Welcome back to Massively Overpowered’s formal end-of-the-year awards!
Today’s award is for the MMO Studio of the Year, which was awarded to Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet last year. We asked our writers to consider all MMO studios as well as other online games studios we cover 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 2022 is…
Andrew Ross: Northern Forge. I’m nominating Orna’s Northern Forge for one major reason: It’s the only MMOARG company this year to make some big changes that don’t endanger its players in meatspace and listen to its playerbase. Orna itself is best as a grinder that can facilitate meeting friends in meatspace, and combined with simple (though slowly improving) art, won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That being said, the new Mnemonics (which are like using clues to triangulate a spot) added a new dimension for people able to do them without being required like another company’s tasks. The new tutorial has made the game feel more modern, and the new Summoner Class (in a free update) was quite a surprise. The studio has been open, transparent, fair about monetization, incorporate community ideas (even art!)… it’s what we’d want from bigger companies.
Andy McAdams: ArenaNet.
Brianna Royce: ArenaNet. In a way, I don’t love giving best studio to the same company twice in a row, but in this specific case, I think ArenaNet really deserves it. As we noted last year, the company was actually getting negative awards for years until 2021, when it turned around its communication and actually started delivering what players wanted. 2022 has taken that pattern and cemented it as pathway, not just with End of Dragons but with continuing communication, balancing, revamps of old content, and of course, a roadmap into the future that includes more expansions. The current studio is exactly what I want to see out of an MMO team, and I’m so grateful it became a company I feel good about nominating again after several bleak years.
Carlo Lacsina: ArenaNet.
Chris Neal: SiegeCamp, ArenaNet. This studio just doesn’t seem to miss that often, or if they do miss they try to correct. Also, as near as we’re all being led to know, they treat their people right. On top of that, they release awesome content. Easy win, if you ask me.
Colin Henry: ArenaNet. Guild Wars 2 has had a really strong year, with the launch of End of Dragons. I also appreciate that ArenaNet finally bit the bullet and took that opportunity to put most of Living World Season 1 into a format that modern players can play. Predictably, it hasn’t been the most popular choice because, let’s face it, S1 was far from the best content ANet ever produced, but it was absolutely necessary to bring new players up to speed. That’s great, but that alone wouldn’t get it my vote. The biggest reason I voted for ANet is the increased transparency it’s had in the area of combat balance. This summer, ANet put out, quite frankly, a bad balance patch. Most companies would have just moved on and pretend it was fine, but ArenaNet’s combat team came out and owned it and promised to do better in the future. They published a lengthy balance manifesto, and subsequent patches have gone a long way in addressing player feedback in the area of balance. It has been great to see Cal Cohen on streams going into great detail about what’s coming and why. Keep up the good work, ArenaNet!
Eliot Lefebvre: I actually held off on my nominations this year for this particular category, waiting to be persuaded. I’m not really convinced of ArenaNet, but this isn’t like when people kept voting for then-SOE and I was standing in the corner wondering when exactly people were convinced that studio wasn’t garbage; ArenaNet is a good enough studio, definitely. I’m also still pleased by Square-Enix Creative Business Unit III handling the company’s live MMOs, although it’s also clear that the rest of Square-Enix is in a weird place (witness Matsuda’s ghoulish crypto letter from the start of the year). No one really particularly impressed me, and thus I’d be mostly voting for the studio I personally liked more, so I didn’t have strong opinions.
Justin Olivetti: Standing Stone Games. I’m going to give my nod to SSG for doing so much better on communication, hiring back Orion, giving out even more free quest content, and pushing out some major releases for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online in 2023. This small team does so much and should be recognized for it.
MJ Guthrie: For me, it is a tie between Artix Entertainment and ArenaNet. Hey, the As win! Artix Entertainment continues to regularly add content at a cadence no one else can match, and this year has been adding in content that revisits areas of nostalgia for players as well as unique areas for different kinds of gameplay and stories. There’s the Moistverse built around MoistCr1TiKaL/penguinz0 (a popular Youtuber/Streamer), and the queen of all additions, Elvira the Mistress of the Dark, who hosted the 20th Cursed Anniversary of Doom (which includes a variety of mini stories, including retro 2-D and new music from multiple artists). ArenaNet not only brought out a successful expansion but brought back original content that players (like me) had never experienced. And it was for free! (The classic content, not the expansion.) Letting folks relive that original storyline even though the world has moved on is a huge plus to me.
Tyler Edwards: ArenaNet.
ArenaNet took our award for MMO Studio of the Year. What’s your pick?
Reader poll: What was the best MMO studio of 2022?
- ArenaNet (37%, 261 Votes)
- Standing Stone Games (11%, 77 Votes)
- SiegeCamp (1%, 6 Votes)
- Northern Forge (0%, 2 Votes)
- Artix Entertainment (1%, 10 Votes)
- ZeniMax (5%, 36 Votes)
- Amazon (3%, 22 Votes)
- Square-Enix (19%, 134 Votes)
- Blizzard (7%, 51 Votes)
- Kakao (0%, 0 Votes)
- Cryptic/Gearbox (1%, 8 Votes)
- Daybreak (2%, 13 Votes)
- Pearl Abyss (1%, 8 Votes)
- CCP Games (1%, 9 Votes)
- BioWare (0%, 2 Votes)
- Gamigo (0%, 1 Votes)
- Visionary Realms (1%, 6 Votes)
- Jagex (2%, 14 Votes)
- Intrepid (0%, 3 Votes)
- Grinding Gear (0%, 3 Votes)
- City State Games (0%, 2 Votes)
- Frontier (0%, 2 Votes)
- Sega (0%, 3 Votes)
- Cloud Imperium (1%, 6 Votes)
- Digital Extremes (1%, 7 Votes)
- Nexon (0%, 0 Votes)
- Wargaming (0%, 2 Votes)
- Funcom (1%, 4 Votes)
- Gameforge (0%, 1 Votes)
- Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 635