Massively OP’s Best of 2016 Awards: MMORPG Studio of the Year


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016, which was awarded to Square-Enix last year.

We asked our writers to consider major MMORPG studios in 2016, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMORPG genre this year specifically. 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 Studio of 2016 is…



Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Admittedly, I didn’t play Elder Scrolls Online this year, but ZeniMax seems to have been listening to criticism. I say that as someone who was annoyed as heck when ESO was first coming out and the company seemingly ignored MMO vets and news outlets. One Tamriel in particular felt like a move I wish more MMOs would make, so kudos to ZeniMax on that. I also like what Blizzard’s non-MMO titles are doing, NCSoft’s MXM appeals to me more than what they’re doing with Guild Wars 2 at the moment, and Trion… man, how the mighty have fallen.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Blizzard. It’s been a hell of a successful year for Blizzard, with World of Warcraft reaching over 10 million subscribers in the wake of the Legion expansion and Overwatch making a massive splash in the online shooter scene. There has been some backlash against Blizzard this year over the Nostalrius vanilla private server drama, but it has otherwise been an extremely impressive year.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): City State Entertainment; there is simply no MMORPG studio that is as transparent and cordial with both its fans and its detractors than the folks behind Camelot Unchained. Then again, it’s a lot easier to win the love of the fans when your game isn’t out yet! Easy runner-up for me: ZeniMax deserves it this year with its reinvigoration of Elder Scrolls Online, from killer DLC to One Tamriel and next year, housing. They listened.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): ZeniMax Online Studios. Really? Yeah, it surprises me, too. It’s not like the studio has done nothing questionable this year, of course, as the lockbox controversy is just starting to rumble, but there’s been a good string of communication and crowd-pleasing updates, and a real sense of looking forward to making the game better in the long run for the game. We’ve got level scaling, we’re getting housing, and the whole shebang is very comfortably moving along; that deserves a note of praise. Especially after some… poor relations after the game first launched.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Cryptic. I definitely admire how much content Cryptic pumps out for its games, with Neverwinter getting multiple modules, Star Trek Online enjoying a new expansion, and even beleaguered Champions seeing some love. Plus the studio pushed NW and STO out to more consoles, which was a major initiative this year.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): If we were choosing the studio based on its overall success in MMO-type games, I would have to give it to Blizzard. This being a vote for the best MMORPG studio, however, I have to pick a studio that has been extraordinarily consistent in its communication with the playerbase and media. The studio would also have to be consistent about listening to the players when it comes to filling community desires. It would also have to have a successful game and perform above and beyond what is expected. I can only choose ZeniMax Online Studios. Its community management and coverage with the press has been more than nearly every other studio. They’ve given the community what it’s wanted by giving us, the Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and One Tamriel. Despite some lag issues that all games have in highly populated areas, the game is consistently gorgeous and runs well on most computers. Well done, ZeniMax.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Funcom, this is for you! You were beaten down and near the brink, but you never gave up. You bounced back, you continue to try new things in development with The Secret World, and you are broadening your horizons by jumping into the survival landscape. I’ve never wanted a studio to succeed as much as you. You may struggle, but you don’t lack heart.

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): Blizzard has to win this award after such a strong year! Between the great success of Legion and the uptake of Overwatch too, alongside the persistence of its other existing IPs, I have to take my hat off to the work that has been done by Blizzard in 2016, especially in the face of a few veteran losses to the roster over the last twelve months.

ZeniMax won our award for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG studio of 2016?

  • ZeniMax (32%, 465 Votes)
  • Blizzard (13%, 196 Votes)
  • City State Entertainment (5%, 70 Votes)
  • Cryptic/PWE (2%, 26 Votes)
  • Funcom (4%, 53 Votes)
  • ArenaNet (4%, 53 Votes)
  • CCP Games (2%, 31 Votes)
  • Kakao (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Square Enix (9%, 134 Votes)
  • BioWare/EA (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Nexon (0%, 2 Votes)
  • En Masse (0%, 1 Votes)
  • NCsoft (0%, 6 Votes)
  • (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Daybreak (1%, 12 Votes)
  • Trion Worlds (1%, 12 Votes)
  • Carbine (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Turbine (1%, 12 Votes)
  • ArtCraft (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Jagex (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Cloud Imperium (1%, 16 Votes)
  • Frontier (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Grinding Gear (19%, 274 Votes)
  • Gazillion (1%, 13 Votes)
  • None of them (2%, 35 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (1%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,470

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Poll options include all studios nominated plus several others active in the west.

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