One of my favorite things to do every year is drill down the top articles on the site for our readers. I don’t mean the most controversial, the most fun, the most important, or the most commented-on; I mean the single articles that actually brought in the most hits. And what I find most interesting is that most “popular” aren’t always the ones we expect! As we’ve noted before, a well-timed link from a major website – Reddit, Fark, or a game dev – can elevate an entire month. (That’s why we’re so grateful when our fans share our work across social networks!)
Just remember that the list favors posts made early in the year (and in some cases, evergreen articles from earlier years) as later pieces haven’t had as much time to percolate, so when you do see big articles from December on a list like this, that means a popular post indeed!
There’s no doubt that coverage of leaks on Reddit made for major news this year. Both the the Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire leaks and Secret Worlds Legends beta leaks made our top 10; in both cases, the studios had withheld information from players long enough that internal testers said they felt compelled to break their NDAs. But both games also broke into the top count for other reasons: Secret World Legends’ reboot reveal and Guild Wars 2’s Head of the Snake episode.
Final Fantasy XIV isn’t nearly as big in the west as it is in Japan, but when we interview Naoki Yoshida, we get clicks. That man is beloved. So it was with our interviews with him at E3 and PAX East.
The spreadsheets in space
EVE Online made a lot of headlines this year, particularly after CCP turned out almost the entire community team for the game after exiting the VR market. But what actually performed the best for us was Brendan’s epic coverage of the summer player war and his coverage of the agency PvE overhaul.
Elder Scrolls Online was big news for us at the start of the year as well thanks to two massive releases that’ll surely be hard to top next year: Homestead (’twas our housing preview editorial that made the list) and Morrowind (’twas our Warden class deep dive there).
Traditionally, SMITE giveaways go wild and put the most drain on our resources. That’s why I was surprised to see that Paladins, not SMITE, poked its way into our top list this year. And it wasn’t a fluke, since it happened multiple times, with both the open and the closed betas.
NCsoft must surely be kicking itself over dredging up the ghost of City of Heroes in Master X Master, introducing the longstanding grudge to a whole new era of MMORPG players, but that’s exactly what happened, and our article summarizing the debacle was circulated far and wide.
Our article breaking the news that Gazillion was sunsetting Marvel Heroes early and without warning, and prior to that our explainer piece sounding the first alarms, also floated to the top thanks to heavy quotation on mainstream sites that still have the decency to credit their sources and vias. Ahem.
Lord of the Rings Online remains surprisingly popular on the site; Justin’s interview with Standing Stone and his guide to starting fresh in LOTRO both performed exceptionally well this year for what you might think is a small classic MMO.
Even when we published Andrew’s E3 interview with Pokemon Go studio Niantic, we knew how staggeringly rare it was for the studio to give an interview to a gaming (rather than tech) site at all, never mind an MMORPG site, so it didn’t surprise us how many people clicked on it.
And no list of our wildly popular stuff would be complete without noting some of our most evergreen articles – those from past years that just keep circulating because they’re controversial or linkable or just still relevant! Our Perfect Tens on the MMORPGs coming in 2017, the mobile MMOs coming in 2017, the healthiest live MMOs at the end of 2016, how to turn real money into MMO money, and top “mature audiences only” MMOs. Our healthiest live MMOs from 2015 is still making the rounds, too!
I fully expect our updated editions of all of these, which have been rolling out throughout December and into January 2018, will top the list next time. In fact, our list of the healthiest live MMOs at the end of 2017, which came out just a few weeks ago, has already rocketed toward the top – same with our Daily Grind on the best MMO to start in as of 2017 – which should tell you how important a topic this is to MMORPG players.
What isn’t on this list
Lockboxes, Star Citizen, and classic servers for World of Warcraft. They’re all huge stories, but they’re the kind that drive lots and lots of articles and comments rather than coagulate into one article for hits. Stay tuned for a second piece on the most commented-on articles for comparison!