Between day one patches, season passes, microtransactions and free updates, games are rarely released into a vacuum these days. It’s true that some don’t get as much love as they deserve, but there are shining beacons out there of developers and publishers who see their games as more of an ongoing service, who continue to roll out content and patches to keep players invested long after other games have been deleted from your hard drive.
It’s time that we recognise these long term efforts and shine a light on the best examples of this, with our Ongoing Support award for the teams that simply can’t walk away from their creation, whether they’re just a few months old with a bright future ahead of them or several year old veterans.
Final Fantasy XIV endured one of the rockiest starts any game could have, particularly for one from one of the most revered franchises in gaming. In its original form here was an MMORPG beset by issues, worst of which being that it simply wasn’t any fun to play. However, Square Enix assessed the situation, brought in charismatic new director Naoki Yoshida, and set to work. This ultimately resulted giving the game a hard reset in the form of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. To say that the update rectified many of the previous issues would be an immense understatement, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
For the last four years the team have continued to roll out fresh patches and fixes at an impressive speed, with two major expansions also expanding the world and its narrative into one of the most compelling RPG experiences out there. The release of Stormblood this year was a triumph for the MMORPG, and with player numbers growing to over ten million, it now sits amongst the genre’s elite.
Admittedly FFXIV enjoys a unique position as a subscription based MMO, but when other games are regularly charging fees for their DLC and expansions the distinction isn’t as big as it once was. There are also no signs that support will cease any time soon, with Yoshida and his team having already added new quests, modes, and items, as well as rebalancing various elements in just the few short months since Stormblood’s launch. As such, it’s a worthy winner for our award for Ongoing Support 2017.
Splatoon 2 – Runner Up
No, their online set up still isn’t up to snuff, but NIntendo are getting pretty great at supporting their multiplayer games post-release. Arguably they found their model for this with the first Splatoon on Wii U, and so it’s no surprise that Splatoon 2 takes that same model and refines it further.
There’s been regular content drops for the game since launch, whether it’s a new SplatFest, a new weapon, sub-weapon and special weapon combo, or the series of new and revamped maps. Even the Salmon Run mode gets its fair share of love, with two new maps added alongside the two that the game launched with.
All of this has been free, with Nintendo pledging to give the game a year of additional content, which will take us deep into 2018.
Overwatch – Runner Up
With a monthly cadence to its patches, Overwatch is easily one of the best supported games this year, with a steady stream of seasonal events and new content. It almost sits at odds with Blizzard’s determination to only release things when they’re ready. A trio of new characters have spiced up the matches, with the heavily contrasting play styles of Orisa, the highly anticipated Doomfist and Moira, there’s also been a handful of new maps to the table, and the game still has plenty of appeal after 18 months on store shelves.
The one thing really holding Overwatch back for our Ongoing Support award is that these updates and additions can feel a bit perfunctory at times. Sure, it’s lovely to have new skins, but they add nothing to the actual game except a reason to delve once again into its loot boxes, the main game modes they’ve played around with are genre staples like Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch, and we’re already seeing the game settle into a groove with its seasonal events. Here’s hoping Blizzard can shake things up in 2018.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Final Fantasy XV
- For Honor
- Rainbow Six Siege
Do you have any games this year that have grabbed you and not let go with a steady stream of new content and updates? Let us know in the comments below.