Massively OP’s 2018 Awards: MMO Studio of the Year


Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for MMO Studio of the Year, which was awarded jointly to ZeniMax Online Studios and Square-Enix last year. We asked our writers to consider all MMO studios in 2018, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMO 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 the Best MMO Studio of 2018 is…

Path of Exile’s Grinding Gear Games

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Square-Enix. I’ve never jumped beyond the Final Fantasy XIV trial, but the Monster Hunter cross-over looked amazing, and the upcoming blue mage sounds fun. And, well, they didn’t make any major blunders like some of their competition did.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): It’s a tie for me this year between Grinding Gear Games and Jagex Limited for their ongoing work on Path of Exile and RuneScape respectively. Both developers have been very responsive to players this year and delivered ongoing updates despite the ages of their respective titles. Jagex in particular stands out to me this year with its great showing at RuneFest 2018 and ongoing commitment to letting players direct development of RuneScape through regular polls and early betas of features such as the mining and smithing reworks. Both GGG and Jagex really seemed to treat their games as long-term communities this year and kept up frequent communication very well throughout the year, a model I’d love to see every studio take on board.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Grinding Gear Games. Yeah, I know they don’t call Path of Exile an MMO, but it’s got a lot more MMO in it than a lot of actual MMOs at this point. More importantly, the game’s updates come with regularity and absurd levels of communication and transparency with the playerbase. My runner-up is City State Entertainment, which always gets a thumbs up from me, for pretty much the same transparency reasons. And finally, hat tip to Square Enix, for basically causing everyone to fall in love with it every year.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Grinding Gear Games. I’m rather embarrassed that Path of Exile arrived to my radar as late as it did, but man am I happy it has. Part of that fact is owing to the obvious hard work of the team at Grinding Gear Games, which seems to put in immense effort and grind into the game. Much like the studio’s namesake, really. Runner-Up: Square-Enix. Talk about consistency, the folks behind XIV are some of the most driven and clearly hard-working folks in the business.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Path of Exile is not my game, but gosh, Grinding Gear Games just seems to be a class act from top to bottom. I wish it were my game because of how well the dang thing is managed as a whole.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’m going with Jagex, which packed a year full of two RuneScape games’ worth of content as well as got mobile versions out and is working on another MMO.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Grinding Gear Games seems to have been ceaselessly at work delivering new content updates for Path of Exile, and they’ve managed to maintain a free-to-play game that doesn’t fall into the pay-to-win trap, which is something worth applauding in my book.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I give this award to Grinding Gear Games. Not only does this studio continue to provide a free game (with a cosmetics cash shop) and reliably launch leagues and large updates like clockwork, it brought together four fun leagues into one and kept a major shift in its story secret. How often do devs manage to surprise you with anything? (Other than blunders, of course.) More than that, I have appreciated how the studio treats folks, players and press alike. There’s a level of respect I feel from that studio that just makes it top notch. When I talk to GGG, the appreciation of its fans and desire to keep making things to make the game more enjoyable for all levels of play are felt. And as far as getting information that is clear and detailed to press, GGG is the absolute best! Instead of giving out as little information as possible, Grinding Gear almost gives out too much (and no, never change!). I wish all studios could be like GGG. And if not GGG, then be like Digital Extremes! DE’s respect for its players is palpable. Fans are everything to this company, and you can feel it in everything from the integration of player-designed items to the annual fan expo TennoCon to the constant stretching of boundaries to bring players more, more, and more!. I also have a special respect for how DE does things it feels is right and ignores the “industry”; keep it up Digital Extremes!

How does Massively OP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together over the course of a few days to discuss candidates and ideally settle on a consensus winner. We don’t have a hard vote, but we do include written commentary from every writer who submitted it on time so that you can see where some of us differed, what our secondary picks were, and why we personally nominated what we did (or didn’t). The site’s award goes to the staff selection, but we’ll include both it and the community’s top nomination in our debrief in January.

Grinding Gear Games won our award for Best MMO Studio of 2018. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMO studio of 2018?

  • Grinding Gear (16%, 117 Votes)
  • Square Enix (12%, 88 Votes)
  • Jagex (1%, 9 Votes)
  • ZeniMax (9%, 65 Votes)
  • City State Entertainment (2%, 18 Votes)
  • Digital Extremes (7%, 51 Votes)
  • Novaquark (1%, 7 Votes)
  • CCP Games (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Blizzard (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Funcom (2%, 16 Votes)
  • ArenaNet (4%, 33 Votes)
  • Standing Stone (34%, 250 Votes)
  • En Masse (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Frontier (0%, 3 Votes)
  • ArtCraft (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Cloud Imperium (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Perfect World and Cryptic (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Kakao and Pearl Abyss (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Nothing (3%, 23 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 662

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Poll options include all studios nominated plus others we thought deserved consideration!
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