MassivelyOP’s 2023 Awards: Best MMO Business Model


Welcome back to Massively Overpowered’s formal end-of-the-year awards!

Today’s award is for the Best MMO Business Model, which was awarded to Guild Wars 2 last year. The award is intended to recognize a live MMORPG of any age that has demonstrated an exemplary business model specifically in 2023, regardless of its past performance. 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 Best MMO Business Model of 2023 is…


​​Andrew Ross: FFXIV.

Andy McAdams: I think the free-to-try with optional sub is the best model – so ESO, LOTRO, DDO.

Brianna Royce: I think Guild Wars 2 still has the top-end model, but I also know I paid almost the same amount for SOTO as I did for EOD, when EOD was way better value for me. So I can go along with folks nomming FFXIV this year. I pay for two subs for other MMOs currently; obviously, I still believe subs are good.

Carlo Lacsina: Guild Wars 2. I’ve always been a fan of how Guild Wars 2 is monetized. You can buy gold with real coin, but that somehow didn’t break their economy. Also, there’s always a neat variety of stuff on sale. The only thing I wish they’d do is sell the outfits in pieces rather than just a whole complete set. There are times where I just want one part of the outfit, but not the rest.

Chris Neal: FFXIV, Guild Wars 2. This year was arguably a small one comparatively speaking for Final Fantasy XIV, but even without a major expansion, it still continues to prove that it’s worth the subscription time. And even if it does also have a cash shop, it also sells wholly ignorable things on it that doesn’t spoil the fun. Some things are more easily ignored than others, though.

Colin Henry: I am against giving it to Guild Wars 2 in the year when ArenaNet decided to change its business model to charge almost the same for half as much content, but I can’t deny it’s still a good value even still.

Eliot Lefebvre: Final Fantasy XIV. I am a simple person. I like paying a subscription and getting a game with tons of content and cosmetic options every month. Final Fantasy XIV delivers that and continues to do so. It’s my vote every year, it works for me, if you don’t like subscriptions it’s going to bother you, we’re done here.

Justin Olivetti: What immediately comes to my mind is Guild Wars 2. This isn’t a game that yanks players around with a lot of hinky stuff. Pay your money, get the game for good, and enjoy it. I really like the gem market and how you can fund cash shop purchases that way, too.

Tyler Edwards: New World, Elder Scrolls Online. Having played more of GW2 this year, I don’t think its business model quite deserves top honours (over-priced cosmetics, too many lockboxes, and transmutation charges are too hard to get for free as a very casual player), though it is still better than most.

Final Fantasy XIV took our award for Best MMO Business Model. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What MMO featured the best business model in 2023?

  • Final Fantasy XIV (24%, 152 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (28%, 176 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (8%, 49 Votes)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (6%, 37 Votes)
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (1%, 7 Votes)
  • New World (5%, 33 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft (5%, 29 Votes)
  • Black Desert (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Lost Ark (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Albion Online (1%, 5 Votes)
  • EVE Online (1%, 6 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (3%, 20 Votes)
  • RuneScape (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 5 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2 (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Embers Adrift (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Palia (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Wayfinder (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Trove (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Anything free-to-play (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Anything crowdfunded (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Anything with a sub (4%, 26 Votes)
  • Anything buy-to-play (4%, 23 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (2%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 511

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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 commentary from writers so that you can see our thought process. 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. Reader poll options include all MMOs nominated plus a few others we thought should be included.
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