The Game Of The Year Awards 2017 Edition

Welcome to the Game of the Year Awards 2017 Edition. This year, we have introduced some new categories and trimmed old ones. We have also continued our Golden Coffee Cup trophy logo. Why not a chalice, you ask? Because chalices are overrated and coffee cups are more practical.

Without further ado, I give you our games of the year.

Game of the Year - Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds left Early Access on December 20, just in time to top our list. PUBG quickly became the top game on Steam, surpassing Valve's stalwarts Counter Strike Global Offensive and Dota 2. It inspired dozens of clones, many of which we will be seeing throughout 2018. But beyond its industry impact and popularity, PUBG earned the Game of the Year nod because it captured a fundamental aspect of MMO gaming that many developers have forgotten. Many observers are at first confused by the appeal of PUBG. Often all players do is run around for up to half an hour at a time. A walking simulator is how we've heard it described. That same description was of course used by outsiders to describe most early MMORPGs. The wonder of PUBG is not in its scripted content, its story, or its characters. In fact, it has none of those. PUBG is entirely driven by player interaction within an unconstrained board. No two matches alike, and there's no right way to play it. PUBG is a social experience with just enough gameplay elements to bring us together. As a lifelong MMORPG gamer, that's really what I've been looking for all these years.

MMORPG of the Year - Mu Legend

Sometimes just making it out the gate is good enough. 2017 was a good year for many existing games, but we saw very few new releases in the MMORPG genre. Webzen's Mu Legend offers traditional isometric MMORPG gameplay but is far more approachable than the original Mu Online which was released way back in 2003. With the global service up and running as of November 2017, Mu Legend will likely enjoy a long shelf life and find an audience that spans most of the globe, just like its predecessor. A potential contender to Mu Legend was the Chinese developed Revelation Online. It was our most anticipated MMORPG of 2016, but despite a strong start it quickly fell off of our radar.

Best Expansion - Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood

2017 may not have been the best year for new MMORPGs, but it did see more than its fair share of impressive expansions for existing games. In fact, this was the most difficulty category for us to narrow down. Plains of Eidolon for Warframe and The Fall of Oriath for Path of Exile took both free to play games to new heights, both in terms of content & playerbases. Guild Wars 2 saw a major addition in Path of Fire which breathed new life into game. Not an easy choice, but ultimately it was Stormblood for FF14 that won the day. Not only did the expansion add the usual cocktail of a new job, higher level cap, and so on but it marked the end of Playstation 3 support. That may seem unrelated, but it is significant. Without the need to support a legacy platform, the developers are free to vastly improve the game's visuals and bolster the sorts of gameplay mechanics that the engine is capable of. Stormblood has streamlined the experience of newcomers and existing players alike. With the addition of a level boost potion, new players can catch up immediately. Vast changes to cross-class skills have streamlined the endgame experience. Square Enix's efforts have paid off, FF14 enjoys more active subscribers now than ever before.

Most Anticipated - World of Warcraft Classic

Earlier this year we joked that the launch of a classic World of Warcraft private server would be the biggest MMORPG launch of the year. We may have been right, if only a year early. With the reveal of an official World of Warcraft Classic server at Blizzcon, we may all be spending the next year partying like its 2004. There's a lot of guess work involved with this category. Many titles don't have firm release days, but there were at least two certain contenders: Ascent: Infinite Realm (A:IR) and Bless. Both are Unreal 3 powered Korean MMORPGs, and may end up going up against Blizzard's juggernaut.

Card Game of the Year - Gwent

There were a number of card games that released this year, but none quite stood out the way Gwent did. Originally a mini-game in The Witcher 3, GWENT managed to enter the highly competitive card game scene with a totally fresh take on the genre. With no health totals, minions, or mana Gwent is a short battle of wits and resource management. Players take turns playing cards with varying point values. The goal is end each round with a higher point total than your opponent. Simple to learn yet difficult to master, Gwent is a refreshing entry in a genre that usually attracts copycats.

Most Innovative - Master x Master

Innovation in the gaming industry is a high risk activity, as this year's winner shows. NCSoft's MxM combined elements from the MOBA, TAB (team arena brawler), and RPG genres. Players could swap between two characters during matches using a tag team features found in several fighting games. Unfortunately, the game didn't last long. NCSoft decided to end service, with a shut down date set for January 31, 2018. There are many factors that contributed to the game's failure, but one is undoubtedly the lack of memorable characters. Unlike Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm, MxM's roster just didn't have the same cache. Ultimately, MxM was a jack of all trades, master of none and the market just didn't favor such a game in 2017.

Best Clone - Fortnite

Sometimes spending years wandering in the desert can prove to be a wise decision. Fortnite was first revealed way back in 2011 and languished in alpha testing for over 5 years. But Fortnite wasn't vaporware -- it was just biding its time, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. After seeing the success of PUBG, Epic Games surprised the world when it added a Battle Royale mode to their zombie survival title seemingly overnight. Considering PUBG was built on Epic's own Unreal Engine, the sheer shamelessness on the part of the developers here is awe inspiring. Perhaps the good folks at Epic Games learned a thing or two from their 40% minority owner, Tencent.

Most Disappointing - LawBreakers

When we heard Cliff Bleszinski (of Unreal Tournament fame) was working with Nexon on a new free to play shooter, we admit we were excited. We grew up playing Unreal Tournament and it has been a long time since anyone made a modern shooter with the fast paced gameplay that was so popular in the Unreal/Quake era. Sadly, things went off the rails very quickly. First, Boss Key Productions decided to ditch the F2P model and instead charge $30 for the game. Second, the enormous level of success Overwatch enjoyed sucked much of the air out of the hero shooter sub-genre. While the two games are certainly not identical, they clearly ended up competing for the same group of gamers. Despite a decent quantity of charters, maps, and game modes LawBreakers just lacked the style that Overwatch offered in spades.

Mobile Game of the Year - Arena of Valor

Mobile gaming is still relatively new. Its been less than a decade since the launch of the Apple App Store (July 2008), and even then most games until recent years were hardly more than arcade style mini-games and pay to win browser strategy games. It was during this era that many gamers formed poor opinions of the platform. By 2016 things had clearly improved. Clash Royale, while still pay to win, at least offered a compelling real-time gaming experience. This year mobile has made even greater strides with Tencent's Arena of Valor. A mobile moba that captures the essence of a 5v5 League of Legends match distilled to a 10-20 minute session. While players must still unlock heroes and runes, Arena of Valor clearly rewards skill. It has rocketed to over 100 million daily active users in China, and is fast becoming one of the top eSports worldwide. Lets see if any mobile developers can top that in 2018!

Let us know your games of the year in the comments!

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.