The GDC Online Awards Hall of Fame recognizes a specific online game that has resulted in the long-term advancement of the medium, pioneering major shifts in online game development and games as a whole
World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)
This year's Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame inductee, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, was released in November 2004, 10 years after the launch of the company's venerable Warcraft franchise (1994's Warcraft®: Orcs & Humans™). Now regarded as a legacy in its own right, the game has dominated the MMORPG landscape, setting the standard for countless other games in the genre.
With its focus on delivering a polished player experience, World of Warcraft propelled MMORPGs into the mainstream. The game offered the community a reprieve from long load times and steep learning curves, which only made the colorful graphics, engaging gameplay, exciting quests and raids and immersive world more impressive.
As the title nears its eighth anniversary, World of Warcraft remains one of the top-rated PC games of all time and continues to thrive globally with a massive and passionate subscriber base. With three released expansion packs since launch and a fourth, Mists of Pandaria™, around the corner, World of Warcraft is one of the most profitable and popular entertainment franchises in history, a pop culture fixture that is sure to transcend generations. Members of the Blizzard Entertainment World of Warcraft team will be on stage to accept the Hall of Fame award.
EverQuest (Sony Online Entertainment)
Receving the of Hall of Fame Award for 2011 is Sony Online Entertainment's 3D fantasy-themed MMO title, EverQuest. Launched in March 1999, EverQuest is one of the most important early 3D MMO titles which introduced the concept of guilds and raiding within an online world.
Now in its twelth year of continuous operation, EverQuest has seen millions of gamers flock to its fantasy MMO universe and has since hosted 17 expansion packs, and multiple spinoff console titles, sequels, novelizations and a board game. EverQuest has seen such enduring popularity among fans that it still runs independently alongside its sequel, EverQuest II.
Ultima Online (Electronic Arts)
Electronic Arts’ Ultima Online, the Origin-created game that is now the longest continually running massively multiplayer online game in history, will be honored with the first ever Hall of Fame award for online games.
The persistent world installment for the seminal Ultima game franchise, which launched on September 25th, 1997, has now been operating for almost 14 years – and was a key part of the wave of late 1990s subscription-based MMOs which brought the genre to much wider attention.
Some of Ultima Online’s most important features included in-game events affecting the entire lore of the world, progressive features for their time such as item crafting and persistent player housing. Continued upgrades of in-game content and even game engine have helped to keep the game fresh for players, some of which have subscribed continuously for over a decade.