The conclusion of the 2021 Mod of the Year Awards will mark the 20th anniversary of the event which first began in 2002 the year that ModDB launched. Today we're celebrating the 20 victors, all decided by community vote, and speculating who will be the prestigious 21st winner of the Mod of the Year awards!
The big mods that missed out
Some big names that missed out on winning (that you can see in the Mod Hall of Fame) includes Counter-Strike and Team Fortress which came out before 2002. DotA Allstars was overlooked almost entirely as the early days of ModDB had it's roots strongly in FPS mods. DayZ was the 2012 runner up behind Black Mesa and amazingly PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battle Royale (PUBG) was an editors choice in 2014 but never featured in the players choice voting.
The mods that won
Every mod that has placed in Mod of the Year is a remarkable achievement, proving that the creativity of modders has and always will flourish! Many of the games on this list went on to become commercially successful games, and we'd be surprised if any of the developers of these projects didn't go on to have a fruitful career in the industry! Without further ado, let's break down the ModDB Mod of the Year - Hall of Fame!
Ah, 2002 - the inaugural year for the site and the now iconic annual awards. In a time predating many of the exceptionally moddable games that have defined the rest of the 2000s and, indeed, much of the 2010s, Natural Selection set a remarkable standard going forwards with a gameplay formula that would be influential for years to come. The sequel, Natural Selection 2, is now a standalone game on Steam. The developers behind Natural Selection have since gone on to develop other hit titles like Subnautica.
2003 Winner: The Specialists
The first two Mod of the Year awards saw a good showing from Half-Life mods on the goldsrc engine, with The Specialists nabbing 1st in 2003! Mixing Max Payne's stylish gunplay and movements with yet more combinations of strategies inspired by other hit action games of the period, it's no wonder The Specialists made a splash (and is still fun today). The lead developer went on to put his action-honed skills to work on Crysis and Far Cry!
2004 Winner: Red Orchestra
By Tripwire Interactive
Red Orchestra, like so many other quality mods that nabbed the Mod of the Year awards, inspired such success and community interest that it went on to enjoy commercial success as well. The paid titles published by Tripwire Interactive, it joins a number of other mods that graduated into standalone games under the studio including Killing Floor 2.
2005 Winner: Garrys Mod
Does Garry's Mod need any kind of introduction at this point? This year, it surpassed twenty million sales, and the people behind it went on to form Facepunch Studios and create the equally influential Rust. Now with their sights set on a new platform for user generated content, Garry's Mod nonetheless continues to prosper with hundreds of addons added to its workshop page every week.
2006 Winner: Point of Existence: 2
By Point of Existence Team
Whilst Battlefield 1942 was no pushover, Battlefield 2 was a sledgehammer of a sequel that made a tremendous splash on release. Still one of the most moddable entries in the Battlefield franchise, it has enjoyed plenty of modding limelight over the years. Point of Existence: 2 was a sequel to a mod of the same name for 1942, and within just a year of Battlefield 2's release, made a great impression. The lead developer now works for Turbo Tape games, creating educational VR titles for schools, colleges, and the military.
2007 Winner: Zombie Panic! Source
By Monochrome, Inc.
Sequel to the equally impressive Zombie Panic! for Half-Life, Zombie Panic! Source innovated on the original in every way. Graduating to a Steam release under Valve's policy of allowing amazing mods for the Source Engine onto Steam, it also has since spawned a commercial title - Contagion!
2008 Winner: Project Reality: Battlefield 2
By Project Reality Team
Project Reality is one of the all-time best Battlefield 2 mods, proving that today just as strongly as in 2008. With public updates released this year, an active and bustling community that still organises regular events and game nights, and a development team that has shifted and evolved to stay on top of the newest ideas to bring to the mod, Project Reality is poised to stay in the spotlight for years to come.
2009 Winner: MechWarrior: Living Legends
By MWLL Community Edition Development Team
Battletech as a franchise hasn't seen a whole lot of games - we have fans to thank for much of the truly quality Battletech experiences of yesteryear - but the Mechwarrior series is one that has cropped up from time to time. In 2009, this mod team's homage to the series was rewarded, and they also had the good grace to hand off development officially to a community-led team of passionate fans to ensure Living Legends continues to be both!
2010 Winner: Forgotten Hope 2
By Forgotten Hope Devs
The other "big name" in Battlefield 2 modding, and for a time one of the big names in 1942 modding, too! Forgotten Hope 2, much like Project Reality, enjoys a healthy community activity to this day with active support and updates from its development team; in addition, its lead developer went on to work for an Icelandic games company, Gogogic, in the next phase of his career.
2011 Winner: Multi Theft Auto: San Andreas
By Multi Theft Auto
In the years preceding GTA: Online, Multi Theft Auto: San Andreas left a mark as the best way to wreak a little havoc with friends. With mayhem that can still only be found on the craziest custom servers for GTA 5, Multi Theft Auto was the stuff of many teens' dreams, brought to life.
2012 Winner: Black Mesa
By Crowbar Collective
Black Mesa is probably one of the most famous "modding success stories" out there. Supported by Valve in the 2000s when even they saw the value in this team's ambitions, Black Mesa went on to develop a fully-realised remake of the original Half-Life, seen to fruition finally in 2020 with the release of the 1.0 edition that included Xen and a host of other improvements over the years. With a definitive edition in the works, Crowbar Collective have their own plans to come!
2013 Winner: Just Cause 2: Multiplayer
By Just Cause 2: Multiplayer Mod
This isn't the first nor the last multiplayer-focused mod to win Mod of the Year - but all mods that allow joint play in previous solo games are deserving of some special love. Once again bringing the feature at a time preceding its official inclusion, Just Cause 2: Multiplayer is another case of modders picking up where studios leave off, for the benefit of everyone!
2014 Winner: Euro Truck Simulator 2 Multiplayer
By TruckersMP Team
The soft, calming experience of trucking over long-haul distances is one sometimes best enjoyed alone, but sometimes best enjoyed with a friend - and that's exactly what this team made happen. A casual conversation with internet friends takes on a warmer tone when done along a long motorway at night, with a long journey ahead made better by company.
2015 Winner: Edain Mod
By Edain Team
When it comes to some games, the modding scene can sometimes be dominated by a pair of equally incredible mods, and Edain is one half of that incredible pair for the Battle for Middle-Earth II modding community. Another long-runner who maintains support after all these years, it's no wonder Edain won Mod of the Year with its incredible support of this quality title.
2016 Winner: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Chernobyl
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s modding community is one of the largest on the site - something directly supported by the game's developers opening up the game to unprecedented support. Free use of assets, standalone conversions, the works - and Call of Chernobyl is an example of this in action. A huge expansion-sized mod that transforms the game, it's a hallmark of what MOTY is all about celebrating - huge mods achieving huge feats!
2017 Winner: Brutal Doom
In decades of DOOM modding, it's hard to say whether any mod has blown up to the degree that Brutal Doom has. Innovating on and revitalising the iconic classic, Brutal Doom turns gore up to eleven and, meanwhile, isn't afraid to share the spotlight, with an active modding community for this mod! Few mods can boast their own dedicated creator communities, but Sergeant Mark IV has committed to continuing this trend in his indie successor to Brutal Doom, with an emphasis on modding support and fostering creativity.
2018 Winner: Fallout: New California
By Radian-Helix Media
In a year where Fallout 76 was garnering headlines (for various reasons) and newer Fallouts had been and gone, Fallout: New California proved the older titles still had many tricks up their sleeves. Producing basically a completely new Fallout game in its own right, with new characters, stories, voice-acting, a new open-world map, new weapons, and new everything else, it's no wonder the developers saw their ambitions transition into the indie development space, as well.
By 2019, we're starting to get to mods even newer users of the site have likely seen around - and Empire at War: Remake: Galactic Civil War is one that made a splash and continues to stoke hype whenever an update is announced. Transforming the graphics of the now fifteen years old Empire at War to an almost recognisable level of visual fidelity, this mod won the hearts, minds, and eyes of site viewership.
2020 Winner: Age of the Ring
By Age of the Ring Development Team
The other half of the Battle for Middle-Earth II modding dichotomy, Age of the Ring is a mod whose place on this list was a long time coming. In development for years, still actively supported, and still pushing out meaningful, impressive updates, Age of the Ring flourishes in 2021 and it was a genuine joy to see this incredible mod finally make the pick last year.
2021 Winner: The Chronicles of Myrtana
By The Chronicles of Myrtana Team
The newest addition to the ModDB Hall of Fame is the huge The Chronicles of Myrtana, a total conversion for Gothic II that transforms the game into a whole new experience. A gigantic, fresh open world rewards exploration and immersion into the environment, with new quests, a new story, and more secrets populating the mod. An incredibly ambitious mod with a remarkable release, this mod really does Change The Game!
From 2002 to 2021 and beyond...
Each year we commission a custom "award logo", to mark the occasion, so if you are after more history and nostalgia, see the logos from the last 20 years.
The nature of Mod of the Year is sometimes the winner is obvious; sometimes it's a sleeper hit that gathered attention at the eleventh hour; and sometimes it's anything between! The ever-popular S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anomaly has continuously ruled the charts this year for popular mods, generating its own exceptionally popular addon creation scene. Meanwhile, Unification Mod - Dawn of War: SoulStorm is a mod proving Dawn of War still has ample staying power in 2021, bringing its own community to bear. Both have placed before in Mod of the Year, but have yet to claim the elusive 1st place position - meaning for both mods, ultimate victory is still on the table!
Which of these titans of the past is your favourite? What mods are you hoping make the cut this year? Are there any sleeper hits you think might take the 1st place spot? Leave a comment down below on your thoughts, and get ready for when the results are announced later this month!
Damn this list makes me feel old
Impressive, I enjoyed the contents of ZPS and BM
those eras were so good!
I'm betting this is Mental Omega's year.
Oh I'd love that. MO is extremely deserving.
this is history, yep :з
All of these are deserving of MOTY, congrats to these masterpieces! 😸
Absolutely - all masterpieces! And some beat massive names that have defined complete genres of games!
These are really, REALLY Fun to play. Can't see more and expanded mods. I love these. :D
The specialists ! such an awesome MOD in 2003 !!! :o
My guesses from the mods i track i believe the winner may be from these:
"LotR Realms in Exile", "Divide and Conquer", "Between Empires", "Bannerlord Online" (aain, only from what im tracking)
But im seeing a lot of Command and Conquer mods there so it means the C&C community is very much active, the award will probably go to a C&C mod. I bet a cheeseburguer on this and 4 McNuggets
I remember being fairly shocked when the Euro Truck Simulator mod won the 2014, but in hindsight it's invigorating that all kinds of genres have managed to shine on the on the Mod of Year votings. So, kudos to all teams who have been picked as winners!
Farming simulator has more players than Battlefield...
That mod is a joke compared to Call of Chernobyl which should have won that year. I hope that SCS Software makes the multiplayer so this mod can die.
Congrats to all! Amazing mods! Many of them became full games already!