The Piggie Award Winners 2011! Part 2: News And Affairs

Part 1 of the Piggies Awards – Game Elements | Nominees for the Piggies

And welcome back! After a short break caused by, well, the US Congress and Senate, we’re back with part 2 of our annual awards for MMORPGs and MMORPG blogging!

Today, we’re looking at 2011’s news, events, and general shenanigans in the MMO world…

Biggest controversy

2011 was not short of controversy, that’s for sure – and all of it was centered around WoW. The Raid Finder nearly won this one – and is establishing itself a commanding lead for the 2012 awards this year – but we decided that the “announcement” of a thing was not the same thing as its release. There wasn’t actually that much controversy around raiding guilds being banned for exploiting – even the guilds themselves admitted they were probably asking for it. But after that, the decision became much harder.

In the end, we felt that the destruction of Theramore, with its thousands of posts mostly opposed, and the Firelands nerfs, with their dozens of blog posts, came in behind the greatest controversy of the year – the airing of the homophobic Corpsegrinder interview at Blizzcon. Whilst I initially argued that it wasn’t so much a controversy as an outcry, Johnnie pointed out that in the wider community, and particularly on the forums, there were plenty of people arguing both sides of the case, offensive as that might seem. Plus, of course, the fascinating group who simply failed to understand that homophobic insults could possibly be offensive, and instead assumed the entire fuss was about Corpsegrinder insulting the Alliance…

Thus, because it was a huge deal, provoked extremely strong reactions on both sides, and was about a very serious subject indeed, we’re calling the airing of the Corpsegrinder interview at Blizzcon the biggest MMORPG controversy of 2011.

Most Appreciated Announcement

I must admit, I argued for the lack of a Dungeon Finder in SWTOR as my personal “most appreciated” announcement of 2011! But beyond that, it was pretty quickly down to a couple of big, big deals – the announcement of Battle Tags in WoW and other Blizzard games, fixing the horribly broken privacy intrusion that was RealID, Mike Morhaine’s apology for Corpsegrinder, and the announcement of Transmogrification, also in WoW, to the universal joy of everyone who ever grimaced as they equipped their new cricket-bat sword.

Mike Morhaine’s apology was the Right Thing To Do, unquestionably, and was definitely appreciated – although we noted that there were plenty of people even on that thread arguing against his apology. Wow. And I’m personally very glad about Battle Tags, which might reintroduce at least some of the community back into WoW.

But the winner of this category, from blog posts on the subject alone, unquestionably has to be Transmogrification in WoW Patch 4.3. Looking back over the year, no other single issue has dominated MMO blogging in the way that Transmog did. There’s hardly a blog out there that didn’t raise a cheer at some point, and hardly a WoW player amongst us who didn’t, at the very least, mutter a quiet “yeah, OK, that’s actually a good idea”. Grats, Blizzard -you got that one very, very right.

MMORPG Company Of The Year

Let’s be honest, there’s only one possible winner here. We were both amused and somewhat saddened to note that Blizzard Entertainment didn’t even get a nomination this year. And whilst Turbine did release a new expansion, they’ve had far from a spotless 2011. From badly mishandled security breaches to raid and instance content that has, shall we say, not been greeted with universal acclaim, about the best you can say is that they’ve probably had a better year than some.

At the end of the day, only one MMORPG company can claim to have hardly had a word said against them in 2011 – and that’s Bioware. 2012 is already showing it’ll be a rockier year for them, but for now, with a massive buildup, masterful press handling, a beta that somehow didn’t attract any major criticism, and a smooth and 90% successful launch that managed to capture most of the gaming world, they rocked out 2011.

Most “Er…What?” moment in MMORPGs this year

Johnnie, Becca and I all picked a different option from the nominees in this category for our winner.

Personally, despite the randomness of the Raid Finder’s loot from time to time, I didn’t feel that it was an “er, what?” so much as a “New Game System Not Thought Out Properly Shocker!”. And given the writing scrawled in increasingly large and anguished writing on the Blizzard wall re game difficulty and how it kills subscriptions, I was slightly disappointed but not surprised to find out that Dragon Soul was not exactly Sunwell difficulty. (Of course, as we learned a day or so ago, it’s already being made easier still, albeit in a far more sensible way than the sweeping Firelands nerfs).

No, I selected the discovery that Mists of Pandaria would, in fact, be the new expansion – said discovery coming after Blizzard all but flatly denied it. Johnnie, meanwhile, selected the discovery that we’d be playing bouncy, kungfuey, somewhat-reminiscent-of-another-3D-propertyey pandas in the next expansion, whilst Becca pointed to the “It’s not Pokemon Honest Guv” Pet Battle System announced in MoP as her choice for the “yerwhatnow?” moment of the year.

We looked. We thought. And then, as one, we agreed that the Mists of Pandaria Announcement Panel at Blizzcon 2011, in its entirety, with all its… quirks, was our unanimous winner for this year’s “Er… WHAT?” award.

Tune in tomorrow for the big one – the winners of the MMORPG Blogging category of the Piggies, 2011! And don’t forget to vote in the People’s Choice awards!