MMO RPGs have been a staple in the online gaming world for well over a decade now, but are users starting to migrate away from their MMO RPG roots?

It is important that I make the distinction ‘MMO RPG’, because I think the commonly used term ‘MMO’ has become overused and now encompasses more games than people think.

In the past, the term MMO referred to those few games, like Everquest, that brought millions of people around the world together to enjoy one common game. A decade ago, that was only possible on PCs and through massively multiplayer online RPGs like WoW, Everquest, and others, but today, through broadband internet connectivity and internet enabled gaming consoles, we are able to hop online and play almost any game online with people from across the world at a moment’s notice.

This fact changes 2 important aspects of MMO gaming. The first is the context of the term ‘MMO’. It changes from a term that specifically referred to online RPGs to one that can refer any game with an online multiplayer aspect. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and League of Legends can all be considered MMOs because of the size of their online community. The second is the social aspect. MMO RPGs were popular because of their unique ability to bring gamers from all over the world together, but now online RPGs have much more competition.

The change has caused many once popular MMO RPGs to lose subscribers, change to free-to-play models, or just shut down all together. The once crowded MMO RPG fanbase has started to thin out due to competition, and it is beginning to hurt developers. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and RIFT started out using subscription based models, but have since switched to free-to-play models in order to attract more fans to the game. These games still offer a pay to play option, but they are relying on in game cash shops and microtransactions to stay afloat. Even World of Warcraft, the reigning king of MMO RPGs, has been affected. PC Mag reported that World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2013.

So, it is clear that the players are fleeing from the online RPG realm, but where are they going? The simple answer is everywhere. MMO RPG offshoots, or MOBAs, like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have become wildly popular, boasting over 500,000 concurrent users per game on an almost daily basis. Call of Duty is consistently one of the highest selling games every year, and it garners one of the largest online communities in the gaming world. Combine these heavy hitters with other games with large online communities like Battlefield, Halo, Borderlandsand CounterStrike, and you will get a large portion of the ex-MMO RPG crowd.

The other portion can be found in small completely free to play games like World of Tanks, Hawken, Warframe, and the legion of other indie titles that have made big names for themselves on PC and other consoles.

There are definitely still a large quantity of MMO RPG players out there. There are new MMO RPGs popping up everyday that people love to play, and the old favorites are still alive and kicking- WoW is still boasting 8 million subscribers. The market is alive, but there is definitely a noticeable shift.

Now to answer the main question. Is the MMO market changing? Absolutely. With the introduction of broadband internet and online enabled gaming consoles, it was inevitable. People aren’t confined to one type of game to sate their social gaming needs anymore. We have options, and it is clear that the online gaming community is taking full advantage of the diverse array of online games that are now at their fingertips.

About The Author

Nick C
COO/Podcast Host

I’m Nick, a proud nerd and gamer. I rock my Star Wars tattoos like I’m a real Jedi, and I hope I will be making games first and playing them second in the future!