Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Archive for June 2010

With 100+ free MMO games available, it can be hard to find the best ones. Since I’ve been playing free MMOs for the last few years, I decided to write up my own top 5 free MMOs list. This list will not include any MMORPGs, but rather strictly MMOs. Browser games will also be excluded from this list. The difference between MMOs and MMORPGs is that MMOs are not strictly RPGs, but rather sports, shooters and strategy games with RPG elements. Anyway, the 5 games below are must-plays for everyone. Check them all out!

#1 League of Legends

league-of-legends-team-battle As a big fan of DotA and Heroes of Newerth I loved League of Legends. The game is by Riot Games and features unique anime style art. The game is distinctly different than DotA in terms of both graphics and gameplay. Sure both games are “Aeon of Strife” games, but League of Legends has an original cast of heroes, while Heroes of Newerth copied many characters from DotA. The only other game in the genre which is Heroes of Avalon from Alaplaya, but I strongly recommend League of Legends of it, as it’s the best MMO strategy / Aeon of Strife game out there.

#2 Lost Saga

lost-saga-aoe-fireballs OGPlanet really surprised me with Lost Saga, as I was never a fan of Rumble Fighter, LaTale or even Cabal Online (OGPlanet doesn’t even publish this anymore). Lost Saga is an incredibly fun cartoony fighting MMO that plays like Rumble Fighter, except with much more customization and playable characters. What’s really fun about the game is that it has many games modes and numerous different ways to play each mode. Players can really customize their character anyway that they like, as each of the game’s many characters level up independently from each other. If you like fighting MMOs, this one is a must play.

#3 Grand Chase

grand-chase-slash.jpg Grand Chase from Ntreev isn’t exactly too impressive in terms of graphics, but its a fun cooperative MMO. It’s actually one of the only cooperative MMOs out there! I don’t know why, as co-op games are always fun. Like Ntreev’s other games, Pangya and Trickster Online, Grand Chase is an anime MMORPG. Not one of those Cute MMORPGs like Luna Online, but still an anime themed game. The game is probably most like Lunia than anything else, as the game is very linear. I really liked Grand Chase because I liked Lunia. So if you’re into cooperative stage based MMOs, Grand Chase is worth trying!

#4 Tales Runner

tales-runner-jumping-water.jpg I’ve never been a big fan of racing MMOs, but for some reason I really like Tales Runner from gPotato! Aside from Tales Runner the only other good game from gPotato is Aika Online and Fly For Fun in my opinion. Tales Runner is fun because its an original racing game. Every other racing MMO features cars, but Tales Runner doesn’t! Instead, it’s a track racing MMO, meaning players race on foot. The level designs are also really cool and challenging. If you’re even remotely interested in racing games, do check out Tales Runner.

#5 Exteel

exteel-combat-image.jpg

Exteel is a sweet mech themed sci-fi MMO from NCsoft that plays like games from the Armored Core series. You get to build and customize your own mech and battle against other players online in fast paced combat. Think of Exteel as S4 League or GunZ, but with giant robots instead! Awesome right? Exteel’s strongest point is definitely its super in depth customization. The game has like hundreds of different pats that players can mix and match. Check this game out asap if you never played it.

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Earlier last month World of Warcraft had a short promotion. Players could purchase a celestial steed in game (A special cool looking mount) for a one time payment of $25. Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind WoW made over 4 million dollars in a like 1 week. EverQuest II from Sony Online Entertainment had a similar deal where players could buy an in game pet for real life cash. They also made a lot of money. I used to think “cash shops’ were supposed to be in free to play games. After all, don’t pay to play MMORPGs make money through subscriptions? They do, but from the looks of what Everquest II and World of Warcraft did, it seems like pay to play games like cash shops too. In my opinion this is pretty stupid. Game developers are getting way too greedy. If they want to make money from cash shops they should go free to play. Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine used to be pay to play, but once they realized they can make good money from cash shops, they went free to play. So if WoW and EQ2 want to run cash shops, they should also go free to play. Making money from both subscriptions and micro transactions are a bit ridiculous. Whoever pays for these items in these subscription based games are crazy. They’re already paying a fee every month just to play the game, and on top of that they’re paying extra to get special items in game.

Games like World of Warcraft have subscriptions because they have enormous mmo development costs. Age of Conan from Funcom and Warhammer Online from Electronic Arts are also on the same boat. Star Wars: The old Republic from Bioware is rumored to cost some EA some $100 million dollars. Thats A LOT of money. These games want to recoup the development costs by charging a subscription as they think that’s more profitable. I think World of Warcraft is the only game that can actually charge a subscription these days. It’s the most popular game. Most other pay to play games including Warhammer Online and Age of Conan are in decline. If these games went free to play, they could be making so much more money through cash shops. So many pay to play games went free to play in the past and made a lot of money doing so. Obviously not all of them were successful. Archlord and RF Online both used to be pay to play and are free to play today. I think Warhammer Online should go free to play. I know I’d play it if it were F2P!

Anyway. To all the people spending real life dough for items in games like WoW / EQ2, you guys are crazy. You already pay money every month to play these games, there’s no need to pay extra just to get an in game pet that does nothing. Seriously. The WoW mount did nothing aside from look shiny!

Another major main stream video game developer jumped on the MMORPG bandwagon recently. Ubisoft recently announced that they have 5+ unannounced free to play MMORPG games in development. Ubisoft already announced one game – Heroes of Might and Magic which TQ Digital is publishing for them in Asia, but they have a bunch of other games in the pipeline. Ubisoft is the fourth major game developer to jump on the free to play bandwagon. Free to play games like MapleStory from Nexon and Perfect World from Perfect World Entertainment have always been big in the East, but they’ve just recently grown big in the U.S. And the West. Electronic Arts was the first major Western game developer to begin embracing the free to play model. Their first game was Battlefield Heroes but they now publish many more including RayCity, FIFA Online, Battleforge and Lord of Ultima. They also announced their intentions to bring all of their major franchises to F2P. That’s quite a commitment.

In late 2009 Sony even began embracing the genre. Their first free to play was Free Realms, which today has over 7 million registered users. The game is largely aimed at teens, but it’s a lot of fun. Now that Free Realms has been such a big success, Sony announced that they are working on another casual MMORPG – Clone Wars Adventures. Turbine also embraced the genre last year with Dungeons and Dragons Online going free to play. Just recently (Early June), they further embraced the gene by announcing The Lord of the Rings Online going fully free to play. This bit of news was released after Turbine was acquired by Warner Brothers. I know Lord of the Rings Online was a big money maker for Turbine – so it looks like they’re taking a big gamble with this decision. I predict Lord of the Rings Online will be much more popular and profitable once it becomes free to play though. After all, Dungeons and Dragons Online exploded in popularity only after it went free to play.

With more and more Western developers embracing free to play, I wonder how long till more the less popular pay to play MMORPGs go free to play? I bet Warhammer Online and Champions Online could make a killing as free to play games, just as Dungeons and Dragons Online did.

Who would have guessed that turbine’s most successful game The Lord of the Rings Online would go free to play? I first read a rumor that Lord of the Rings would go Free to Play back in October 2009, but I didn’t believe a word of it because the game was so profitable for turbine. It wouldn’t have made sense for them to make it free to play. But boy was I wrong. That one rumor I read and linked to above, actually called this TO THE MONTH, as they said something like Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine would go free to play next year, and they posted this October, 2009. LOTRO is set to go free to play in “Fall 2010”. That’s pretty darn accurate if you ask me.

On a side note, it makes a lot of business sense for the game to go free to play. After all, Dungeons and Dragons Online from the same company was a huge success after it went free to play. Turbine said they increased revenues something like 10 fold since going free to play. On the topic of pay to play games going free to play, there have been many games now that used to be pay to play, but are now free to play. Games like RF Online and Archlord both used to be pay to play for a while, but relaunched as free to play. I don’t know how successful these games are as free to play, but its awesome that instead of shutting down like Tabula Rasa did, these MMOs are still available as free to play games. On a side note, Tabula Rasa should have went free to play instead of closing. Maybe it would have enjoyed the same success dungeons and dragons Online did. Who knows. Few other games that used to be pay to play but are now free to play are Anarchy Online, Savage 2 and Fusion Fall.

I’m a big fan of free to play and I hope Warhammer Online as well as Pirates of the Burning Sea will go free to play one day. I mean, these second rate World of Warcraft competitors NEED to go free to play to stay competitive. This is especially true for MMOs like Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Champions Online which are slowly losing subscriptions. Heck Lineage 2 is getting a bit old now too and should go free to play. I think Lineage 2 is already free to play in Russia, so it may the first out of this list to go free to play everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if Warhammer and Ultima Online go free to play, as Electronic Arts has been slowly embracing the entire free to play genre, as they’ve already released numerous free to play titles including FIFA Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes and Lord of Ultima.

Time will tell if Lord of the Rings will have success as a free to play game. I strongly believe it will.

I have to admit. I’m a fan of action MMORPGs. Games like GhostX, Dungeons and Dragons Online and Dragonica Online have some of the best combat of any MMORPG. I’m not saying they’re the best games, I’m just saying that they have genuinely fun combat. I guess I’ve grown a liking for these types of games after playing boring point and click games for years. Well, the games themselves aren’t boring, just the combat is. I remember when I used to play Ragnarok Online or Requiem from Gravity, I would just click on an enemy and wait till they died. That’s it. That’s how combat worked. Heck, this is how combat works in MOST MMORPG games. Point and click combat is the “norm”. Luckily, newer games like Battle of the Immortals from Perfect World Entertainment and Mytheon from TrueGames are trying to change things. Both of these games have stellar “hands on” combat which actually requires play input. No more clicking and waiting. I have to say I’m very impressed with both of these titles.

Mytheon Screenshot

Action MMORPGs are really starting to evolve too. They used to be super “niche”, as in there were only a handful of them in the entire MMO market, but things are changing now. There are a bunch of awesome upcoming action MMORPGs. Divine Souls from Outspark for example looks really awesome. The game has gorgeous 3D graphics and fast paced combat (based on the trailers). The only downside to it is the game only has four classes, and they’re all gender locked. Hopefully Divine Souls will be more fun than Erebus: Travia Reborn. I had a chance to play Erebus during its closed beta, and I wasn’t a fan a tall. Another cool upcoming action MMO is Vindictus from Nexon. This is probably one of the most hyped free to play MMOs EVER, but based on the trailers the game looks quite epic. The game is still in open beta in Korea and is expected to launch in the U.S. Sometime in late 2010. It’s interesting seeing Nexon release Vidinctus, as the game is incredibly violent and Nexon is known for more “kiddy” games like MapleStory and Mabinogi.

Vindictus Screenshot

There are a bunch of other cool action MMORPGs coming out that I didn’t mention too. From the looks of it, 2010 will be awesome year for the genre. Hopefully “action” MMORPGs become the “norm”, as I’m getting quite tired of point and click games.