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

    
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NO I GET THE REAL HEADER NO BLOOPERS

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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Roger Melly

I went with Standing Stone I am happy with the amount of content they have produced this year and I am enjoying the progression servers , Square Enix and Zenimax as in recent years seem to be doing a bang up job with FF14 and ESO .

Not surprised to see CIG and Blizzard doing so badly .

Veldan
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Veldan

I still don’t consider PoE an MMO, but yeah… GGG is fantastic. They not only manage their game well (F2P, completely non-P2W with regular content updates that are getting bigger each year), they also do community interaction right. Their support is good, their forum presence is good, patch notes are extensive and crystal clear, development is explained in manifesto posts, they’re on reddit… it’s always easy to find out what is going on with the game and why. That’s rare, in any genre.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

Honestly – none of them. I don’t really care for Diablo clones anymore so neither PoE nor Asian clones like Lost Ark and their studios interest me, and Standing Stone should be under “most greedy” studios with their Legendary LOTRO relaunch (yes, I played it already on Arnor, same awful graphics, rubberbanding and Bree “instancing” just like before, same goes for weak enemies which are now easily soloable to the point of boredom, making grouping still irrelevant and same awful in-game store).

And I’m still pissed off at SE for always under-delivering with every FFXIV expansion. Where is my improved player music system, with easier music playback from files and ability to sync performance with other players in same band? LOTRO has it, surely you can do better than that ancient game? >:-[

Veldan
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Patreon Donor
Veldan

PoE is a Diablo clone and so is Lost Ark? Lol… you might want to not talk about those games if you don’t have the slightest clue.

Zulika Mi-Nam
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Zulika Mi-Nam

sumthin bout dem SSG numbers looks fishy eh?

Godnaz
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Godnaz

>.> I made several accounts just to skew the poll in my favor. Just check the IP’s of where the votes are from. Sorry. – Someone

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Oleg Chebeneev

For me it is Smilegate – studio behind Lost Ark, awesome MMO made with passion by clearly a very talented team. Its a big hit in Asia atm and hopefully will conquer western scene in near future. Pretty much everyone who played both Lost Ark and PoE says that there isnt even comparison, LA beats the crap out of PoE in every aspect.

I wonder what Standing Stones did to LoTRO and DDO that it got so many votes. I thought both of these MMOs are in stale state after aquisition.

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Roger Melly

I can’t speak for DDO but Lotro is far from stale at the moment .

I think DDO has an expansion coming out soon.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

It seems like a number of studios had pretty good years thankfully, but I’ll go with PoE as well. The way they’ve been stepping up their updates is bonkers and the current league is pretty much overwhelming with how much there is to do.

Alyn
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Alyn

I agree with MJ!

Reader
Reht

Totally agree with this award. Been having a blast with PoE this season, GGG has done a great improving and expanding the game.

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rafael12104

I couldn’t agree with MJ more. Every word is right on the money! Thank you, MJ.

And yet I voted for Square. Lol! My vote is simply to say: Hey, there is a dev who has been doing it right for years now. Oh, they learned some hard lessons on their first FFXIV, but that’s just it, they learned and aren’t sliding backward.

And that will get them my nod this year. Because while other studios bubble up and then down depending on their financials, Square’s support of their MMOs is solid even when they struggling as a company. MMOs don’t take a back seat at Square Enix.