The year 2012 brought the MMO and video game world a lot of interesting things. We had the shut down of City of Heroes, the appearance of games such as RaiderZ and Guild Wars 2. We’ve had some shake ups with Atari going bankrupt and Perfect World Entertainment pulling much more weight in our industry than before (buying their way into Star Trek Online).

We’ve even seen numerous games go free-to-play that weren’t before with STO becoming free-to-play and Star Wars Online following suit (although to a rocky start.) Even Secret World is now free-to-play as well, although with a box price over its head.

As is traditional for GameOgre, during January we reminisce about how the previous year went and award our favorite games, and here we go for 2012.

RaiderZ – Best Free-to-Play MMORPG of 2012

Out of a number of contenders during 2012 that included an open targeted and active combat system RaiderZ published by Perfect World Entertainment and developed by MAIET Entertainment.  It has gained a great deal of acclaim here at GameOgre getting both a Featured Game of the Week as well as a glowing first impressions article.  As a game, it features stunning graphics, a curious-if-amusing narrative (with some bizarre voice acting) as well as seasonal events to keep things interesting.

World of Warcraft – Best Pay-to-Play MMORPG of 2012

Blizzard is the game company that just cannot be dethroned. World of Warcraft has been the unstoppable MMORPG gaming juggernaut for many years and 2012 was no exception. In fact, the release of the expansion, Mists of Pandaria, continued it along its trajectory to remain the king of MMORPGs in the pay-to-play market even with competitors trying to take the title. This is a constantly evolving title and in spite of having been around for so long, continues to maintain a strong presence in the MMO world.

It’s with no surprise that it grabbed best pay-to-play award from the GameOgre community.

Minecraft – Best Browser Game of 2012

Potentially one of the best sandbox indie games of all time, Minecraft richly deserves an award for not just the amazing work done to produce this title, but it’s overall impact on gaming culture. Developed by Mojang and Marcus “Notch” Presson in 2009 continued as a beta until its official release in November, 2011. The game may have seen its official release, but it’s still in development and continues to receive modifications and updates and is also attended by a thriving and lively community of modders and creative thinkers.

Minecraft truly has been an established and amazing game that spreads easily across multiple media types from a PC app, to Xbox, as well as in-browser, Android, and iOS.

League of Legends – Best MOBA of 2012

The MOBA market has seen a lot of upheaval with many-many competitors taking to the genre once it became clear it was a winning gambit. League of Legends, developed and published by Riot Games, has held the public limelight for MOBAs not just because they’ve created one of the best artistically and mechanically, but that they’ve marketed and driven the entire genre with their sheer momentum. In fact, it’s not uncommon for LoL to make the news about eSports or about how their community is a nest of hypercompetitive hostility (and sometimes must discipline or ban their own players for harassment.)

While the MOBA ecology is thriving, LoL will long be recognized as one of the best in the genre, if not just the definition. Since 2009, LoL has won eight awards from Gamespy, IGN, and Gamasutra.

Torchlight 2 – Best Online RPG of 2012

Runic Games developed Torchlight II as a successor to Torchlight (which in of itself is the spiritual successor to the Fate series). It’s a little bit similar to Diablo as an isometric RPG loot-piñata game that includes some unique attributes such as pets that have their own inventory and ability to sell loot for the player as well as transform into monsters. It runs on the OGRE engine and provides players the ability to play alongside their friends in teams across dynamically regenerated maps.

As a game, it’s distributed on Steam and runs approximately $19.99 making it a pay-to-play online game. So far, it’s proven to be an excellent addition to gaming.

Marvel Avengers Alliance – Best Social Game of 2012

Social networking games generally run in browsers and often on Flash, Marvel Avengers Alliance is developed by Playdom and thrusts players into the world of the Marvel Comics on Facebook. It launched on Facebook in 2012 alongside a promotion for the Marvel Studios crossover film The Avengers and it received a nomination for the Best Social Game at the Video Games Awards in 2012 (and made it here in the GameOgre awards if not at VGA 2012.) MAA players find themselves set in the role of an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and levels that hero up from a mere foot soldier by following a comic book plot.

Ogre Wars – Best MMORTS/Strategy Game of 2012

It’s not a proper GameOgre awards without the community favorite, Ogre Wars. This game cements much of GameOgre’s community by pitting friends against friends in a no-holds-barred battle for supremacy. OW is a game of wits played with thoughtful strategy, ever-changing diplomacy, and shifting allegiances according to what players need at the moment. As a turn-based-strategy, it runs atop the Conquest system developed by Jaxel.

The 4th Coming – Best MUD of 2012

Even though they’ve essentially been replaced by the MMO and social media, MUDs (multi-user dungeons) still exist in 2012 and have a veteran following—and looking at odd text-rich, graphic-poor games such as Kingdom of Loathing. As an MMORPG, The 4th Coming was developed in 1999 by Vircom Interacive (the game is now owned by Dialsoft) and still exists in the action role-playing game, dungeon crawl, hack and slash genre, and it’s distributed on CD-ROM, although it is now also a digital download.

T4C belongs in the graphical MUD category, using an isometric tile-based engine to let players explore the massively multiplayer world—it’s old technology now, but still has quite a community built up over the years.

Blade & Soul – Most Anticipated Game of 2013

Developed by Team Bloodlust and published by NCSoft, Blade & Soul is an MMORPG originally codenamed Project [M] while it was being teased to the market in 2007. Developed for release on consoles such as PS3 and Xbox 360 alongside PC—it eventually did find a release in Korea and China in 2012—but the Western territories (North America and Europe [even Japan]) have not seen a release yet and still don’t have an announced date. The game will likely function within a Chinese mythological framework with highly stylized characters, eight classes, and multiple humanoid races.

Halo 4 – Best Console Game of 2012

Over the years, Microsoft has seen no better seller than their Halo science-fiction video game series. Not only did Bungee start what is now a gamer cultural phenomenon that has extended from eight games, online tournaments, books, comic books, and even a feature film. Halo 4 is the most recent release in the series release for consoles and PC that follows the activities of the Spartan marines and well-known Master Chief (depending on the game.) It outlines the war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. Also a major character in the series is a special AI, Cortana, who often accompanies Master Chief and helps tie together the narrative of the Halo series.

Guild Wars 2 – Best Online Game 2012

NCSoft teased Guild Wars 2 developed by AreaNet for quite a while before its eventual launch and they did so by presenting breathtaking worlds and beautiful graphics. Released in August 2012, GW2 is the direct successor to Guild Wars and adds new character races, but changes many of the classes of its ancestor, and it does a very good job of revivifying the world. Not only does GW2 focus on exploration and gatherings it provides game mechanics that encourage this between vistas, adventure-comes-to-you hearts (instead of quests) and dynamic events. This includes giant world boss dragons that require dozens of players to take down in an epic all-pile-on with enticing rewards.

First runner-up: League of Legends; Contender: World of Tanks.