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


MassivelyOP’s end-of-the-year awards for 2020 continue today with our award for Indie MMO of the Year, which was awarded jointly to Villagers & Heroes and Project Gorgon last year. All indie MMOs, crowdfunded or not, are eligible for this award; the game needn’t actually have launched yet, though it does need to be in some form of playable state. 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 Indie MMO of the Year for 2020 is…


A quick note before you get to the explainers: We picked Albion for this award weeks ago, before its studio Sandbox Interactive was bought out by a much larger company. We’ve decided to stick with our choice, even though it probably won’t be eligible again, as it was fairly termed an indie for its first several years of life.

Andy McAdams: Albion Online. I think it’s been a really solid, if a bit under the radar performer. I even gave it a whirl on mobile and I had fun, but I didn’t get very far as it didn’t hold my attention very well. That’s likely due to no one else in my circle of gamer friends playing than an actual deficiency in the game itself.

Brianna Royce: I am so flippin’ happy Albion Online has finally won something. It’s just big enough to actually be good and pump out respectable content but too small to hang with the big five. This award was practically made for it, and I’m so glad the stars aligned this year as it literally blew up in population and actually went on a hiring spree. During a pandemic. Wild. My runner-up would’ve been Wurm Online.

Carlo Lacsina: Mirage Online. I play this game whenever I get a chance. It’s a fun little game that’s just been chugging along. It’s small and old, but I can’t ignore the heart in this game. And I’m someone who’s all about the heart. I’ve played enough mobile MMOs to see how companies exploit the genre’s gameplay loop, and something like this is a breath of fresh air… even if that fresh air is 19 years old now. But for it to stay fresh for that long, it’s because the game is a well-loved treasure of our genre. Play it now, you’re doing yourself a favor.

Chris Neal: Albion Online, No Man’s Sky. While this game isn’t really quite to my taste (I just want to craft, not be forced into your murder blender zones), Albion Online stands out to me for its update cadence. I also have to nod at the game’s attempts at shaking up its open world PvP Outlands area to keep people on their toes. PvPers love that, right? Totally down for fair fights and shifting metas? No?

Eliot Lefebvre: Albion Online let me write an update post to song lyrics again, so it wins.

Justin Olivetti: Albion, Project Gorgon, Wurm Online. It’s very tough for PvP sandboxes to overcome their ruthless reputation that has dragged down so many contemporaries, but Albion seems to have done that. Its secret? Lots of continued game design and an attractive-looking world that isn’t mired in greys and browns.

Mia DeSanzo: Wurm Online.

MJ Guthrie: I’ll lend my voice to some others here and go with Sandbox Interactive’s title. Despite all that was 2020, we heard quite a bit from Albion Online, which grew and developed at a pace that seems to belie this past year.

Sam Kash: Albion Online. The game is just so jam-packed with content, and the studio keeps pumping in more. You can craft, do PvE dungeons, and even complete in big PvP battles. It’s extremely accessible too.

Tyler Edwards: Not an MMO per se, but I’d say Wolcen.

Albion Online took our award for Indie MMO of the Year. What’s your pick?

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

  • Albion Online (12%, 63 Votes)
  • Wurm Online (3%, 18 Votes)
  • Mirage Online (0%, 0 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (10%, 53 Votes)
  • Project Gorgon (8%, 43 Votes)
  • Villagers and Heroes (2%, 11 Votes)
  • AdventureQuest 3D (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Star Citizen (13%, 69 Votes)
  • Elite Dangerous (4%, 22 Votes)
  • Dual Universe (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Ship of Heroes (3%, 16 Votes)
  • Ashes of Creation (28%, 143 Votes)
  • Crowfall (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Legends of Aria (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Fractured (0%, 2 Votes)
  • OrbusVR (0%, 2 Votes)
  • Last Oasis (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Path of Exile (7%, 36 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 452

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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 games nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.

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Wandering Mist

And once again we have a list of games that aren’t mmorpgs – No Man’s Sky, Elite Dangerous and Path of Exile are not mmorpgs. If Path of Exile is an mmorpg, then so is Call of Duty. Please do some research before you post these ridiculous lists.

Damon Anderson
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Damon Anderson

I couldn’t agree more. If there’s an MMO that lived up to what UO was for me way back when it’s Albion Online. I’m not a pvper, I believe my character had one player kill and I am not really sure how that happened lol, but the sandbox world, combined with goals to work towards, very well done skill based system, fun gathering and crafting, and PvE content both group and solo make it for me the best MMO experience I have had in a very long time. If there’s an MMO I would like to see ported to console it’s Albion, either way I would for sure go back to it.

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No Man’s Sky keeps improving the game long past the point of redeeming itself. I wish I had more time to play it!

Also, Star Stable Online needed to be on this list. It had a great year, introducing crafting and a new zone and releasing updates weekly. Also, the holiday events for Halloween and now Christmas were really something else!


I think the list should have been restricted to only released indie MMOs, wannabe games like SC, Ashes and the like belong in a “maybe one day” category.


Can Project Gorgon just get this award by default? It seems like every year when I think about Indies this is the one that scratches that itch.


I am sticking with No Man’s Sky. Hello Games is still giving it all they got to make an absolutely stellar product.

Not strictly an MMO (yet), but just to good to pass on.

And, not charging an additional cent for it.

10/10 for Hello Games!


It is amazing what the game is now. If only lies and expectations could have been kept at a minimum from the start. Everyone would be playing this game!


There are more than one that deserve a vote, but Fractured impressed me cause it has depth, is quite fun already and I encountered no bugs during playtest despite its still a bit early in its development


wait a minute! shroud of the avatar isn’t even on this list

Oleg Chebeneev

who would vote for it anyways? :D

Oleg Chebeneev

If we consider SC an indie, then ofc its a winner. 2020 was a big year for the game with lots of updates that company managed to bring according to shedule.

No Man’s Sky looks good too.

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As much as I love Path of Exile they are not an indie anymore and should not be on this list, they are a Tencent owned company.

GGG do like to ignore the Tencent thing and still do the we are indie in how they communicate and promote themselves but they are owned and backed by a company worth $68 billion.

I don’t think this tweet was about GGG but the sentiment still applies and kind of sums it up for me: