End-of-year Eleven: The healthiest live MMOs at the end of 2022

    
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When you’re investing a whole lot of time and (potentially) money into MMORPGs, you want to make sure that your game isn’t going belly-up tomorrow or already sliding into obscurity. The “health” of an online game is of great importance to many players, which is why we at MassivelyOP like to put together a list of the titles we see as most stable and thriving as of the end of the year.

So what is a healthy MMO? It’s a game that boasts a significant population of players, is seeing active development, had a generally good year, is profitable for the studio, and has a potential for a positive future. It’s no guarantee, of course, but if you’re the type that like to stack the odds in your favor, then plant your butt in one of the following titles and enjoy an increased sense of security!

Again.

Final Fantasy XIV

Even in a year without an expansion, FFXIV showed why it deserves to be on this list. With a few meaty updates (including the fan-favorite player islands), strong sales and profits, a passionate development team, and an enthusiastic community that might as well be a marketing arm of Square Enix, this MMO boasts stability and high engagement. There’s also a lot of speculation and excitement about the next expansion and where the devs are taking the storyline following Endwalker’s conclusion.

Pawnch.

Albion Online

One of the biggest crowdfunding successes, Albion Online continues to knock it out of the park with continuous content updates. The PvP-heavy MMORPG may not be for everyone with its competitive focus and unique visual style, but there are plenty who have been flocking to its banner over the past several years.

Lost Ark

Lost Ark may be the newest game on this list, but it most definitely deserves a spot following its huge launch last spring and subsequently high population numbers on Steam. In fact, it’s often jumped up pretty high onto Steam Charts’ Top 10 and disproven the theory that this was a flash-in-the-pan success. Lost Ark is here to stay, it looks like.

Lord of the Rings Online

There are many reasons to be optimistic about this long-running Middle-earth MMO. LOTRO is wrapping up the year with an impressive jump in playerbase counts and the well-received Before the Shadow mini-expansion. And it certainly didn’t hurt that Lord of the Rings was catapulted back into pop culture thanks to the new Amazon series.

Guild Wars 2

Start to finish, Guild Wars 2 rocked 2022. It came out of the gate this year strong with End of Dragons, the highly anticipated Cantha expansion. Since then, there’s been a noticeable uptick in conversation and player returns to the game, aided along by the Season One episodes being released. NCsoft reported consistently strong sales of Guild Wars 2, which should be encouraging news for future investment in the property.

Elder Scrolls Online

ZeniMax’s MMO isn’t in the top five of the crowd for taking risks so much as being a reliable, dependable product that churns out new content on schedule. While cracks are showing in recent years, Elder Scrolls Online is still a vibrant game coupled with a popular IP that isn’t in current direct competition with any new Elder Scrolls title.

Teeth. Not a lack of teeth.

World of Warcraft

It wasn’t the most amazing year for World of Warcraft, but I think there’s a case to be made that it was a remarkably solid year under trying circumstances. Wrath Classic gave the franchise a brief summer boost, while Dragonflight roared into town toward the close of the year (and gave the derided Shadowlands the boot). It’s also been encouraging to see Blizzard finally decouple itself from borrowed power with its expansion design.

Yet while the game still has life left in it, a dark cloud settled in with the news that a failed negotiation will most likely result in World of Warcraft closing up shop in China, which definitely isn’t going to help 2023’s numbers.

THIS IS THE MADDEST I HAVE EVER BEEN!

Neverwinter

Speaking of dependable powerhouses, Cryptic’s Neverwinter chugged through 2022 like a champ with several meaty modules, a collaboration with R.A. Salvatore, and plenty of events and promotions. With a multi-platform reach, recognizable Dungeons & Dragons IP, and a generally good reputation, there’s no reason to suspect that Neverwinter won’t be going for a long time to come.

RuneScape

If you like a studio that’s always communicating with and polling players about future development, then Jagex is going to be your jam. With two flavors of RuneScape to choose and a whole lot of players who look upon this franchise fondly, it’s a good ecosystem to plug into if you like skill training, old fashioned questing, and MMOs that will run on potatoes.

Black Desert

Will any MMO come along to take away the sandbox crown from Black Desert? It hasn’t happened yet, which is why Pearl Abyss’ MMO remains in many players’ top five lists. With gorgeous eye candy, a wide array of activities, and the general aura of success, it’s not a bad world to find yourself exploring.

DC Universe Online

It may not be everyone’s style of MMO, but DCUO certainly tops the superhero pile right now. This is thanks to a combination of factors: the popular DC branding, a lack of strong competition, regular updates, cross-platform play, and its continually strong revenue stream. There are some big things in the works for DCUO in 2023, so it might be worth a revisit.

Check out our previous years’ lists:

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten usually takes an MMO topic and divides it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. And per tradition, we’re cranking this column up to eleven with our annual special features in the End-of-Year Eleven!
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