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MMORPG.com Players' Choice Awards 2023 Winners

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
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2023 has been a weird year. We've seen multiple MMORPG expansions come down to us, despite not really having one from one of the major hitters in the genre, while we've also seen excellent games release across the industry as a whole. It was a banner year especially for RPGs, with games like Final Fantasy XVI, Sea of Stars and, of course, Baldur's Gate 3 launching to much critical acclaim.

On the MMO front, we saw expansions from MMOs such as New WorldBlack Desert Online, and even EVE Online - who closed out 2023 strong by launching two expansions this year. We also saw new entries in the Cozy game genre vying for top billing with titan Animal Crossing: New Horizons. As we reflect on 2023, it was a good year for games, but we'd be remiss if we didn't also acknowledge it's been a bad year for those who make them.

Layoffs have occurred with alarming frequency across the industry, with estimates putting the number of developers laid off in 2023 over 7000 and climbing as we head towards the new year. It can't be separated that while we celebrate our favorite games that kept us going in 2023, the people who made them are facing more uncertainty than ever in the meat grinder that is the games industry.

The winners presented here were chosen by over 1500 reader votes cast over the last two weeks. Staff award winners will be announced next week, but arguably the Players' Choice awards are more important as it's one thing to win critical acclaim, another entirely to be recognized by the very people these games are made for. Let's dive in, shall we?

Best Battle Royale of 2023 - Players' Choice: Call of Duty Warzone

Runner-up: Fortnite

Best Battle Royale Players' Choice Award 2023

Despite concerns over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's campaign length, the multiplayer scene still drives the franchise forward. Warzone's Season 1 brought its new Urziksan map to the fray, giving players a new battleground to learn and thrive within, complete with a driveable train. It definitely sets Warzone up for a great 2024.

Best Persistent Online Game of 2023 - Players' Choice: Genshin Impact

Runners-up: GTA Online, Warframe

Best Persistent Online Game 2023 Players' Choice Genshin Impact

This is a category that is always a bit hard to pin down since pretty much any live service game can fit in here. Genshin Impact, though, has certainly made an impact since it was released a few years ago. HoYoverse has not slowed down either, releasing multiple major updates, characters, and more throughout 2023. The PC, Mobile, and PlayStation multiplayer RPG is definitely a fan favorite, even as other contenders move into the space. It'll be interesting to see if Genshin can continue its incredible popularity as it continues to age, but right now it shows no signs of stopping.

Best Indie MMO of 2023 - Players' Choice: Albion Online

Runners-up: Embers Adrift, Zenith: The Last City

Best Indie MMO Players' Choice Albion Online

Oh, Albion OnlineThis sandbox MMO made by, fittingly, Sandbox Interactive has had a good 2023, especially thanks to its Wild Blood update this Fall. The MMO, which is available on PC, Mac, and Mobile devices, makes it clear that you don't need to be a Blizzard, Electronic Arts, or even CCP Games to make an incredible MMO - and then maintain that momentum throughout its life. While the team is shaking up how it updates Albion Online in 2024 - with its first major update, Crystal Raiders, announced for January - the indie MMO's future looks bright, especially for those players who love to take part in its massive guild wars.

Best Cozy Game of 2023 - Players' Choice: Stardew Valley

Runners-up: PaliaAnimal Crossing: New Horizons

Best Cozy Game 2023 Players' Choice - Stardew Valley

One of our new categories this year, the Cozy Game, Life Sim, Farming Sim - whatever you call it - has gathered steam since the popularity of this year's winner, Stardew Valley, reminded everyone that these games can be fun.

Stardew Valley continues to exemplify why this category of games can be so alluring. While some might scoff at digital farming, that's only one aspect of a game world created to tell compelling human stories, build your own legacy, and do a bit of roleplaying with the valley's endearing villagers. Also, the multiplayer is great if you've got some friends to join up with. While Stardew Valley wasn't released this year, developer ConcernedApe is still bringing new content to the cozy game years after its release. It'll be interesting to continue to see how this genre evolves over time as more and more games with the "cozy" moniker start to release.

Most Anticipated - Players' Choice: Riot's League of Legends MMO

Runners-up: Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, Ashes of Creation

Players' Choice Most Anticipated MMO Riot's League of Legends MMO

In a repeat win from last year, Riot's Runeterra/League of Legends-fueled MMO takes the Players' Choice Award for Most Anticipated MMO. Despite having a year where we saw its executive producer leave the company, start his own studio and announce his own MMO, Riot's upcoming massively multiplayer game is still garnering excitement.

We don't really know much about this game other than it's in development and will take place in the League universe. Riot doesn't do anything halfway, either, so it'll be interesting to see how the Valorant-developer brings its trademark polish and quality to the MMO scene. Hopefully we'll learn even more in 2024.

Most Improved - Players' Choice: New World

Runners-up: Albion Online, Warframe

New World Most Improved MMO PLayers' Choice 2023

New World has had a year in 2023. Its expansion, Rise of the Angry Earth, brought a revamped zone, new story content, the excellent Flail and Shield weapon skill line, and more to the world of Aeternum, while the efforts the Amazon Games Studios team has done to streamline and make the MMO better over the years finally bore fruit. 

Right now, New World has never played better, with its revamped questing structure, its seasonal content schedule, and the inclusion (finally!) of mounts to get around the Eternal Isle. If you've been looking for a good time to jump into the MMO, now is the time.

Best Mobile MMO - Players' Choice: Black Desert Mobile

Runner-up: Genshin Impact

Best Mobile MMO Players' Choice Black Desert Mobile

In another repeat win from 2022, with a staggering 78% of the reader's vote, Black Desert Mobile takes the Best Mobile MMO spot in our Players' Choice Awards. The MMO is celebrating its 4th anniversary this year, and BDM saw the Land of the Morning Light expansion drop on mobile, as well as the Awakening classes for its Woosa and Maegu twin classes. It also saw its Everfrost region and Guardian class drop this year, while the Hashashin made an appearance for Mobile players. 2023 was great, but it'll be interesting to see how 2024 pans out for Black Desert Mobile.

Biggest Disappointment of 2023 - Players' Choice: The State of Crowdfunded MMOs

Runner-up: Pantheon's 247 Spin-off mode, Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Launch state of ARK: Survival Ascended

Biggest Disappointment Players' Choice

Another year has gone by and many of the crowdfunded MMOs that dominated the 2010s are now where closer to being launched it feels than they were a year ago. Games like Camelot UnchainedAshes of Creation, and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen are all still in development, despite having raised funds for years at this point, whether in the initial Kickstarter pledges or through investors. Yet nothing compares to Star Citizen a game that seemingly prints its own money despite not feeling anywhere near close to its MMO launch (though Squadron 42 is at least "feature complete"). 

How much of this is development teams in over their head, or the fact that because of the way these are funded, we're seeing exactly how difficult and how long MMOs take to create? Not sure, but one thing is certain - not many of us have hope that this narrative will change when the 2024 Awards Season comes around.

Best ARPG of 2023 - Players' Choice: Diablo IV

Runner-up: Path of Exile

Best ARPG of 2023 PLayers' Choice - Diablo IV

Diablo IV is a great game, despite its issues since it launched. The gameplay loop is satisfying, with gory and bloody animation work that befitting Sanctuary's dark, dour backdrop. It's struggled for sure to gain its footing since launch, but it's endured throughout the year, announcing its first expansion on the horizon for 2024

Its latest update, the Abbatoir of Zir, recently brought a bloody new challenge to Sanctuary, while the world is getting into the holiday spirit with its first-ever winter event, the Midwinter Blight. Six months in, and Diablo IV seems to be trucking along just fine. Here's to 2024!

Best Survival MMO of 2023 - Players' Choice: Valheim

Runner-up: V Rising

Best Survival MMO Players' Choice Valheim

What can you say that hasn't already been said about Valheim, the repeat winner of our Best Survival MMO category in the Players' Choice Awards? It's accessible, yet with a tons of depth, while the survival MMO brings satisfying building and crafting mechanics to a genre where the grind and convolution can often get the better of it. Valheim is a cozy survival MMO if you choose to play that way, though you can still strap on your favorite armor and weapon and go hunting in search of monsters to slay. It continues to impress a few years into its early access launch, and, personally, we can't wait to see what the eventual 1.0 update brings with it when it finally releases.

Best MMO Expansion of 2023 - Players' Choice: Black Desert: The Land Of The Morning Light

Runner-up: New World: Rise of the Angry Earth

Players' Choice Awards Best MMO Expansion 2023 Black Desert Land of the Morning Light

Black Desert: The Land of the Morning Light was a marked departure from the norm for Pearl Abyss, who took a massive chance on shaking up its normal formula in favor of a more narrative-focused expansion. Inspired by Joseon-era Korea that feels less like an expansion and more like a love letter to the country, bringing themes, myths, and legends out of the heart of Pearl Abyss' homeland and into the mainstream, Land of the Morning Light brought a beautiful new region, interesting boss fights, and new stories that clearly resonated with its fans. In addition to the risk the team took bringing Korean Folklore to life on a stage that might not have been ready for it, the new region doesn't include any of BDO's iconic monster zones, instead focusing on the story and then the climactic boss battles at the end of each quest chain.

Since launching first on PC, the expansion has made its way to the console versions of Black Desert and eventually, its Mobile version, completing the MMO trinity. Black Desert has a great year, and The Land of the Morning Light is a large part of why.

Best RPG of 2023 - Players' Choice: Baldur's Gate 3

Runner-up: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Final Fantasy XVI

Best RPG of 2023 - Players' Choice Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3, which won with over 50% of the vote, is at the top of many Game of the Year lists across the industry, winning the award during the 2023 The Game Awards last week, while also taking home the prize during the Golden Joysticks last month. It's not easy to supplant the likes of Zelda or Final Fantasy in the hearts and minds of many, especially when those two put out incredible games in their own right.

But while those games are incredible, Baldur's Gate 3 is foundational. It's generational. It's the type of RPG that makes us stand up and take notice of the incredible talents over at Larian Studios, something we were already doing with the release of Divinity: Original Sin 2, but now even moreso. This is the type of RPG that will influence how RPGs are thought of and built over the next generation of game development. Its depth of gameplay, its incredible player freedom to literally do whatever they want and BG3 can handle it, and its beautifully written and told human stories will be talked about for years to come. It's a much deserved win for a studio that for many has become the studio for RPGs in the modern era. 

Move over, BioWare - Larian is cooking.

Best MMORPG of 2023 - Players' Choice: Black Desert Online

Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, New World

Best MMORPG of 2023 - Players' Choice Black Desert Online

Black Desert fans had plenty to celebrate this year, and the sheer volume of updates, improvements, releases and more that Pearl Abyss has pumped out is incredible. Its Twin classes of the Woosa and Maegu have brought new ways to play Black Desert since the beginning of the year, while its tentpole expansion, The Land of the Morning Light brought new life, a beautiful new region, and incredible stories to the Black Desert universe. 

Pearl Abyss didn't slow down from their either, bringing the expansion to its console and mobile versions before the year was out, improving the experience based on player feedback, hosted player events at PAX West, in New York, and during TwitchCon, and even brought a Mythical Doom Horse to the party for good measure. New high-level region Ulukita was release just a few months after the expansion, and the team introduced endless season servers based on player wishes. It's been a banner year for the MMORPG, and if the pace of updates this year is any indication, the team won't be slowing down in 2024.

Congratulations to all the Players' Choice Awards 2023 Winners!


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore