Every year, one game stands out among the rest, and while it would be easy to crown a winner based on subscriber numbers alone, we all know that a high subscriber count does not necessarily the best game make.
So instead, we decided to open the category up and instead look at multiple factors: design quality, fun, popularity, continued progress and more.
One game, however, stood out among the rest as the 2009 Game of the Year. The nominees were:
The Winner: EVE Online
Coming up with a Game of the Year winner this time around was a difficult task. In the end, it came down to factors like: game growth, originality, overall contributions to the industry, fun factor, population and technological advancement and more. After much deliberation, the editorial staff at MMORPG.com has decided to hand this honor to veteran Sci-Fi MMORPG, EVE Online.
While some may question giving the GotY award to a game that originally launched in 2003, 2009 was actually a banner year for not just the game, which saw significant changes and growth through two major expansions, Apocrypha in March and Dominion in December. These two expansions significantly changed the face of the game, bringing it more in line with what players expect from a modern MMO. Between the two, the game added: Wormholes, ship customization (tier 3), Epic Mission arcs, a new New Player experience, social networking, planetary upgrades, changes to the game's sovereignty systems and more.
2009 was also a year of rebirth for CCP's first MMO, seeing a partnership with publisher Atari for a re-release of the game in boxes on store shelves (it had previously been available only through download), which has led the game to not only reach new heights in terms of subscriber numbers (currently over 300,000 active subscribers), but in terms of peak concurrent user records broken as more and more players crowd onto the game's single server.
When you add all of this to the fact that CCP also announced plans to expand EVE Online's virtual universe beyond EVE and the PC in the form of MMO console shooter DUST 514, it isn't difficult to see how EVE Online stood above the crowd as our Game of the Year.
Runner Up: World of Warcraft
It just wouldn't be a year in the MMO industry if you didn't at least have to consider Blizzard's World of Warcraft in the Game of the Year category. After all, it is still the industry leader when it comes to subscriptions. Still, as we've said numerous times, subscriptions aren't everything. With that in mind, there were a few reasons that WoW ranked as our number two MMO for 2009 including but not limited to numerous patches to Wrath of the Lich King, good lead up into next year's Cataclysm and what many WoW players describe as a revolutionary new Dungeon Finder system.