Winner: Guild Wars 2 “Manifesto”
Bold. Audacious. Inspiring. These were just a few of the words that popped into mind when ArenaNet began its Guild Wars 2 marketing blitz with a powerful “Manifesto” trailer that came out swinging. After a series of strong statements — “Cause and effect, a single decision made by a player cascades out in a chain of events” — the devs shut up and let the game’s visuals and concept art speak for itself. It’s one of those videos that made our little neck hairs stand up and an involuntary “heck yesss!” escape our lips.
- Global Agenda: Tired of Elves
- Rift: Beta trailer
- Star Wars The Old Republic: Hope
Winner: Final Fantasy XIV
Gah! I feel so torn on this — partially because APB deserves it just as much, and because piling more onto FF14 feels like you’re picking on the weakest kid in the class. But that’s how the cookie crumbles — no other MMO this year was as highly anticipated and failed as horribly as Final Fantasy XIV. From out-of-touch developers refusing to listen to testers to a cryptically bizarre subscription model to terrible reviews to the sacking of a good chunk of the dev team, watching the launch of this title became sheer rubbernecking after a while. I know that some folks love this game and appreciate it for what it is — and good for them — but it’s not a good sign when the company is still not charging a monthly subscription for a AAA title out of fear of the playerbase fleeing entirely.
- APB: Winner of the shortest-lived MMO award. By all reports, it wasn’t that great of a game, although it had a good character builder and some folks loved the concept of it. But Realtime Worlds quickly went under and dragged APB with it, so it doesn’t really matter how good the game was or wasn’t. The only positive news is that GamersFirst rescued it and will revive APB as a F2P title next year.
- Allods Online: Unlike the other two games, Allods is pretty solid and polished — it’s just that it had a lot of promise and excitement surrounding the launch, and then the company shot it in the foot with a horrid cash shop prices that seriously crippled players unwilling to pay. As a result, Allods went from golden boy to black sheep within a month.
Winner: Cryptic Studios
I’m not quite sure what went on in Cryptic’s Monday morning meetings, but it must’ve been massive bewilderment for the sheer vitriol that players kept throwing their way. It was as if Cryptic didn’t quite understand just how much it was constantly putting its foot in its mouth with terrible customer service decisions, such as trying to charge players for additional content that should’ve been in their games in the first place, electing a small group of players to sit on a council and receive special attention over everyone else, or any one of the other 50 gaffes the studio made this year.
- Dungeons and Dragons Online: Turbine wasn’t exempt from a few wince-inducing decisions this year, from DDO’s ill-conceived offer wall to a glitch in a festival that caused the company to ban many players for “exploits” (and then tried to hush it up instead of dealing with it straight-on).
To be honest, I wasn’t in a lot of betas this year, but of those I checked out, Rift’s came across heads and shoulders more polished, more playable and more fun than any of the others. So much so that I don’t want to play it too much more and spoil the launch.