Massively OP’s 2020 Awards: MMO Studio of the Year


MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for MMO Studio of the Year, which was awarded to Grinding Gear Games last year. We asked our writers to consider all MMO studios as well as other online games studios we cover here in 2020, 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!

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the MMO Studio of the Year for 2020 is…


Andy McAdams: ZeniMax made it through the year without any major screw-ups and the Greymoor expansion was anemic, but generally fun I hear. So ZeniMax for literally not lighting a bag of poop on fire twirling it wildly in the air.

Brianna Royce: Cryptic, ZeniMax, Pearl Abyss. I was surprised how many people nominated for Cryptic this year before we’d even shared notes, but it was enough to convince me to throw in with them. Even setting aside the competent MMOs under its wing, it put love into Champions Online this year, and that will apparently continue. OK. Gold star.

Carlo Lacsina: Pearl Abyss. Say what you will about its games, but this company has a bunch of MMORPGs on the way. It’s got Crimson Desert, DokeV, and Plan 8. They’re all MMORPGs. And they’re next gen games too. I also appreciate the studio response to the pandemic. The first thing it did was start the Oasis event in Black Desert Online. It gave every player access to TRI-level gear for the low low price of 10 silver or so. It took out the desert debuffs to make playing in the desert less of a pain. It added some nice bonuses for employees and families during the pandemic – pet insurance, monthly cleaning, and more. It didn’t even brag about it and didn’t get much media attention! We already know how some companies use these benefits to get some good press, but PA never pushed it. It’s one of those “if you know, you know” kind of situations.

Chris Neal: Cryptic Studios, Bungie. I’m not going to sit here and admit that I’m a regular player of this studios’ offerings, but when I hop in to games like Neverwinter or Star Trek Online, I’m continually impressed by how fun they can be in spite of their trash monetization schemes. Furthermore, STO feels like a consistent and solid MMO as well as a genuine love letter to the IP. Even when it does feel a bit janky.

Eliot Lefebvre: Just the other day we were having a talk about the games run by studios that generally show a great deal of honesty, fairness, and warmth to fans. There are a few of them, and ZeniMax and Cryptic both eminently deserve the nod.

Justin Olivetti: Cryptic, Pearl Abyss, ZeniMax. I’m so glad that Cryptic got the nod this year because it never does seem to get respect for being a B-tier MMO developer. Yet its games are always so fun and accessible, receiving constant updates and giving away so much for free. Heck, even Champions Online got new content this year!

Mia DeSanzo: Square Enix.

MJ Guthrie: I say Artix Entertainment. Everything I said last year about AE still holds up. Even throughout the mess that was 2020, this studio continues treating employees and players well, avoiding drama, and continuing to make new content. The people in AE from top to bottom demonstrate integrity of a level I could only dream all the rest of the industry would adopt.

Tina Lauro Pollock: ZeniMax, Cryptic.

Tyler Edwards: I think Cryptic deserves some credit for consistently supporting its games in the long haul, and usual cash shop grumblings notwithstanding, I can’t remember it having any major blunders or controversies for quite some time.

ZeniMax and Cryptic took our award for MMO Studio of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMO studio of 2020?

  • ZeniMax (12%, 114 Votes)
  • Cryptic (4%, 39 Votes)
  • Pearl Abyss (2%, 23 Votes)
  • Square Enix (17%, 169 Votes)
  • Bungie (1%, 10 Votes)
  • Artix (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Grinding Gear Games (2%, 22 Votes)
  • Digital Extremes (1%, 11 Votes)
  • BioWare (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Gamigo (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Visionary Realms (31%, 295 Votes)
  • ArenaNet (2%, 20 Votes)
  • Jagex (1%, 13 Votes)
  • Standing Stone (2%, 17 Votes)
  • Daybreak and its core substudios (1%, 14 Votes)
  • Blizzard (6%, 56 Votes)
  • Funcom (1%, 6 Votes)
  • CCP Games (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Novaquark (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Bluehole (0%, 1 Votes)
  • ArtCraft (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Frontier (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Cloud Imperium (5%, 45 Votes)
  • Nexon (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Sega (1%, 5 Votes)
  • None (3%, 28 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (4%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 860

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How does MassivelyOP choose the winner?
Our team gathers together to nominate and discuss candidates and hopefully 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.
How does MassivelyOP populate this poll?
Poll options include all studios nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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