Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Best MMO Trend of 2017

Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Trend, which was awarded to the trend of adding content scaling to MMOs last year. This year, all trends were back on the table. 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 Trend of 2017 is…


Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Nostalgia with substance! Guild Wars 2’s appeal to Nightfall veterans combined with shiny mounts with unique features, Elder Scrolls Online’s appeal to Morrowind fans with the war bear, er, warden class, Pokemon Go’s Generation 1 and 2 legendary ‘mon finally added to the game through the new raid feature (when it works)… I just hope for fans’ sake that World of Warcraft (again) trying to focus on the old Horde vs. Alliance chestnut will pay off in 2018. Runner up: Content scaling. This won last year for a reason. I prefer horizontal leveling, so this is one step closer to that.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): Treating games as communities. It feels as if there’s a stronger focus this year on studios maintaining communities rather than trying to grow fast at the expense of all else. More devs are communicating with players, there seems to be more openness and transparency, and even companies like Blizzard are listening to fans on issues like the Vanilla server. The genre feels like it’s maturing a lot this year, and more studios are viewing their games as long term prospects.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna): I was on the fence about this, but Andrew put nostalgia into perspective for me. It’s really hard to argue against the idea that nostalgia was a big trend for the genre this year, from Guild Wars 2 to Elder Scrolls Online to World of Warcraft – even the EverQuest franchise got throwback expansions this year. And that’s without even mentioning throwback MMOs like Pantheon. I will totally bow to my colleagues and roll with community, though. Games like Ship of Heroes and Pantheon are certainly making community a real pillar of their design.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre): A community is never a reason why an MMO is good or not; the game is the game on its own. But a good community helps make a good game (or even a great one) into a more memorable place for a time. The more companies realize that community ties are worth celebrating in addition to the actual game systems, the more we receive reinforcement for one of the major social branches that keeps us invested in the first place.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster): Words are cheap, but we kept seeing dev teams eat crow over a lack of transparency and communication — while others stepped up to deliver more or be more consistent in their output this year. It’s especially important for upcoming MMOs and ones that are in their early days, but experienced studios (Trion, anyone?) aren’t off the hook.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie): It may not be the biggest trend this year, but it is certainly the best: building community. Adding and improving features that help build and foster community is precisely what gaming needs, and different companies and games are rising to the occasion. I include in this things like the ability to scale in level to play with anyone, improved grouping and group finding features, and better guild mechanics. Just a couple of examples are Secret World Legends and ArcheAge’s group and raid finder interfaces, and Trove’s club-centric update. And you can’t forget the companies that put building up a positive community as the top goal: I’m looking at you, Ship of Heroes!

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I wholeheartedly agree with Andrew here: All things nostalgic have made a massive comeback in several key MMOs this year and it really has marked how the modern MMO expansion is developed. It applies to so many MMOs, including my beloved GW2, and is such a well-received trend that it must get a vote.

The renewed focus on MMO communities and developer communication took our award for Best MMO Trend of 2017. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG trend of 2017?

  • Community focus and communication (17%, 69 Votes)
  • Nostalgia-driven content updates (10%, 41 Votes)
  • Content scaling (13%, 55 Votes)
  • Console ports (4%, 17 Votes)
  • Skin gambling and lockbox crackdowns (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Big expansions for core MMORPGs (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Private servers and shards (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Renewed interest in subscription models (11%, 47 Votes)
  • Sandboxes and sandbox gameplay (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Anti-toxicity efforts (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Nothing (8%, 31 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 411

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Poll options include all trends nominated plus a few more.

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Alex Malone

I’m going with nostalgia driven content.

Community-focus and communication? Hasn’t happened yet. Communication from indie studios remains good, but existing devs are still terrible. As for community focus? Lol! I can’t think of a single thing that has happened in 2017 to actual help existing communities. MMOs remain solo focused and adding new tools to help form groups does not help form communities.

Content scaling? Hardly a trend, its been here a while and it sucks. Horizontal progression is what is needed, not scaling.

Lockbox crackdown, sub models, interest in sandbox gameplay…..none of these things have happened yet! They get talked about a lot, but nothing has actually happened. We don’t have more sandbox elements, sub model hasn’t returned and lockboxes are still rampant, the crackdown has yet to happen.

What MMOs have been ported to consoles this year? Or what console MMOs have been ported to PC? I’m guessing I must have missed these entirely….

Private servers and shards? What’s been happening here compared to previous years? I know private servers are a big thing for non-MMOs, but didn’t think there had been much movement in 2017 within the MMO genre.


To those of you that answered, “nothing”. I get it. If you look at the year overall for MMORPGs it is hard to find a trend worth mentioning.

With all due respect to MoP and others, communities and coms between devs isn’t a trend. It is a cycle. Seriously. We see it bubble up and get better and then, it slides right back down the drain after the first significant controversy.

And, to be honest, given Bungie’s continuing bullshit, and it is continuing, I wonder how many other devs haven’t pulled the same tricks. Doesn’t garner a lot of faith in my book.

But my answer isn’t “nothing.” There has actually been progress and a trend established fighting what I hate most, toxicity as Sray mentions below.

Gone is the bullshit “emergent gameplay”. Remember that once lauded maxim which let players basically grief to their hearts content? And it has happened quietly and happily in several quarters.

There are several examples of this trend, but I’ll mention only two briefly for the sake of this wall of text.

First good old ArchAge, the king of emergent gameplay and toxic defender. All of that griefing that used to go on, blocking bridges etc. it is no longer in the rule set. Scams in chat and otherwise are no longer tolerated. Rules are back!

And then there is BnS who suffered all of the vagaries of any F2P game. With the implementation of a new reporting system and strict enforcement of their guidelines in gen-chat. Trolling, hate speech, and homophobic and racist slurs and spamming gold farmers are almost gone.

I’ve seen similar improvements in SWTOR and great efforts in BDO and other games as well.

So my favorite trend is the fight to eliminate toxicity. It is a hard fight and ongoing, but things improved this year. Let’s hope it continues.

Thomas Zervogiannis

Even though it was equally a trend in the past two years, I voted for “Sandboxes and sandbox gameplay”. I am really grateful that BDO and E:D brought sandbox and sandbox-like elements to the forefront with substantial success, and I congratulate their developers for that, regardless of criticizing the games for their flaws – a lot, mostly out of interest in them and in an effort to try and be constructive and rational.

Finally game studios try something different from what essentially was a re-skin of the same game. Compare for example how differently a themepark plays from another and how different EVE or Albion plays from BDO and E:D. The genre really needs this variety, and it is good to see so many different concepts in the development pipeline.

Kickstarter Donor


While it didn’t quite hook me when I first tried it shortly after release, I revisited BDO last week because I just craved a different, more freeform playstyle. I’m enjoying it very much right now, it just took a while getting used to. It’s a pretty complex game, and for me that’s a good thing.

Also still playing EVE. After many years I finally found a way to play it casually and still have fun with PvP regularly.

Thomas Zervogiannis

Awesome Zac Mcracken avatar btw. That took me yeeears back! :D
I am really missing those amazing Lucas adventure games.


I voted nothing. I see the western market neither improving or *trying*. The mainstream ever so slowly turned it’s back on MMO’s and it’s not suprising that we have to look to the Asian market for exciting news and announcements.

Of course MMO’s are still played and made but not like the time when the whole industry tried to follow in WoW’s footsteps.

Nick // Genghis

It’s sad, but realistically the only truly successful, time-tested Western MMOs are: WoW, GW2, and ESO. All based around established IPs with a relatively set amount of ‘features’ and what’s included in them. I hardly see any developers striking out and trying something even remotely new surrounding the MMO-sphere.

Here’s hoping Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Chronicles of Elyria, and Ashes of Creation are not total shit birds…

Denice J. Cook

I voted for content scaling, because not only does it lend more flexibility to leveling alts, but it simplifies the “mentor down/sidekick up” concept of newbies playing with seasoned vets.

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Patreon Donor

I voted content scaling, but what I really mean is keeping the whole world relevant. That is, a move to avoid throwaway zones and repurpose them with new content and quests suitable to your level when you return (phasing). This scratches a nostalgia itch, but also recognizes that things have changed. WoW tipped their toes in this with Legion, but I hope the trend continues on a larger scale.

Sally Bowls

I would vote for nostalgia.

A community focus is probably a good thing. But I contrast and disagree with community communication.

“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

I just don’t think that communication from game companies works out to be that positive. The realities of development and finance are just a recipe for reddit and youtube rants. Features are going to be cut to make dates for game and non-game software. AAA budgets will trend to go up. AAA games are not going to be sold for just a one-time $60. Offline games are less likely to be made due to gamers’ piracy. … Nice marketing promotions are fine; but honest and accurate communication? … IDK.

Patreon Donor

piracy has been at an all time low for a long time. if anything the high incidence of piracy would be with intrinsically drm’ed MMO’s.


Pretty bad year when being less shitty to each other is the best trend in the genre. Voted Nothing on this one.

I don’t really agree that MMO studios are focusing more on communication and community than they previously had. A lot of games don’t even have their own forums anymore, instead relying on Reddit and Twitter to reach out to their audience. It’s pretty sad when I have to go through a third party website to get information about a game, especially when that information is gathered in bits and pieces by the community rather than shared by the developer.

Oleg Chebeneev

I didnt know content scaling was a trend, but I definetly approve this. Been asking for years for this in WoW

Cosmic Cleric

Thank God for private servers, so that I can continue to play my WoW disc priest pre-Legion.