Top 5 MMOs Everyone Forgot About
Neil Kewn (Murxidon) – OnRPG Journalist
These days, players are spoilt for choice when it comes which MMORPG they play. There are literally hundreds of different games just waiting for the next ship-jumping gamer to subscribe to. With World of Warcraft recruiting enough players to populate a small country, and new MMOs hitting the shelves nearly every month, MMO gaming is bigger than ever. Of course not all of them can have a bite of the MMO gaming cherry, and developers lavish millions of dollars on their titles in the hope that you prefer spending time in their virtual world. Some of them have went on to do quite well, many have fallen by the wayside, and there are a select few that people just forgot existed.
5: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Heralded by many to be the MMORPG that will finally dethrone World of Warcraft, ushering in a new era of online gaming, expectation was high for WAR’s 2008 release. The game’s “revolutionary” realm-vs-realm PvP combat excited many, whilst World of Warcraft players who had grown tired of their travels in Azeroth insisted they were jumping ship upon release.
Most were back within two months.
Despite a positive critical reception and impressive subscription numbers, the game had a spectacular fall from grace just several months after it was released. Blizzard launched World of Warcraft’s second expansion, and players not keen on paying for two games each month went out and bought Wrath of the Lich King instead. Players had mixed views on Warhammer. The highly-publicized PvP proved to live up to the hype, but the rest of the game fell short of expectations (although some insist the game’s current state is much improved from that upon release). Nevertheless, issues with balancing were widely reported, and those who did stay found themselves struggling to find players to PvP with.
4: The Matrix Online
The Matrix Online allowed players to carry on where the Wachowski brothers’ film left off. Launched in early 2005, the game was highly anticipated by Matrix fans and received a relatively positive response from critics upon its release. Players who downed the red pill had three classes to choose from, each mimicking the traditional tank/healer/damage class types found in most MMOs.
Of course, with the game bearing the licence of one of the most prolific action movie franchises ever, combat suitably consisted of over the top martial arts and bullet dodging dives. Praise was also given to the game’s storyline, which evolved and changed throughout the course of MxO’s existence.
…Still waiting for The Matrix 2 and 3…
Despite low subscription numbers throughout the entirety of its tenure, The Matrix Online stayed online for almost five years, until Sony Online Entertainment eventually pulled the plug in August 2009. The end-of-game world event involved the death of every single character, now everyone could be like Neo!
3: Anarchy Online
Remember Anarchy Online? It’s still running, but they haven’t been in the limelight (that is, filling my inbox with promotional material and free trial offers) for several years now. It is one of the longest-running MMORPGs out there, having been online for almost ten years. The Sci-Fi MMO takes place on the world of Rubi-Ka, with players having a huge range of different classes and an impressive number of skills to choose from.
After a launch that developers Funcom would like to erased from memory, Anarchy Online’s subscription rates remained steady throughout the first five years of release. Heavy promotion and the successful introduction of play-for-free accounts helped keep player numbers at a respectable level. Ultimately, World of Warcraft’s highly documented success just so happens to coincide with AO’s steady fall during the latter half of the decade.
A multitude of expansion packs were released over the ten years, bringing features such as player housing and shops. The core gameplay is a familiar affair, as the game plays like a very traditional MMO by today’s standards. If you can excuse a graphical engine that may cause seizures, Anarchy Online’s novel and interesting feature set is something a lot more people should have experienced.
2: The Sims Online
The Sims is the best-selling PC video game in history. Will Wright’s “people simulator” gives you the power to design, create and develop your own humans, all the while shaping the environment around them. For years now fans have filled message boards with requests for one missing feature – Multiplayer. Convinced that the classic Sims gameplay could translate well into an MMORPG, Electronic Arts launched The Sims Online in late 2002.
The Sims is famous for its deep level of customization, but moving your Sims into a persistent world meant that some aspects of the game that had become synonymous with its CD-ROM counterpart were lost. You had direct control over just one Sim, and spent the majority of your time fulfilling his or her needs and levelling their numerous skills. Your character regularly had to eat, sleep and be entertained in order to level effectively.
When you had enough Simoleans (the currency used in all Sims games), you could finally start enjoying the customization on offer in TSO. This included buying houses and furnishing them with expensive items, and paying other players for in-game services. The core gameplay of The Sims usually begins to grind after several hours (although that could be because I usually base my Sims off myself), and without multiple Sims to control and environments to manipulate, painting the same picture over and over to increase your Creativity skill became very boring, very quickly.
The game was extremely successful at the time of release, despite its monthly subscription fee and high system requirements. Subscription numbers reached a peak of over 100,000 before falling dramatically barely a year later. Player numbers continued to dwindle until the game’s eventual closure in 2008, despite EA announcing a major rebranding effort in an attempt to compete with the then-booming Second Life.
Speaking of which…
1: Second Life
Second Life has been around for years now. The virtual world gives players, or inhabitants, the chance to live out a “second life” on the internet. You can build, shop, design, eat, trade and chat – Even make money. Second Life was set to be the next big thing in early 2007 when it suddenly found masses of publicity after being featured in the media. Businesses flocked to Linden Lab’s creation hoping to attract new customers by building homes, billboards and islands dedicated to their products.
Nothing. The game slowly declined back into obscurity after company’s quickly lost interest. After throwing thousands of dollars at the game, they soon realised that sustaining a presence in Second Life was not financially viable, and the amount of publicity gathered by their short appearance was not worth the investment. Although player numbers increased dramatically at the time, and Linden Lab’s short blitz of publicity turned out to be extremely profitable, businesses and the media have long moved on.
Can’t say I blame them.