The Year of the MMO: 2012 Recap

Quite a year 2012 turned out to be. We played as martial pandas, revisited the Burning Hells, uncovered conspiracies and Secrets, began our Legacy and got up close and personal with an undead Elder Dragon.

Expansions, Updates

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Skepticism towards playable pandas quickly turned to delight when, after what seemed like an interminable wait (replete with rumors, teasers, spoilers and innumerable Kung Fu Panda comparisons) Mists of Pandaria was launched in October.

The pandaren were cool and laid back, but awesome at combat. Putting rumors of WoW’s demise to rest (at least for the moment), a surge of old and new gamers swelled subscription numbers back to the 10 million mark. Players got busy stocking up on WoW gold and exploring the new starting area and Pandaria’s seven zones.

The wondrous, dangerous JadeForestwas our introduction to the new continent and we set forth, happily bumbling about the exotic new world. We quickly learned the ropes as we took on the tons of new dailies, Pet Battles, Scenarios, raids, dungeons, player farms and more.

SWTOR: Free-to-Play Option

The unthinkable happened in November. After declaring that they would not, could not, and were not built to accommodate such an option, SWTOR went ahead and started offering a free-to-play option. We’ve mentioned previously that it’s been a crazy year for the beleaguered game, and the F2P move, while seen by some as a harbinger of the game’s imminent doom, seemed to actually stabilize the player base and strengthen the SWTOR credits-based economy. What the long-term effect of F2P will be remains to be seen, though.

New Games Launched

Diablo III

Launched May 15th, Diablo III sold 3.5 million copies within 24 hours of release, making it the fastest selling PC game in history. Players quickly took to the game, creating warriors from the five hero classes and using gear bought with Diablo 3 gold to blaze through the game’s 60 levels. Fans were disappointed by the lack of endgame content, but Blizzard Entertainment moved quickly to provide 100 additional Paragon levels and new features to keep players satisfied. Cut to the end of the year, and “Diablo 3” reigns as the fifth most-searched-for term on Google Zeitgeist’s year end list.

The Secret World

The underrated The Secret World was launched July 3rd. With a glut of conspiracy theories plus just about every conceivable mythological monster roaming the game world (a facsimile of today’s modern world, albeit with said creatures), not to mention witty dialogue and impressive storylines, TSW impressed critics and the brave few who dared take on the eerie, atmospheric game.

After personnel layoffs and management shakeups, things started looking up for the game, with game updates released in quick succession. TSW has recently made subscriptions optional, effectively reclassifying the game as “buy-to-play”.

Guild Wars 2

The August 28th release of GW2 was met with stellar, even worshipful reviews. By abolishing the MMO trinity of tank, healer, DPS, and by replacing staid quests with dynamic events, GW2 sought to redefine the conventions that prevailed over the genre. It was by-and-large a successful attempt, and GW2 ends the year on top of most critics’ lists as the best video game of the year.