the move to console is a good thing and not get me shot by our fanbase? I don’t play on console. I don’t like consoles, in general. But I cannot deny that it’s consoles that have kept games like DCUO and ESO afloat. If it takes launching a game on Playstation as well as PC to keep it alive, then who am I to deny this excellent trend.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Last year I predicted that 2016 would embrace the private servers/shards trend. And frankly I think that was the best trend of the year! While I personally love the big worlds with tons of people to meet and interact with (I have met some of the most important people in my life randomly in MMORPGs), the fact that we can play on servers that have the rulesets we like really do give the best play experience now. Yes, I do lament the lowered number of folks I can meet, but I am also more likely to run into those who have more similar gaming tastes as my own. That can be a good or a bad thing (I am so a fan of variety and expanding your horizons) but I willingly sacrifice that to be rid of the drama and griefing that has been the bane of my gaming experiences.
Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I’m going to go with the renewed interest in subscription-based models that I’ve seen throughout 2016 as a direct response to how uncomfortable a significant proportion of MMORPG players have become with heavy cashshop implementations that effectively gate rewards and content. I have to also say that sandboxes are still a hot trend across 2016, with many upcoming development projects in the industry carrying the trend forward into 2017 as well.
Content scaling won our award for Best MMORPG Trend of 2016. What’s your pick?
Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG trend of 2016?
- Content scaling as a design foundation (39%, 205 Votes)
- Console ports (8%, 42 Votes)
- Skin gambling and lockbox crackdowns (10%, 51 Votes)
- Big expansions for core MMORPGs (9%, 47 Votes)
- Private servers and shards (5%, 28 Votes)
- Renewed interest in subscription models (13%, 71 Votes)
- Cross-game tie-ins (1%, 4 Votes)
- Sandboxes and sandbox gameplay (9%, 49 Votes)
- Nothing (5%, 27 Votes)
- Something else (tell us in the comments!) (0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 526