It’s been a full year since the disastrous 2009 Flushie Awards, what with the dolphin casualties and the gratuitous references to Weebles and a drunken appearance by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. That is behind us now. That is the past. This… this is the FUTURE! Of yesterday!
For the duration of this week, I’ll be presenting the (now) annual Flushies, a salute to the best, worst and weirdest of MMOs this year.
2010’s been an odd duck of a year, to tell the truth. On one hand, it’s not been that great of a year for MMOs at all — very few high-profile games even launched, many of those did middling-to-tanking, and it seems that most of the major news ended up being about disasters in the industry.
Yet there’s been a lot of good this year as well, even so. With the free-to-play market growing, several MMOs gained even larger audiences. Genre conventions were challenged and challenged again, both by MMO studios themselves during the creation of future titles and by smaller projects like Minecraft that showed just how much players are itching to express themselves creatively in a multiplayer space.
It’s also helped to know that 2011 is when the next big wave of games are coming, which meant that this year was spent anticipating and building up to the future. Depending how you see your glass, it could be half-empty with unfulfilled promises or half-full with soon-to-be-realized potential.
Anyway, enough jibber-jabber — it’s time to hand out these honortastic awards in the typical Bio Break style. Which means fire, and lots of it.
Winner: Star Trek Online
As has been noted in many places less hygienically scrubbed than here, there’s a real temptation to simply say “Nobody” when this topic comes up and part as friends. But that’s not us, and we’re not going to shy away from a challenge. The topic calls for a winner, and a winner it shall have.
So why Star Trek Online? I’ll admit, even if it was the only MMO that launched this year, it would still struggle to win this category. It was rushed to launch (a charming Cryptic motif), it lacked a lot of essential content (end game, crafting), it was embroiled in controversy almost constantly for the first half year, and it didn’t exactly overwhelm anyone with rumored subscription numbers (around 100K, or so the story goes).
Yet, STO endured, and under the new management of Dan Stahl, actually started to live up to its namesake. Diplomacy missions were added, crafting enhanced, the Klingon side fleshed out, special episodes created and so on. The space combat got a lot of kudos from even passers-by, although the ground combat left a lot to be desired.
So while I’ve tried almost every new MMO this year (save Mortal Online and a couple smaller titles), STO has a true element of fun and addictiveness that has helped it to overcome Cryptic’s many attempts to hobble it. Like it or not, I’m throwing it the New MMO of the Year award, and I will sleep well at night.
- Vindictus — While its true status as an MMO is debated and its Asian MMO tropes apparent, Vindictus got a lot of praise for its rapid combat and ease of entry.
- Global Agenda — Another dark horse candidate, GA tried to close the gap between FPS and MMO with mixed success, although it’s gained quite a few faithful followers. Bonus points for killing the subscription and switching to the Guild Wars pricing model.