MassivelyOP’s 2023 Awards: MMORPG of the Year

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

Today’s award is for the MMORPG of the Year, which was awarded to Lost Ark last year. Longtime readers will recall that way back in 2014, our staff was so disillusioned with the new MMOs launching that we withheld this award and picked “nothing” as our winner. In subsequent years, we decided to open this award (and many of our others) up to all live MMOs, regardless of launch year, and that’s a tradition we’ve stuck to ever since, giving older MMOs a chance to compete with the new. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end – and congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners!

And the MassivelyOP staff pick for the Best MMORPG of 2023 is…

LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE

​​Andrew Ross: I want to say Orna, but it’s so off people’s radars I figure I won’t push it here

Andy McAdams: LOTRO, New World. It seems weird to give GOTY to an older game, but in the case of LOTRO – it’s aged like a fine wine. I picked up LOTRO for the very first time this year and had a blast. The game holds up really well, and they keep updating to keep it engaging with new stuff to do, and a legit pirate class! In a year when a lot of other studios really felt like they were phoning it in, LOTRO has really shined through adversity and is a great game.

Brianna Royce: LOTRO, New World. I know people are going to think this award was my doing because I play LOTRO, but nope. I figured it’d get Best Classic MMO as usual. But it was nominated for this a few times, which made me think about how it actually wasn’t a nutty idea in the context of the genre in 2023, and then during our team debates, the tide turned for it rather easily, and here we are. Justin is right that the game had an incredible year, with zone expansions, a new class, a new race, a huge new character customization system, and a housing expansion too. It isn’t just great for an old MMO; it’s great for an MMO, and it’s getting as much (and often more) content and love as the AAA games that usually inhabit the top tier of the genre. Some years a more niche title like this would be crowded out and not be acknowledged for its successes, but not this year. Congrats, SSG.

Carlo Lacsina: Guild Wars 2. I’m a simple guy. I’m not looking for a sweeping narrative that spans a decade. I just want a revanant carry a great sword and use legendary dragon stance. That’s all. I just want to be a daredevil and carry both a staff and a rifle. That’s all. My personal pic for Game of the year goes out to Guild Wars 2 because that dream was realized this year. Guild Wars 2 still has a long way to go in terms of figuring out its future plans, but right now, I’m happy with it.

Chris Neal: LOTRO. While I admit that I’m being swayed by people who know better than I do, I also trust the opinions of those people and have to give credit where credit is due: LOTRO has had an absolute banner year, has been well handled by SSG, and appears to continue to make forward strides. For a game of its age, that is meritorious in the supreme.

Colin Henry: LOTRO. I was reluctant to vote for The Lord of the Rings Online at first. It’s a game that I like and have been playing casually for many years, so it feels a bit like bias. But when I sat down and looked at everything it had done this year – a new race, a new housing area, a new class, and, of course, a well-received expansion – I became convinced that it really does deserve this. It certainly has its flaws, like the somewhat-improved-but-still-persistent lag problems, but for a game from 2007, this one is still doing remarkably well.

Eliot Lefebvre: Lord of the Rings Online. 2023 was really weird from an industry standpoint. A lot of games kind of kept doing their things without really standing out, and while I still have the games I love playing which do not included Lord of the Rings Online, none of them had a moment to stand up and say they deserved an award. They were just solid games that kept going, and an award deserves something more. LOTRO might have its issues and might be dated in various ways, but not only does it keep finding new ways to deliver on a richly textured Tolkien experience for fans, it also keeps putting out content, indulging promotions, and genuinely moving itself forward. It’s not the same game it was years ago, but it’s not unrecognizable either. We’ve honored it many years as a classic game, but it’s never really had a shot at the big prize… but this year? Yeah. It deserves it, and it doesn’t have one of the big five muscling in to take the prize. Good for you, Lord of the Rings Online. Well done.

Justin Olivetti: Lord of the Rings Online. Obvious personal bias aside, LOTRO was cranking it out all 2023 with four major releases (including an expansion), a new class, a new race, a new housing district, the optional difficulty settings, new systems, and more. Comms from SSG were much improved, and even the much-maligned performance started to get better thanks to work on the backend. It was a tremendous year to be a LOTRO fan indeed.

MJ Guthrie: LOTRO. I am totally applauding LOTRO! SSG really upped its game on releases this year, and these things made players happy. And I am one of those players — even if I don’t get as much time as I’d like to play. I am quite pleased with this year’s performance, and I am more excited to jump in and try out the new goodies when I have the chance.

Tyler Edwards: New World. It’s had a very solid year with some great new features, including mounts and transmog, and in general feels like it’s come into its own as a very solid MMORPG.

LOTRO took our award for MMORPG of the Year. What’s your pick?

Reader poll: What was the best MMORPG of 2023 aka our genre's GOTY?

  • Lord of the Rings Online (40%, 819 Votes)
  • New World (4%, 77 Votes)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (11%, 226 Votes)
  • World of Warcraft and WoW Classic (12%, 244 Votes)
  • Guild Wars 2 (10%, 205 Votes)
  • Elder Scrolls Online (5%, 101 Votes)
  • Black Desert (2%, 42 Votes)
  • Lost Ark (1%, 15 Votes)
  • Albion Online (1%, 11 Votes)
  • RuneScape and Old School RuneScape (3%, 55 Votes)
  • Wayfinder (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Palia (1%, 15 Votes)
  • EVE Online (2%, 34 Votes)
  • Star Trek Online (1%, 24 Votes)
  • SWTOR (2%, 35 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2 (0%, 2 Votes)
  • ArcheAge (0%, 3 Votes)
  • No Man's Sky (1%, 24 Votes)
  • Neverwinter (0%, 9 Votes)
  • Embers Adrift (1%, 12 Votes)
  • DC Universe Online (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Something else - tell us in the comments! (4%, 77 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,824

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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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