Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2018 awards continue today with our award for the MMO with the Best Business Model, which was awarded jointly to World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV last year. This relatively new award is intended to recognize a live MMORPG of any age that has demonstrated an exemplary business model specifically in 2018, regardless of its past performance. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for the Best MMO Business Model of 2018 is…
Guild Wars 2
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Pokemon Go. While Nintendo itself feels like it might be going over to the dark side, Pokemon Go’s raid tickets feel fair, and I’m saying this as someone who’s been a “raid a day” person and a “I raided once this week because I could do it while eating lunch” player. For those who don’t play, think of it like putting some cash in an old-fashioned arcade machine. You get 1-2 free plays per day, but can pay more if you want. There’s a good amount of variety now, so it’s not just about the “best” pokemon (which for several months now haven’t been anything better than what we had at the start of the year). Combined with the upcoming PvP leagues that actually allow for traditionally “bad” pokemon to shine while locking out the top-tier raid prize-pokemon, the system feels, well, rather balanced as of this writing. For runners-up? Probably Final Fantasy XIV or Elder Scrolls Online, as usual. As lockboxes become more and more of a thing, the raw sub with some addons these two provide still feels fair while the F2P world often still flirts with problematic loot boxes.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): This one seemed a hard one for the team to sort out this year. While I was tempted to go for an encore year for Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft for this award since generally I think sub models are better than F2P in 2018, in this case I don’t think either one delivered quite as much content for the money as they did in 2017. Guild Wars 2, however, delivered near-quarterly major content updates for no money whatsoever. It also managed to avoid a nasty lockbox scandal this year (it had one last year), plus it’s made consumer-friendly changes to some of the lockboxes I thought were pretty awful last year (for example, allowing some mounts from mount lockboxes to be purchased individually). As reluctant as I am to give ArenaNet a nod, especially after some of the awful monetization things its execs said in 2018, I think the game’s model itself as actually implemented deserves this award in 2018. If it eliminated lockboxes entirely, it would be at the tippy top every year, no contest, basically the way Guild Wars 1 once was. My runner-up would be Trove, but only if you’re a casual player. You can get staggeringly far on nothing invested in Trove, but there is a nasty paywall you’ll hit eventually if you’re a hardcore PvE person.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Guild Wars 2. There is a whole lot of MMO gaming one can get out of Guild Wars 2 without spending a penny. On top of that, the game’s expansions provide some pretty beefy slices of content for the asking price even at full cost, and the sales it has on those same expansions frequently make them the best deal in the MMORPG genre.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Personally, Bree has sold me on Trove. She argues that it’s kind of got a scummy and grifty model for people on the top end pushing PvE content, but considering this is a kid’s game and it would be so easy to grift the heck out of children, I see “grift the people who want to push the bleeding edge” as kind of a good thing in and of itself.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): While pay-to-win and other issues still plague it, I think that free-to-play consistently proves to be the deciding factor whether or not players are going to give a game a go. When you don’t have anything to lose by trying it, you’re more likely to try it.
Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Guild Wars 2. I’m not personally a big fan of GW2, but it’s hard to beat its buy-to-play, cosmetics-only cash shop model.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Even though it isn’t a MMO, I’d give this to Path of Exile. This game gets regular, chunky updates four times a year — and not a single one of them costs a thing to players! Neither does the game itself! All the funds come from cosmetic purchases in the store. And storage. Who doesn’t need to buy more storage? (Especially me!) It makes me want to spend because I don’t feel in the least bit compelled to in order to play. The same could be said for Warframe, but I gave it to POE because of the frequency of updates and new leagues. If I needed to go with a pure MMO for this, then I could get behind Guild Wars 2, which also has been plunking out new content without additional cost. However, I don’t like the “log in during a certain time” restriction. I don’t want to play because I have some missing holes in story parts when illness or life events prevented me from making that log in in time. Also, expansions cost a chunk and a half. So Path of Exile is better.
Our team gathers together over the course of a few days to discuss candidates and ideally 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.
Guild Wars 2 won our award for Best MMO Business Model of 2018. What’s your pick?
Poll options include all games nominated plus other games we thought had a chance!
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