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


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Studio of 2017, which was awarded to ZeniMax last year. We asked our writers to consider major MMORPG studios in 2017, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMORPG genre this year specifically. 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 Studio of 2017 is…


Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Oh man, this one’s actually hard, but I’m going with ZeniMax again this year. I had some serious issues with their customer support when Morrowind launched, but the developers are awesome and the designers seem as if they know their audience and MMO history by avoiding certain traps *cough* housingcrisis *cough*.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): ArenaNet. By only a narrow margin this year after the mount skin thing.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna): I always go for City State because while I’m still twiddling my thumbs over beta one, the communication line to that studio just cannot be beaten. As for live MMO studio, I’m gonna go for Square this year. Square’s communication and gumption for just doing the right thing the right way (housing issues aside) are so good that I really wish I were a Final Fantasy person.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre): Square-Enix. Some years, there are lots of studios that are doing good work. Other years, it seems like every studio has something horribly dumb that it’s been doing. There are really only a handful of studios I can think of for this list that even deserve to be nominated. Square, meanwhile, manages to keep updating its self-described maintenance mode game, provides plenty of events and player engagement, and generally does everything right; even its screw-ups involve the studio taking it on the chin, apologizing, and striving to do better. Which is really weird for me to type, but here we are.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster): ZeniMax. Oddly enough, I think Blizzard’s my #2 pick this year with WoW Classic, a great Hearthstone expansion, and frequent World of Warcraft updates, but ZeniMax gets my respect for regular updates, a well-received expansion, and the housing update. Plus that game’s lockbox and business model scene doesn’t seem as shady as some.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie): I cannot decide between Digital Extremes and Grinding Gear Games for best studio. Digital Extremes has amazing community involvement and interaction. The team shows its investment in the game and the community all the time (and not just at its convention). Digital Extremes streams multiple times a week and covers all of Warframe’s platforms. Not only that, the devs really interact with the audience during these. The team puts plenty of heart and effort into improving the game and offering players more — just look at Plains of Eidolon. And Grinding Gear Games may not have a ton of streams or a convention, but it is the most consistent company for putting out regular content. Besides offering new content and leagues, I really feel that the devs listen to the wants of their specific community and add things to benefit them. You also can’t ignore that these two studios have the best payment models out there!

Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): I’m echoing the ZeniMax votes for this because it just feels right: Solid support, an ear to the ground for new trends, and frequently demonstrating that player feedback is important keeps ZeniMax at the top of the pile.

ZeniMax and Square-Enix won our award for Best MMO Studio of 2017. What’s your pick?

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

  • ZeniMax (20%, 168 Votes)
  • Square-Enix (20%, 163 Votes)
  • ArenaNet (10%, 81 Votes)
  • City State (3%, 22 Votes)
  • Digital Extremes (5%, 44 Votes)
  • Grinding Gear (6%, 49 Votes)
  • BioWare (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Kakao (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Blizzard (12%, 102 Votes)
  • CCP (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Funcom (2%, 13 Votes)
  • Sandbox Interactive (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Trion (1%, 5 Votes)
  • (0%, 1 Votes)
  • En Masse (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Standing Stone (4%, 34 Votes)
  • Daybreak (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Perfect World - Cryptic (1%, 9 Votes)
  • NCsoft West (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Carbine (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Jagex (0%, 3 Votes)
  • ArtCraft (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Frontier (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Cloud Imperium (3%, 22 Votes)
  • Portalarium (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Bungie (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Nothing (4%, 35 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments) (1%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 822

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


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As much as i like ESO, the bad taste from “Morrowind isn’t DLC but an expansion, therefor not part of the sub” still hasn’t hasn’t quite gone.
You want to find an excuse, find one that doesn’t insult people’s intelligence, you’re supposed to be the creative ones.
My vote went to Grinding Gear Games.


Square Enix set the release schedule precedent for FF XIV, that Blizz knew it had to adopt for WoW if it wanted that game’s health to survive for the future. That’s saying something.


I choose ArenaNet. They added a lot good content this year. Living Story Season 3, expansion Path of Fire and Season 4.

I would not choose Zenimax because Morrowind was definitely not a expansion. It was a DLC for a expansion price. :/


I can not accept the premise of a company getting a new reputation …..every year. Reputations are a reflection of the true culture and ways of doing business and competence. A new culture..a new way of thinking and doing business does not morph into place every 365 days. FOR ME..Zenimax and Funcom get coal This year they and are at the bottom of any list of companies . I would never roll the dice on with a new game or addition and my hard earned money with these companies.( 2017 saw zero significant mmog game playing for me. I just saw nothing that held my interest despite throwing my moneyat some games that proved to be loosers)
I have just started to play “LIFE IS FEUDAl ” (an old school,hard core game of conflict and survival set in the middle ages)and am anxious to see how that works out.


Off topic question, why do none of these awards get posted to social media like all of the other articles do?

Fervor Bliss

Kakao is adding lots of content this year, plus stated they wanted BDO to last for decades.
Well worth the $10 to play.

Rolan Storm

I agree on both, though only can vouch for one – I no longer play FFXIV.


Zenimax/Squeenix/Blizzard all seem like they’ve done a good job this year, but since I’ve mostly been on FFXIV this year I voted for them. Blizzard though has been doing a solid job across the board with their games, especially their updates they’ve been doing to Heroes of the Storm IMO. Legion story-wise at least looks like a blast, and I’ve been tempted to hop back in to see everything added over the past year-ish that I haven’t touched the present game. They also finally announced Classic which is great, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.


Daybreak was too obvious eh?

I voted Square-Enix personally, they have done a remarkable job with FF14 when by all rights right after its initial launch it should have just died. Instead they have actually made it a really enjoyable game, one I’ve put a few hours into .


I like ESO a lot but am I the only one who feels like their in-game shop is too much?

Want a house? Buy it.
Want a cool mount? Buy it.
Pets? But it.
Costumes? Buy it?

There is almost nothing to earn in-game. I feel like they are nickel and diming me. I was playing with my girlfriend and she took a look at the house prices and was like ” these f**king prices are insane”
And loot boxes on top of it.

I voted for Blizzard, after years of people moaning about a sub I truly believe that it’s the lesser of the evils between a sub and an in-game shop, especially when one becomes as predatory as ESOs one. My two cents.

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Want a house? Get a free one or buy it with ingame gold. No, most prices are not crazy considering how easy it is to make gold in this game. Only the crazy ones are crazily expensive.
Want a cool mount? Buy it with ingame gold like usual or get it through random free crates that are given out.
Pets? Get some of the coolest free by doing quests or get them through random free crates that are given out.
Costumes? Get some free from quests or get them through random free crates that are given out.

I dislike crown crates as much as the next guy, but saying that there is almost nothing to earn in-game is not true. Should they make more content available from outside of the shop? Sure. Every game should. But people have gone way overboard about this crown crates/cash shop thing. This is just like politics. The moment you stop sticking to the facts, you start losing credibility, even if in some cases you end up winning the elections…


There is a way to earn the cool mounts and houses with in-game gold? Like the wolfs and bears and all that?

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I guess that depends on what you would call “cool”.

First, there is a way to earn special mounts for free during the many events where you just have to play to receivre free crown crates. I’ve received many mounts this way.
Now, I consider that the horse mounts are actually the less ugliest in this game (just pay attention to how bears, wolves, and others are designed and compare them to real animals, it’s pretty funny), so if your definition of “cool” is different than mine, then maybe you’ll have to wait for the free crown crates. And again, there is litteraly zero benefit to a rainbow-puking horse when compared to mounts you can buy with golds.

About houses, except if you’re looking for the ridiculous palaces that cost an extraordinary amount of gold, yes I stand by my comment, they’re not that expensive considering how easy it is to acquire gold in this game. But as always, if you’re only going after the most expansives rainbow-firing mounts and palatial houses, then yeah you’ll have to spend some money. Noone is pointing a gun to your head to buy especially this kind of fluff, nor do you need it.


Well, what you consider cool and what I consider cool is different the horse mount being the nicest in your opinion is just that.

I don’t know the crates made me not like the game quite as much, I should be rewarded by playing the game not by getting a crate and maybe getting what I want out of it. There is no defense for them doing it this way. Destiny 2 is facing the same issue and people are rightfully pissed ESO shouldn’t get a pass on this.

I never knew you could actually buy houses with real gold, I looked at the crown store saw them and thought that’s the only way to get them, that’s on me.

However, in my opinion, they are pushing the ingame cosmetics a bit too hard on the people and leaving them with mostly no other option but to shell out money.

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Look, if you think that paying for a sub should allow you to benefit from everything the game has to offer without spending any more money, even on the cosmetic side, then we have no beef here. I 100% agree. To me, this sub + cash shop system is far from ok.

Now, if you think that you should be able to play without paying for anything, and that even the useless stuff should be handed to you, then I beg to differ.

I’ve been reading the official forums a lot these days and I just wanted to point out in my answer that things are ugly, but not as ugly as they are often portrayed. I do not think ZoS should get a pass on crown crates. To me, gambling is not ok, especially when kids are targeted. I just think that painting a different image of the game than what it really is does not solve anything.


What are you on about now? I bought the game, didn’t I? I paid.

And I never ones said that I should be entitled to everything did I? I said that it feels like there is very little to earn in a game. I can play wow and go mount hunting and armor hunting to transmog, go look for pets.

In TESO all of that is mostly gained through paying money.

How did I paint it differently? There are loot crates. There is an ability to purchase mounts through money and only money as there is no way to get them. There are even loot crate exclusive mounts. There are other things like portable bank and shopkeeper. There is plenty to buy in TESO which you can’t earn in the game any other way. Why are you defending that?

Those are the reasons why I wouldn’t name ZoS a top dev this year, they have become extremely predatory. Where are Blizzard gives you the WHOLE game for the sub.

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Your original post was about houses, mounts, pets and costumes being only available for money in ESO. Which is not true. You elaborated, and so did I. At this point of the conversation, if you still think I am defending this specific business model, then I’m just gonna wish you to enjoy the game of your choice. That’s all we’re looking for after all.

Emiliano Lozada

Oh shit! I didn’t know they were all purchasable. That’s cool thanks.

Emiliano Lozada

There are some crown store exclusives like the island and stuff but the vast majority can be obtained with gold. Pretty cheap at gold prices too if you ask me tbh.