This list is always fun to do. 2012 to me is not so much about individual games but a trend in games. It was the year of Kickstarter, but in more ways it was the year that fans and players told developers the games they wanted to see made and how they would make them. This trend has begun and I don’t think it is going away. More than ever we are seeing games made that we want and more independent MMOs coming to life. With that said, here are my games for 2012.
Guild Wars 2
By far the MMO that is defining the new era of games is Guild Wars 2. The first half of the year was a strong hype machine backed up by great gameplay in beta testing. The second half of the year had everyone playing Guild Wars 2. If people think the build up on this game was too much, it was not. We learned that back in March during our very first closed beta for press. It took players into new territory with an amazing PvP system and some great adventure lines, Guild Wars 2 has become a model for the decade's themepark MMOs. Let’s see what the team has in store for 2013.
The winner of our Game of the Year award! Pirate101 has shown the power of great MMO gameplay for the younger generation. There is something that KingsIsle does extremely well: make games that everyone can play. Wizard101 set the bar in terms of fun and Pirate101 follows suit. The game’s strategy is great for anyone looking for a thinking combat system. Connecting both games in the same universe worked very well for KingsIsle as well. Anything that gets kids and adults to play together is a home run in my book. Now, if only those guys would go back to their ShadowBane roots and give us a hardcore, sandbox MMO? Yes please!
Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Old Republic really was a lesson to the entire game industry. I logged in recently and started to get my Sith back on track. More than anything though, Star Wars was the game that launched in a subscription-free era and had to turn the corner fast into a whole new model. The game remains a solid and fun themepark experience. However, the real story begins now as they start to implement more free to play options. So far, many feel they have missed the mark. It seems like there will be some drastic changes to how the game will be played and more importantly funded. If Star Wars taught us anything, it was that the era of the big publishers thinking they know better than fans really has ended. Anyone interested in getting into the game industry should study the story behind this game... it really is a space opera all to itself.
Get in the game and fight! This is something that more MMOs could work on. Planetside 2 has brought back a game which many had fond memories of "back in the day." The game is great for many reasons, but one simple one that so many MMOs for get to do? Give players a battlefield, get them in the battle, give them a reason to fight, and let the fun begin. The fun part about this style of game play is that you level up without thinking about it. MMOs made leveling a job for many and that really has become an old way of thinking. Planetside 2 gets you into the battle before anything else. It may be considered a niche game by some, but SOE's latest showed me that you can build a fun sandbox for players to log into and battle it out quickly. Another lesson the MMO industry could learn from moving forward.
World of Tanks
Often considered a hybrid MMO, World of Tanks dominates the online war-gaming market. The real story here is that Wargaming.net has grown from a small game to a global monster. It became bigger in 2012 than any other game. Now with World of Warplanes coming in 2013, there is another huge battlefield to connect to. These games will link in a huge player base that are not just MMO players, but gamers from all corners. Combine that with a casual audience as well, because the game's so easy to pick up and play, and Wargaming will continue to grow. I think with Warships on the way, the company will become a staple of online war moving into the next decade. Hat’s off to a fantastic game, but also the amazing growth that the company has seen.