Looking back at the genre's beginnings, who would have ever thought such a staggering number of massively multiplayer titles would be available today? Or that a lot of them would be thriving? While some have fallen to the wayside, many of the biggest names are continuing on a decade or more later, somehow still finding hundreds of thousands or even millions of players to populate their servers.
Not only has the number of MMOs steadily increased over the years, but overall interest in them continues to climb from gamers who normally prefer other styles, in no small part due to the gradual shift towards a free-to-play model. Most notably this year, Wildstar just went the free route and Guild Wars 2 is still going strong using that strategy.
The advent of Early Access titles is also a boon both for the genre and (more importantly) for the players, as it ensures quality titles with strong mechanics will get the funding and word of mouth required to thrive, while those games that are more half baked either get the extra attention needed to succeed or they fall by the wayside.
Despite those advantages, there have been some major speed bumps in the industry, with a handful of anticipated titles getting cancelled or failing in early access. Looking forward to the year ahead, you can expect more to succeed than fail as expansions to classic games arrive, long-running series finally enter the MMO realm, and entirely new IPs arrive to shake things up.