This in mind, we compiled a short list of what made the biggest impact on us, pertaining to MMOs. Although there were plenty of other exciting demos, booths and panels, we're keeping these awards strictly to MMO-related topics. Follow along after the jump for our complete list.
Shiniest New MMO
It's no secret that we were blown away by this game, but it certainly deserves a win in this category. Not to overlook the genuinely fun combat mechanics, but this really is a gorgeous game. The artists at Bluehole and En Masse have done a wonderful job and we look forward to its release early next year.
The Secret World
Presented by Ragnar Tornquist, this invite-only demo was fairly simple in execution, but had some wonderful videos of cinematics and in-game footage to admire. Unfortunately, not much can be said about what was seen at this presentation yet, but check back with us on March 23rd, when the embargo lifts.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Granted there were less than a half-dozen games offering a hands-on, but SWTOR was by far the best. You can read the full hands-on impressions for more details on how it went, but the overall experience only made us wanting more. Even now!
While most other booths had demo stations or chairs to sit and talk to the devs, Vivox had their own streaming internet show live at the booth! Gary Gannon's Gamerbreakr set took up a good chunk of the precious booth space, but Vivox was still able to fit in some demo stations with Global Agenda and other Vivox-enhanced games on display. AND the booth had Marty Sharma. I mean, what else could you ever need?
Biggest Surprise Hit
Vindictus is a clear example of how the free-to-play genre doesn't have to stick with kids graphics, poor quality, and predictable gameplay. Here's a game that's not only pushing the boundaries of free-to-play, but also pushing the boundaries of how we play MMOs, thanks to an emphasis on physics-based destruction and action-based combat.
The Future of MMO Monetization: How Turbine Supercharged DDO by Adopting a Hybrid Business Model
All week, whenever the topic of free-to-play or item shops came up, the words "Turbine" or "DDO" were not far behind. The way Turbine completely revolutionized the F2P market with a hybrid model is now the stuff of legends. In this panel, DDO's Fernando Paiz talked about the interesting fact that a F2P model actually increased their number of subscriptions, and how other companies can learn from that. Fernando is a wonderful speaker and this panel may have been one of the most important at GDC for more than just MMOs and F2P games.
MMO of the Show
Yes, I realize that there were some pretty amazing games being shown at this year's GDC, but TERA stuck out as the one to really wow the Massively team the most. Was it mostly because we weren't expecting it, or just because it's that good? Either way, you can bet we'll be keeping our eyes on this one.