Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Best MMO Business Model of 2017


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Business Model, which was awarded to Guild Wars 2 last year, the first time we’d given out this reader-proposed honor. This award is intended to recognize a live MMORPG of any age that has demonstrated an exemplary business model specifically in 2017, 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 MMO Business Model of 2017 is…


Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I really want to give it to Elder Scrolls since they’ve been doing great updates and a good expansion, but…. man, I’ll just go for Final Fantasy XIV. At least the subscription fee seems to be paying for content that players are passionate about, and (hopefully) the developers finally learned their lesson about how they tackle housing. I’ll also nominate WoW even if it feels like the sub may not be totally worth it, but at least the hardcores can earn Destiny 2 right?

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): The expansion of the free to play offering is a great step for EVE Online this year, though I think it could even go further than it already has. You can now play for free and fly everything up to tech 1 battleships and faction battleships, a huge improvement over the highly restrictive previous business model. As I wrote in a recent article, there are even ways for returning veteran players to get full omega subscriptions completely for free just by training and extracting skills once per month. The power of the PLEX business model continues to show its strength throughout 2017.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna): World of Warcraft has the best MMORPG model right now, it just does. Blizzard’s largess and success allow it to skate along with that sub indefinitely in a way few other studios can, and while it has a cash shop, it’s nowhere near as nasty as the cash shops it’s competing with in a genre where the F2P and B2P games have become increasingly icky. Even if you believe (as I do) the subscription is a barrier-to-entry and has incentivized slow update cadences in the past, this year the latter hasn’t proven true and WoW’s had the best and least exploitative model for actual players, full stop. And I’d also be just as happy seeing Final Fantasy XIV grab this for almost all the same reasons.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre): World of Warcraft. What. Yeah, I am as surprised as effing anybody. But not only has the game kept up steady updates through the whole year, it also moved the WoW Token into working more like PLEX, simultaneously freeing up players to earn more stuff through gameplay and making a buy-to-play option more viable for the title. Weirdly enough, this year that business model is really working itself well. This year is weird. Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIV.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster): EVE Online. Just throwing this into the pot because I’m glad that CCP finally added a free-to-play option for those cheapskates among us — and even more glad that this model was beefed up toward the end of the year.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe): I really like the Elder Scrolls Online model despite some disappointments in a couple of small areas. I don’t like the lootboxes, but like with everything bought in the ESO cash shop, it’s secondary to everything else. The crux of the ESO business model is buy-to-play. There is nothing that you can’t buy into, but if you want access to every in smaller monthly payments, then there is the subscription model.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie): This sounds really weird coming from a dedicated lover of subscriptions, but I choose Warframe, Path of Exile, and Aion. I think Digital Extremes does very well with Warframe’s business model; I have never once felt like I needed to spend money in the cash shop to be able to play, and that actually makes me want to spend there more! Offerings are cosmetic and convenience. You can build items in game instead of buying them premade in the shop. Path of Exile is the same way — I do not feel the least bit pressured to buy anything and can fully enjoy the game without the cash shop, or I can enjoy some fun cosmetics if I choose to buy. I can’t not give a nod to NA Aion, which was the first to successfully offer the most generous free-to-play experience by giving access to all the content for completely free. True, those at end-game may feel more of a need to buy convenience items from the shop, but none of it is required.

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I would have said Guild Wars 2 before ANet decided that three different payment methods for highly coveted content – including lockbox mechanics at a time when players are railing against them – was a clever idea. I’m voting for World of Warcraft or EVE Online instead this time: Clear subscription costs that can be avoided by farming in-game currency, combined with tempered cash shop options available for those who enjoy them.

World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV won our award for Best MMO Business Model of 2017. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: Which MMORPG had the best business model in 2017?

  • World of Warcraft (21%, 199 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (15%, 141 Votes)
  • EVE Online (4%, 35 Votes)
  • Warframe (11%, 104 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (8%, 76 Votes)
  • Aion (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (13%, 125 Votes)
  • Black Desert (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (11%, 106 Votes)
  • Secret World Legends (1%, 6 Votes)
  • SWTOR (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Albion Online (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Revelation Online (0%, 1 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (0%, 2 Votes)
  • TERA (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Skyforge (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (2%, 21 Votes)
  • Riders of Icarus (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Blade and Soul (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (1%, 8 Votes)
  • EverQuest II (1%, 6 Votes)
  • RIFT (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (2%, 22 Votes)
  • RuneScape (0%, 3 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Nothing (3%, 29 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments) (2%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 937

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Poll options include all games nominated plus other games we thought would be worthy.

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