Perfect Ten: MMOs you forgot existed (but are still running)

No MMO can be in the spotlight eternally. Even some of the biggest names out there — your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, your Star Stables — wax and wane in the amount of press and attention they get depending on what they’re doing and how well their PR department is functioning.

It doesn’t take much for a title to fall off of practically everyone’s radar. In some cases it’s merely a matter of passing time and slipping popularity, but in others it’s just that the game or its marketing team hasn’t done anything of note in a long, long time. So that’s when you get MMOs that, when mentioned, cause the listener to cock an eyebrow and say, “Huh. That’s still around?”

Today we’re going to look at 10 such titles — not to demean them or laugh at some misfortune but to call attention to MMOs that are still humming along even though they’re not headlining news or ripping up Steam charts.

1. Fallen Earth

This one actually pains me to put on this list because I had such a gamer crush on Fallen Earth for a couple of glorious years. It wasn’t quite the Fallout Online I always wanted, but it was close, with a wide-open wasteland perfect for exploring and scavenging. While it did manage to stay alive by going free-to-play with GamersFirst, it hasn’t thrived. Probably not the best sign that the latest dev post on the official website is from March 2015 (they apparently do most of their communication on Facebook).

2. Asheron’s Call 2

Some days I think I’m the only one on this planet who got excited about Turbine bringing Asheron’s Call 2 back, and that includes the studio itself. Granted, AC2 was never going to rake in the bucks, but it was cool to see a revival of sorts.

But when you factor in Turbine’s less-than-stellar year, the fact that AC2 is less popular than the already tiny Asheron’s Call, and two recent months when players weren’t able to create new accounts, I’m going to say that it’s a miracle that AC2 is running period and we should be grateful for its continued existence.

3. The Realm Online

One of the very first graphical (albeit 2-D) MMOs, The Realm Online has been trucking along in under various companies since its debut in the mid-1990s. That’s an amazingly long run for a title that most don’t even know about, and those who used to play it have since moved on to more modern games.

It’s really hard to get a read on what’s happening with this game. The official website mentions an end-of-summer 2014 event and its Twitter account is perhaps the saddest thing ever. However, one Redditor mentioned a month ago that there were still around 65 people playing concurrently, so I’m going out on a limb to say that it’s still in operation (even if in stealth mode).

4. Myst Online: Uru Live

I think most MMO players are at least aware that this game existed at some point, although that awareness doesn’t extend to what the game is, personal experience with it, or knowledge of its current status. Well, in 2010 Cyan Worlds brought it back as a free title and allowed players to monkey around with an open sourced version of it as well. It’s definitely still running, as it had server maintenance as recently as October 8th.

5. Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic is probably one of the bigger and more successful titles on this list, but for myriad reasons, it’s really dropped out of sight over the past few years. It initially had a strong start as a free-to-play alternative to World of Warcraft and even gathered a nice following. Heck, Massively-that-was used to have a game column on it.

Now? Well, the game is still developing new content and has a some stuff for 2016 planned, but I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone talk about this game, so I assume that it’s well within the parameters of this article’s subject.

6. PlanetSide

Here’s a fun game to play: Ask yourself, “Is PlanetSide still running?” and then try to answer it. It’s surprisingly difficult to do because while Daybreak didn’t kill the first game when PlanetSide 2 came out, it’s all but erased the first title from existence on the web. Daybreak’s website doesn’t acknowledge it, it’s not part of All Access, and the old PlanetSide site shoves the sequel in your face so hard you’re going to need chap stick. Even the subreddit has merged the two titles together.

So is it dead or alive? The answer is “alive” — at least for now. I was able to find a few comments here and there from people who play it here in 2015, and the PlanetSide Universe fansite has a forum that has people chatting about the game today (although they comment that the servers are pretty quiet).

7. Pirates of the Burning Sea

Speaking of Daybreak, Pirates of the Burning Sea used to part of SOE’s mighty MMO umbrella but was dropped from the studio in 2012 and subsequently taken over by Portalus Games. Maybe that move kept the game alive, but it sure didn’t propel this piratey sandbox to piles of money and players. Pirates of the Burning Sea continues to run today and even added a new ship back in June. So that’s something, right?

8. A Tale in the Desert

Nobody was ever going to accuse A Tale in the Desert of stealing the limelight — it was always a very niche (if fascinating) title — but for a while there the game went deathly quiet as the developer was working on other projects. It had been coasting along in its sixth telling since December 2011 before finally rebooting into Tale 7 this past September. So if you forgot this game was out there, it wasn’t entirely your fault.

9. DUST 514

DUST 514 was a gamble that didn’t quite work for CCP. And by “didn’t quite work,” I mean it cratered so hard that it probably killed off the dinosaurs. Ever since it came out, I got the feeling that CCP really wishes that it had never created the game but is now stuck with the inenviable task of keeping it running for whatever money it can get from it.

I mean, DUST 514 is obviously still around and even putting out the occasional event, but when your developer starts publicly talking about rebooting the whole idea of a tie-in shooter game, then your days as a potential star are officially over.

10. Guild Wars

Before I get pitchforked or whatever angry fan crowds do to smartmouthed journalists, I want to reemphasize that games on this list aren’t here because they’re terrible. Guild Wars had a great run, it really did, and grew a great community for well over a half-decade of operation.

But now the title is suffering from the same superstar sibling effect that PlanetSide is. It’s still running, to be sure, but it’s firmly in maintenance mode while Guild Wars 2 is getting all of the new content, attention, and expansions.

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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Slaphammer
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Slaphammer

I would rank Pirates of the Burning Sea in my top 3 MMO experiences, and yet sadly I said “Oh yeah!” when I saw it on this list. I should really give it another go, just to experience the great PvE storylines, while it’s still possible.

Denngar
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Denngar

Yay for the AC2 header! Haven’t been back in awhile (and mainly just ran around), but it’s good to know it’s online and installed if I want to play. wtb free time >.<

ohforfs
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ohforfs

Siphaed I bought it and then canned it straight away because I couldn’t jump. Just killed the immersion for me.

Quinnocent
Guest
Quinnocent

Planetside 1 is effectively dead.

Many are the shooters with rampant “Hacking is everywhere!” claims.  In almost every case, those complaints boil down to /some/ hacking on a noticeable but controlled scale combined with a great deal of sour grapes exaggeration from people looking to pin their (possibly not the most tact word . . . ) sux on something other than themselves.

Planetside 1 in its present state is one of the unfortunate exceptions to that rule.  The game gathered a hardcore following at launch and soldiered on for as long as it could from there.  Eventually, though, the engine was simply too dated, and support was simply too scant.  It became a known insecure game which attracted a handful of players who didn’t mind killing the already declining game.

Server population now is close to nonexistent.  Certainly too small to give one a meaningful MMOFPS experience.  When you do log on, you often get hunted down by these hacking players.  Your only chance to play Planetside 1 in a genuinely fun way is to gather up a bunch of vets for an event and prearrange for one of the few GM’s to watch over the fight.  Needless to say, that does not a healthy game make.

I love Planetside 2.  I’ve played it from the opening of beta to today.  I loved Planetside 1 too.  Next to Tribes and a few other titles, that game was one of my obsessions in my earlier years.  I played it at launch and for a while after.  I still say that, at its peak during those first few months, Planetside 1 was the best combined arms shooter you’ve ever played.  And this is coming from someone who has participated in and enjoyed solid outfit play in Planetside 2.

But Planetside 1’s time passed a long time ago.  I honestly wish they would just let it die with grace, at this point.

kimowar
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kimowar

Gylnne FeveredDreamer they are both sub free now to whoever had purchased the game, I still log into them here and there.

tominva2012
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tominva2012

Guild Wars 1 remains my all-time favorite online game, but there is a limit to how many times I can play through the same content for a game now in maintenance mode. 
Sadly, no current games even come close to matching GW1’2 epicness (including GW2, I might add). I keep hoping someone somewhere will get the “nostalgia bug” and create a Co-Op game like GW1, but with modern touches and flourishes.

jonny_sage
Guest
jonny_sage

Project54 jonny_sage Giggilybits IF they enjoyed it. But the things that made people quit are the things that havent changed. Better to let it die so we can move on to something better.

pepinocantador
Guest
pepinocantador

Fallen Earth is a ton of fun, actually. The downside is the wasteland is about as populated with other players as Fallout’s is.

AC2 I actually played the beta for, and I’m pretty sure I’ve still got the box for the copy around. There was some stuff I really enjoyed about it like the crafting, but (at least at the time) the whole no NPC thing I knew was going to sink it.

I actually miss the original Planetside, but that might be because it was really easy to be a one man army as a heavy.

Dust 514 I was actually interested in, but… PS3 only? Their entire fan base is playing on computers, and they decide to make the tie in console only, and tied to one console (that is now a generation old at that)? The only thing that would have made it more likely to sink is if one of the developers called it ‘unsinkable’.

Overall, I’m quite surprised to see so many of these kicking… Or even some of the slightly more popular ones, like the original EQ. It doesn’t seem like developers / publishers are shy about swinging the axe sometimes.

Lord Zorvan
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Lord Zorvan

Gylnne BigJohnny1982 coop online rpg

DPandaren
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DPandaren

Xijit Partially also because they were allowed to do whatever with updates, since Microsoft at the time charged developers for updating their game. Which was a means to make sure developers didn’t release a knowingly broken game without fixing it in post. Also they didn’t want to play outside the MS playground. 

BUT, they did have all three platforms playing with each other during their first E3 showing.

DPandaren
Guest
DPandaren

Should be noted that Planetside does not require a subscription to play. It’s completely free! Just need to hunt for a download of the exe on the forums.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

Mind Flayer karmamule LOL

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

paul2724 If you are speaking of Vanguard Saga of Heroes it is currently being worked on as an emu, but will be a few years.:(

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

BigJohnny1982 corpg?

Gylnne
Guest
Gylnne

FeveredDreamer It did but Turbine recently let subscribers of the first one have access to this one also.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

Nice list Justin. And as the comments suggest many more out there.:)

Remianen
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Remianen

No Horizons (now Istaria)? I guess you kinda have to be an OG to remember that game during its run-up, along with the Artifact war (David Allen vs David Bowman). Yes, before he ran into the buzzsaw that is Derek Smart, David Allen had had a previous MMO ripped from his creative grasp.

It’s changed hands more than a couple times but it’s still operating.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

aboomwithaview Most gamers may not know/remember AoC but I think most MMO fans who have been around the last several years remember it.

SwobyJ
Guest
SwobyJ

Fallen Earth – Near Idea. Too dated for me. 
Asheron’s Call 2 – No thanks.
The Realm Online -The what?
Myst Online – I’d try a new game. But not this.
Runes of Magic – LOL NO
Planetside – Never been my thing..
Pirate of the Burning Sea – Barely remember it.
A Tale in the Desert – Nice idea! I remember reading about it several years ago, but I wasn’t in a place to try, and then I was on to other things.
Dust 514 – Still a terrible idea.
Guild Wars – Oh! I have this one I have this one! I may actually try it again sometime. I’d like to at least play much of its story.

Shazanti
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Shazanti

McSleaz jonny_sage As a PC-only player, I was honestly intrigued about Dust before its launch. I thought a console tie-in with a standing MMO was a pretty cool idea. I thought it would be an interesting way to have the two parties (PC/console) ‘work together’ in ways that work properly according to their system. (I’ve never thought throwing PC and console players together in a game would work out very well, but that’s just my opinion/experience.) It was an interesting idea. Bit of a shame it didn’t pan out.

JohnT_NC
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JohnT_NC

FeveredDreamer AC2 DID shut down years ago.  They had a necromancer bring it back.

FeveredDreamer
Guest
FeveredDreamer

O.o well wow, I genuinely thought that AC2 shut down years ago.  As a matter of fact I’d convinced myself that AC2 was the first MMO I ever played that was shut down.

Pandalulz
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Pandalulz

“Some days I think I’m the only one on this planet who got excited about http://massivelyop.com/tag/turbine bringingAsheron’s Call 2 back”

I was totally excited, had to buy a new $9 account and everything since mine has long disappeared into oblivion.  But then I logged in, and realized how long I’ve been wearing those rose-tinted glasses.  The game looked amazing for its time, but now is just janky and weird, with terrible, low frame animations, and everything is super floaty.  It just feels really really bad to play.  I couldn’t do it.  I think I paid to login just to have closure and say my final goodbye.  :P

Pandalulz
Guest
Pandalulz

Day2Dan Xijit Plus it’s only like $20 or something to just BUY all the Hero abilities so you can min-max them all from the start.  I haven’t messed around with it in a long while, but there used to be whole websites devoted to building a solo hero party.

AlexanderDeLarge
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AlexanderDeLarge

Still waiting for Asheron’s Call 3, shame, because that was supposed to be Middle Earth Online until they made it into a generic themepark.

StClair
Guest
StClair

Puzzle Pirates.  Still out there.

ButterPanda888
Guest
ButterPanda888

I haven’t played them in a while, but I used to love Pirates of the Burning Sea and Runes of Magic. They were so much fun for me when I was just starting to explore MMOs. I also like Fallen Earth, but never got very far into it. I’m glad these games are still somewhat alive, even if not by much. Now all I have to do is find some time to break from my current, busy MMO schedule to play these while I still have a chance.

Project54
Guest
Project54

jonny_sage Giggilybits

If a person enjoyed it and had fun ‘nothings changed’ isn’t a bad thing. If you haven’t played for a few years you can enjoy it all over again (do you never replay a single player game?). If you didn’t enjoy it, well don’t play it, but no need to wish death upon it for those who do want to play it!

Project54
Guest
Project54

MostlysaneUK

It saddens me to see this happen to any game. Whatever the initial reason for a game falling off the radar, the consequences always seem to be the same. With it being off the radar, it has a smaller population, which results in publishers no longer investing in it, so it goes into maintenance mode, so it doesn’t get any publicity, so it never gets back on people’s radar, so the population slowly declines, until it’s not even worth running in maintenance mode, which results in it’s eventual death. 

Just once I’d love to see what would happen if they actually invested to fix whatever caused it to fall off people’s radar to begin with and then gave it a fresh round of publicity and content development, but I suppose in reality this never makes financial sense, so we don’t see it.

In a way I’m happy to see Fallen Earth with GamersFirst, while they might not be known for their content development, buying up online games to run in maintenance mode seems to be their modus operandi, and I’d rather a game stays up in maintenance mode than goes offline. If that day comes for Fallen Earth I’ll pretty sad, even if I was burned hard at release with that game (I was naive and got sucked in by all the developer videos about how super awesome it was going to be).

BritoBruno
Guest
BritoBruno

Xijit God, i hope. If you get to the oficial G1C Fallen Earth forums, you get extremely depressed.

BigJohnny1982
Guest
BigJohnny1982

8 titles. Neither dust or guild wars are an mmo. The guild wars Devs have even corrected you guys and said it was a corpg as there is no mmo portion to the game.

teehee2
Guest
teehee2

I still play Myst Online Uru about once a month. love that game.

Tsiya
Guest
Tsiya

AC2 was my very first MMO. Hubby-now got me into the open beta, and lo, an addiction was born. I still play RoM off and on, I don’t quite grasp the item stats thing, but it’s fun to catch eggs.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

Fallen Earth is a game I would have loved to see get $60million in Kickstarter funding.

CastagereShaikura
Guest
CastagereShaikura

VilleUusitalo My first mmo and i just went back to it. I just got sick and tired of the new games with console like play and UI’s. And their crappy communities. Nice to finally say I’M sticking with this one till the end. A small but loyal community is better than a large community filled with kiddies.Its really getting hard for older gamer’s finding like minded players in mmo’s. I’VE never had so much fun running a dungeon with unselfish players.Teaming up in this game is a blast.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

chosenxeno Sorenthaz I always thought some unemployed guy coined that phrase :)

McSleaz
Guest
McSleaz

jonny_sage pretty sure it’s also console only which makes it lolwhocares.

cheesybites76
Guest
cheesybites76

Siphaed It didn’t need jumping, since half of your skill bar wasn’t selected for you by ANet. Lol.

ColdinT
Guest
ColdinT

jonny_sage ApathyCurve I probably would have checked into it if it came out on PC.

jonny_sage
Guest
jonny_sage

Giggilybits Dont bother. Nothings changed. Just let it die.

jonny_sage
Guest
jonny_sage

ApathyCurve If they had put it on PC, at the very least they would have had a loyal following of fans defending it.

jonny_sage
Guest
jonny_sage

Dust is not an MMO.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

GW1 went into maintenance mode at or before launch of GW2 and for reason of putting nearly the entire development staff on the new game instead of the old.  

Also, it didn’t even have jumping!!!!!!!

chosenxeno
Guest
chosenxeno

Sorenthaz No Lie. ROM pretty much coined the phrase “Pay to Win”.

melissaheather
Guest
melissaheather

The Realm was my first online multiplayer game.   It was also my first case of “internet misbehaviour”, when I found I could walk around in my underwear in that game, lol.

Denice J Cook
Guest
Denice J Cook

Nice list, thanks!  I had forgotten about most of these (especially Fallen Earth), and could only think of one other that should have made the list:  Saga of Ryzom.

Bereman99
Guest
Bereman99

Loopstah I was actually in the beta for that. Some really interesting systems and was quite a bit of fun (minus the hand to hand combat system that was…wonky at the best of times). Was also the first time I tried editing together a fan video for when the NDA lifted the December before it launched.

qweazdak
Guest
qweazdak

ill add a game. it might be cheating but theres a community hosted neocron server

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

VilleUusitalo Wratts It is, but it tanked.  CCP is talking about a reboot

DamnDirtyApe
Guest
DamnDirtyApe

Loopstah It was a fun game with a lot of really great ideas.  Also, I really liked the graphics and the music.

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