Perfect Ten: Ten MMOs still going after ten years

It struck me, very recently, that a decade is a long time for MMOs.

If we're going to count Ultima Online as the first proper MMO as we think of them - and I am - we're almost 18 years out. Most games have not seen all of those years, and I'm not just talking about the games that launched more recently. It's rare to find a game that's been going for a decade, and even rarer to find one that's been going for a decade and is still getting updates rather than just being stuck in maintenance mode.

So here's a Perfect Ten celebrating 10 titles that have made it past that mark, even if they've just squeaked over the border. Sure, they're no longer the fresh-faced darlings of the industry, but when you look at all of the great titles that have either shut down or slipped into quiet maintenance over the years, "still going" is often a pretty huge boost by itself.

1. Ultima Online

Full confession: I have never once played Ultima Online, and I have about as much desire to do so as I have to run my face over a belt sander. But I am going to be miserable if this title ever closes down. We're talking listening to sad music on repeat, sobbing, pouring out 40s on the street corner miserable. Why? Because it's the gold standard. It's the first title that kicked all of this off, and in three years it'll be old enough to legally drink. And it's still getting updates and humming along. There's even another expansion on the way.

Others have opined with more eloquence than I that the move over to Broadsword Online has been a boon for the game; I'm inclined to agree. Certainly it doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and it's good to see the game in the hands of people with a genuine passion for keeping it moving.

Burning goodwill, if you want.2. World of Warcraft

All right, so it's not exactly a surprise that WoW is still running and getting active updates, but it's a bit telling that it's been casting a long shadow for more than a decade now. Whether or not it's maintained the same level of quality for that entire decade is a debate that I'm sure people will eagerly leap into down in the comments, especially after yesterday's revelation that three million people stopped subbing in the last quarter, and for that I wish you good fortune.

The funny part is that very little of that original game is still present. Cataclysm revamped such a large portion of the title that the fields you walked in when the game first launched are likely forever changed. Still, you could well be playing the same character you made on launch day, and even if you're not playing that one, it's probably still on your old server. You know how it is.

3. MapleStory

We never really think about MapleStory, do we? It always seems to be that game that we know must have a bunch of players, and it's been running for a decade now, but do you actually know anyone who plays it? Yet it's obviously been doing something right to keep running this long. And hey, more power to it. There's even a sequel in the works, although that seems to not have the whole side-scrolling platform aspect to it.

4. EverQuest and EverQuest II

Hard to believe that these titles are both past the 10-year mark, isn't it? It feels like there's more time between them, but both came out closer to the release of Ultima Online than to the present day. They're both deploying content a bit differently now, compared to the long-running tradition of frequent and meaty expansions, but they're both still going strong.

And speaking of EverQuest and games that were very clearly influenced by it...

Looking nowhere now, huh?5. Final Fantasy XI

I freely admit that I'm cheating a little bit with this one. Yes, Final Fantasy XI is not currently in any form of maintenance mode, but that's not going to be the case for much longer. But as of this writing, it's still updating, and it's crafting a big story sendoff before it slips into maintenance mode. Not to mention that it did all of this while supporting itself on multiple consoles.

Even after the game has finished with its major content updates, there are still plans to develop a mobile client for the game as well as a single-player spinoff that's currently slated for release in Japan only. So while the game itself is going to be going dark-ish, it's going to be one of the most active maintenance modes I've heard of.

6. EVE Online

I've joked that this game is a sequel to Microsoft Excel, but it's a jest made in good spirits. EVE Online is a game that knows its audience and how it works, and it's kept up a fairly steady stream of content and systems to cater to exactly that. Assuming you ignore experiments like DUST 514 that didn't exactly pan out in the long run, but we just won't mention that.

Again, that is.

7. RuneScape

Not only has RuneScape kept going strong, but it's done a fairly good job of both changing over time and providing players who preferred its older versions a sandbox to play in in the form of its old-school servers. Points for that. Jagex knows how to keep its fans happy... on this title, anyway. (Would-be fans of Transformers Universe are the opposite of happy.)

8. Anarchy Online

There was a time a little over 10 years ago when Anarchy Online was basically the punchline to any joke about horrible launches that no game could ever recover from. It's still that punchline, even now, when it's long since patched up those issues and outlasted several games that postdated it. You can argue that the game never got quite as big as it would have gotten had it not suffered through such awful launch troubles, but it managed to do all right for itself in the long run.

I know it's unfair, still there.9. Lineage II

This entry inspires a bit of resentment that I realize is entirely unreasonable because Lineage II has passed the decade mark when City of Heroes never got the chance. And since both of them are tied to NCsoft, well, there's my dose of silly bitterness that I am aware is based on absolutely nothing.

Seriously, I am certain that there was not some sort of face-off wherein executives were picking between the games when deciding who would live and who would die, but I can't help but feel that an innovative and engrossing superhero MMO wins out pretty decisively next to a game that wants to be an open PvP game and then sort of backs off after the fact. Not to mention that the game's lore always struck me as kind of overwrought and complex for its own sake, and...

All right, all right, that's enough bitterness. Also, the game did claim to remove its level cap altogether with the last patch, so that's pretty cool.

10. Dark Age of Camelot

I sometimes feel as if Dark Age of Camelot gets overlooked for what it did. Sure, it's getting on in years, but this is the game that really put the idea of factional conflicts on the map. Its use of three factions has basically gone unmirrored by the majority of games that offer some kind of factional PvP, and a lot of the central mechanics just sort of get... lost. Which is a real shame. What's not a shame is that the game has passed the decade mark, and while the first attempt at a spiritual sequel with Warhammer Online didn't pan out, Camelot Unchained seems to be doing all right for itself.

It's not quite my cup of tea. But just like everything else on this list, it's had a good run, and I hope it continues to have one.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line "Perfect Ten."
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52 Comments on "Perfect Ten: Ten MMOs still going after ten years"

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Deathage
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Deathage

Lets add in a #11 for Tibia

Nuzan
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Nuzan

Just stumbled over this article while having my weekend morning coffee. 
Somehow I love old mmos more than new ones.More interesting game mechanics there.

I'm ok with the list so far, but it should have been 'Perfect 20' this time.
My personal favorite is Ryzom, launched few weeks before WoW, 
an extraordinary gamedesign, paradise for crafters and very dedicated community.

Krevra
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Krevra

Ventreel Was hoping for GW1 as well, great game even today!

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Werewolf Finds Dragon I think TSW has plans set up for the next couple years, but I THINK there was only big plans about about '3 Acts' (could be wrong!) of the story, and we just finished the 1st Act, so there's obviously a limited about of time before they run out of the main stuff and go more into maintenance. And this doesn't even get into Funcom nonsense happening. Of course, personally, I'd love to see the major story arcs almost completely finalized (Act 1 has now done that to an extent with Orochi matters, for example) and ideally, the game to somehow be emulated/given away for people to be able to host their own servers.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Gavaevodata Mabinogi was one of those MMORPGs that I kept trying and wanting to like, especially when I was in my teens, but it never, ever happened.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

I expect many of these to last another 5 years, maybe 10. At the same time, I think this decade (next 5 years but maybe you could count beyond that) will mark the end of the 'traditional' MMO (or at least the WoW-ish MMO) and a continuing into the trend of MMOBAs or just MOBAs, and then the possible growth of VR MMOs, which COULD, at least in time, lead to the evolution of the current MMORPG and into a far more immersive (at least in ways) experience along with RPGs as a whole. 

Basically, get your use of these games now because they're now clearly on their way out, as a more advanced evolution makes its debut and prominence. For example, I certainly expect more expansions to WoW, but they'll be more and more sparse of significant changes/improvements and will trend more and more to facilitating and eventually implementing some form of F2P/B2P, maybe this decade.

Amazing that we're heading into a world with active MMOs being 15-20 years old though. Personally, I'd love for my main game Rift (now 4 years old) to last another several years, getting through the other 5 Planes and even some other realms beyond that.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Ekphrasis I think it depends a lot on what the company has in the wings.  Square-Enix is moving Final Fantasy XI into maintenance only now, when it seems pretty clear that Final Fantasy XIV is a success and can keep humming along nicely for some time.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

agemyth Ventreel Bingo.  I love the original Guild Wars; alas, it's in maintenance mode.

agemyth
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agemyth

Ventreel Eliot seemed to be trying to avoid titles in "maintenance mode" like Guild Wars 1. FF11 only barely made it on the list as its new content development seems to be ending this year.

Ventreel
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Ventreel

It's sad there is no GW1 mentioned as it legitimately is 10 years old now. I know it's not dubbed as mmo but to me it's more mmo than lot other games that want to be called that name. Should at least mention it in the postscriptum.

cald
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cald

Goronmon Played at launch and yes it had issues but it was worth playing even back then.. was great fun I just wish they would sort out the engine upgrade and i will give it another go..

cald
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cald

Styopa I always wanted to get into this but everytime i fired it up.. it just lacked something for me.. i guess the combination of bad graphics, dodgy ui and stuff just got to me.

Gavaevodata
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Gavaevodata

Mabinogi has been running over 10 years since its launch overseas.

MewmewGirl
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MewmewGirl

Nexus, Kingdom of the Winds - this one seems to have been out in the US 17 or 18 years now, never having shut down or needing a re-birth.

http://www.nexustk.com/index.html

They run another game too, Dark Ages (original, not Dark Age of Camelot) that has been out 16 years.

http://www.darkages.com/

I've tried both of them and while there is some fun to be had there, they definitely absolutely show their age.

Fun fact, those games were created by a very young newly formed Nexon.

MatthewSheffer
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MatthewSheffer

Why does Istaria Chronicles of the gifted always get left off of lists like these .... ITs 12 yrs and still receiving regular updates just like if not better than a lot of other games.  And if they were to do a remake and do it like they said they would  do originally I believe they would recapture a lot of hearts.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

My top MMO would be Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.
It didn't have the weight of the extroverted masses behind it, it didn't have excessive publisher support because of that, but it hung in there. It was the plucky little upstart that aimed its sights at higher functioning introverted players who would rather explore, read, and solve puzzles than be murderhobos. It was an impossible thing.
And it kept fighting! It didn't give up. It revived itself time and time again -- and even now, today, you can head to mystonline.com, download it and play it for free. It's been fighting the good fight to stay operational since its initial bumpy launch in '03.
It's easy to understand why the games in this top ten exist, isn't it? They do have the support of the extroverted masses, and some of them use exploitation to addict people. What's more impressive is a game that, without manipulation, without pandering to more mundane minds, managed to stand the test of time and still exists today.
Now that's something. I don't know if even TSW will be around in ten years, but Uru will. Uru will because Cyan Worlds are just that passionate about it. If we saw that kind of passion in MMO development more often? Well, video gaming would be a happier, better place for all of us. That's the kind of golden standard that we should embrace, so much more than multi-billion dollar efforts who have it so much easier.
And Uru is still the only online game I revisit once a year. Nothing will ever be more memorable to me than that.

rlloyd3
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rlloyd3

bryanjturner As a little background, WoW had been my MMO of choice ever since CoH shutdown; I has tried others, but nothing could hold me for more than a day or two. I tried ESO during beta and found it to be hot garbage; I came back for the free weekend two weeks ago, bout it as soon as the free weekend ended, and haven't touched WoW (or any other MMO) since. Hope you enjoy your experience as much as I have.

bryanjturner
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bryanjturner

I just bought ESO today through steam, hoping it's done down loading by the time I get home from work this morning; hope it was worth $60.

SneakySmirk
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SneakySmirk

kofteburger SneakySmirk lanzceseirra The official version isn't as well received as private ones.

rlloyd3
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rlloyd3

bryanjturner ESO also has 3 faction conflict.

kofteburger
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kofteburger
Ekphrasis
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Ekphrasis

I can understand why NCSOFT might have closed CoH but a skeleton crew with maintenance mode approach would have been far better than a shut down.
Although i suppose that's easy to say in hindsight - there'd probably have been a community uproar about maintenance mode at the time - but it still would have been the better outcome for everyone.
Great to see so many of these games so kicking along though. As more MMOs age, I wonder what treatment they will receive.
- Outright closure
- Supported maintenance mode
- Source code release to community

Satanixx
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Satanixx

Eliot_Lefebvre Satanixx Yeah, just wished more companies would have done the same thing Turbine did.

Woulda be nice to have CoH, SWG, Vanguard, and Shadowbane still running even if its only maintenance mode.

haggus71
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haggus71

Styopa Yeah, all I have to say to that is...

I WILL TAXI TO VICTORY!

SeanNeubert
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SeanNeubert

Ben Pielstick Wow, I was just looking for this game the other day. Subspace was amazing!

SeanNeubert
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SeanNeubert

haggus71 Sazri Plus the original GW fell into that time before we called anything with an online mode an MMO :)

haggus71
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haggus71

Sazri He said games getting updates, not games in maintenance mode.

jonny_sage
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jonny_sage

<obligatory comment about DUST not being made for PC>

Sazri
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Sazri

Where's Guild Wars? They just hit ten years!

SneakySmirk
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SneakySmirk

lanzceseirra I'm guessing you're talking about the private server versions.

CistaCista
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CistaCista

Asheron's Call!

Tierless
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Tierless

You forgot SWG ;)

Ben Pielstick
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Ben Pielstick

Before UO there was Subspace, and there still is.  Subspace forever <3.

http://www.subspace-continuum.com/

Styopa
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Styopa

World War 2 Online aka Battleground Europe
http://www.battlegroundeurope.net/indiegogo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogEjCZn8mHY

Since 6/6/01.
Destroyed my interest in PVP in any other game, because this is pure skill.  The learning curve is hard not because the game is hard to play, but because combat is realistically, brutally lethal (no healing pots here, sir) and that's simply how realism works.

Darthbawl
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Darthbawl

Istaria (formerly Horizons) came out in 2003, so it could make the list. :D  Oh yeah, dragons!  I don't play the game anymore, did when it came out.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

mbbrazen I doubt we will ever see "twinking" as it is in AO in any other game. It is an entirely different meaning to that word in AO than how people use it in other games, where the only requirement to equip an item is a simple level lock. Twinking in AO is a mini-game all to itself, that can spend an almost unlimited amount of time and effort on, leading to really strange and wonderful character setups, far beyond what you can achieve in any other game I have seen, especially at low levels. It's hard to tell sometimes where the line is between "complex" and "batshit crazy" in the game's itemization, skill system, and even class design. But it sure can be fun, if it's what you're into.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre
Azzura
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Azzura

Wish City of Heroes was on that list!

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Satanixx Yeah, AC/AC2 are noble and notable, and if I had written this a couple of years earlier I would have loved to have the former in here.  Bully for them for still running, but maintenance mode is maintenance.

SRO7
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SRO7

It's not available in English anymore, but Lineage 1 is over 15 years and still going strong in Asia.

Chaz_Lawler
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Chaz_Lawler

Hmm...

Belt Sander Online:  We're not in shop class any more...

Actually played and have fond memories of UO, EQ (well, memories), DAoC, AO, WoW.  Play other things these days, but those were some good times.

I'm more impressed that "I'm" still online 10 years on!  :p

Gangrel
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Gangrel

bryanjturner From what I am aware of, Mercedes Lackey aka Victoria Victrix (who was in relatively constant communication with CoX dev's) said that at the time of CoX closure, there was a player base of 100,000.
40,000 were Truely Free 2 Play,
20,000 were Premium status,
40,000 were subscribers.
This was confirmed a few times by others who were dealing with the Task Force Hail Mary.

Deathage
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Deathage

Wheres the Tibia love? Came out same year as Ultima online, still has over 10k players online at any given time

Satanixx
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Satanixx

Asheron's Call is in maintenance mode but its $10 B2P and comes with AC2 included.

There are a bunch of people on Frostfell that play everyday.

CthulhuDawg
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CthulhuDawg

Great write up, made me smile on a couple of occasions.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

mbbrazen Goronmon Was my first MMO as well - back in 2004 I think.  I loved the game dearly and I still compare the depth and flexibility from AO to today's games (albeit with some rose color glasses).  The game took 3rd party applications, spreadsheets and all kinds of other craziness to understand all the systems, but I ate it up.  I played for 3 years (Clans-side) and I'm pretty sure my org is still around, though not nearly as big as it once was.  
and don't forget the chatbots that added in the login/logoff messages, item searching, and all kinds of other great stuff.... haha

mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

Goronmon  AO has a steady and loyal fan base that logs into the game every day. You do need to know how to work a spreadsheet to play it effectively (many engineers, accountants and coders in that crowd). This was my first MMO and even though I joined way after the conversion to f2p, I never had trouble finding someone to play with or an organization (their guild equivalent) to join. Players do complain about the dated engine, but I enjoyed the more simple graphics style. You can  play the game well on an older rig. and since I am usually blinded by flashy animations in combat, I really loved the absence of the flash in AO. The game definitely has its fun moments even if it is a massive grind to get to the top rank.

AilsaN10
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AilsaN10

None of those games really "mirror" DAoC's three faction conflict for one very important reason: all the factions are carbon copies of each other. Sure, in the case of TSW, you might have different people using different builds. But those builds are possible in all three factions. Each side in GW2 is a shard made up of the same races with the same abilities as ever other shard. I don't know about Rift Conquests, but the two factions you can choose to play both have the same archetypes to choose from. No one has so far tried to emulate DAoC's three distinct factions with no carbon copy races/classes.

bryanjturner
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bryanjturner

@eliot-lefebvre,
The reason why CoH was shut down as opposed to L2 might have to do with the fact that L2s player base numbers in the millions, while I believe CoH player base at the time of shut down was under half a million.
I can think of 3 examples of games that employ 3 faction conflict.
Rift Conquests
TSW just in general
GW2 WvW

dellis78741
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dellis78741

Goronmon It's been a solid game for years - took them about 6 months to iron out the launch issues.  Still one of the more deep and complex MMO's around and doesn't quite fit in either the Sandbox or Themepark model but is it's own little hybrid.

wpDiscuz