@ceruleangrey: I've been extraordinarily impressed with Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XIV development team this year, since it's been putting out a semi-ludicrous amount of content on top of announcing an expansion. I was impressed enough to give the devs a wary pass on adding a cash shop to their subscription-based game; it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but I've wondered over the past year when they find the time to sleep, so I'll wait before judging the effect.
@nyphur: None. I'm the first to admit I'm a huge fanboy when it comes to EVE Online, but I've always been critical of CCP Games and it's been a bit of a mixed year for the studio. Putting DUST 514 on life support while it gets rebooted as a PC game hasn't gone down well with everyone, and the studio got a lot of flack for cancelling World of Darkness and the inevitable layoffs that followed. It's been a good year for EVE Online players, and the latest EVE trailer has helped get new players into the game, but it's still too early to tell if the company itself has turned things around.
@nbrianna/blog: City State Entertainment -- that's Mark Jacobs' outfit working on Camelot Unchained, for those who aren't following the indie scene. Jacobs and crew have been tireless about transparency and community outreach, which has both surprised and impressed me given my unflattering memories of Warhammer Online. Not a Camelot article goes by without a dev, usually Jacobs himself, answering our community's questions, and it's refreshing to see a small unit do what AAA games will not. All that said, I don't disagree with giving the award to SOE this year, for all the reasons my colleagues outline.
@Eliot_Lefebvre/blog: Square-Enix, specifically the division working on Final Fantasy XIV. The game has launched four huge patches this year with tons of content and new mechanics, the game's first expansion is clearly on-track for release next year, there's been plenty of player engagement, and while the game has hit a few potholes here and there, they've been minor. My frustrations have largely been assuaged over time. A year full of bad launches certainly helps paint the studio in a brighter light, too.
@jefreahard: None of them. I don't like how in-your-face monetization is making a mockery of immersion and virtual world mechanics, and every studio is guilty of it.
@Sypster/blog: SOE. Although it ended four of its games this year, SOE has been the industry leader in pushing out games and content. How many other studios have three MMOs currently in development, have its own fan convention, or have been releasing expansions for an MMO that came out in 1999?
@MikedotFoster/blog: I'm giving this to Sony Online Entertainment for its handling of Landmark. Damned if that studio isn't putting its all into communicating with players and building a community, right down to the point of that horrible unskippable eight-hour video introduction by Dave Georgeson on the Landmark beta. They want players to feel valuable, and that focus is going to pay off for them in a big way.
@MJ_Guthrie/blog: I have to give this award to SOE. The studio continues to put significant development into its oldest titles, giving fans worthwhile content instead of just letting the games slide into oblivion while focusing on the new and shiny titles. Just look at both EQ and EQII's expansions! And SOE continues to stand behind its stance to be transparent with players -- it wasn't just a gimmick or taken phrase used once then tossed aside.
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Our awards so far...