Since back in the days of Ultima Online and Everquest one of the biggest complaints of MMORPGers has always been paying a monthly fee. Most players are not fond of the idea of buying a game in a store for $20 to $50 and then having to shell out as much as $15 a month just to keep playing it longer than a month. Players still paid the high monthly fees though if they wanted to play a good MMORPG with nice graphics.

The Rise of the Free MMORPG

However nothing stays the same forever. Gamers now have a choice of continuing to pay a monthly fee or playing a free MMORPG. Free MMORPGs are not really that new but the genre is improving considerably in terms of quantity and quality. In other words there are better free MMORPGs and more of them. Korean MMORPGs are leading the way with several great looking free 3D MMORPGs like Thang Online Knight Online Supreme Destiny and Gate to Heavens that make money by charging for items. Other free MMORPGs make money by offering a free version along with premium ones using real money as the currency or using in-game advertising.

Knight Online

Pay-To-Play Not Going Anywhere

Despite the rise of the free MMO genre do not count the pay-to-play MMORPG out just yet. Why? With the possible exception of RuneScape’s model of one premium version and one free version most of the free MMORPG strategies for making money have not been fully proven over the long term yet. Who knows which of these numerous strategies will succeed and which will fail yet. You may not be investing money but you will still have to invest time in the free games. Do you really want to spend countless hours building up a character only to have that character get wiped when the MMORPG does not make enough money to survive? The most high-profile free MMORPGs will likely survive but most of the me-too games will probably not last too long. In contrast games like the aforementioned Ultima Online and EverQuest have been around for many years and are still going strong. Furthermore blockbuster MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft offer plenty of longevity as well. I don’t think anybody has to worry about World of Warcraft closing its doors any time soon.

World of Warcraft

Not a Simple Choice

Despite the fact that most players would rather not pay a monthly fee if given a choice not all players like free MMORPGs. Whether its inferior graphics poor support lack of updates too much lag too many bugs hackers or not enough players most free MMORPG games do not please gamers that expect a lot from their MMOs. On the other hand free MMOs offer not only an unbeatable price but closer-knit communities and more original game themes. For example MMOs like GunZ Furcadia and OZ all offer original themes that will not likely be duplicated by a major pay-to-play MMORPG.

RuneScape – Most Popular Free MMORPG


All that said you have to choose whether free or pay-to-play is right for you. Basically you need to ask yourself what you look for the most in a MMO. If the answer is just a low price then the choice is obvious for you. In contrast the choice will be very difficult if you are looking for a low price along with originality great graphics good support longevity and a solid community. Take a look at the advantages of each genre against the other and see how they fit what you are looking for to help make your choice. There may be a game or two that is an exception in a certain category like some of the Korean MMORPGs in graphics and Guild Wars being sold via retail but these are general advantages between the two types of MMORPGs.

Pay To Play MMORPGs

? superior graphics
? more support
? more updates
? more servers
? less bugs
? more longevity


? do not have to buy the box
? no subscription fee or offers a free plan
? more original games
? more innovative
? closer communities
? can be more niche since not as mainstream

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  1. Free-to-play MMORPGs are great, if you can only play a few times per week (otherwise, you’re really just wasting a subscription, if you’re playing a few times per week on a pay-to-play MMORPG). But I do agree that pay-to-play games just have better quality, but I think pay-to-play games have a harder time competing because of other MMORPGs dominating the genre (such as World of Warcraft) and as a consequence, there’s just a higher risk of these games closing down their servers. Free-to-play MMORPGs can also face similar issues since there’s an abundance of free-to-play MMORPGs out there, but I feel like with free-to-play MMORPGs, you can make better choices as to which MMORPG you want to play since you can try out a bunch of them.

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