The Game Archaeologist: Eight launch trailers from classic MMOs


When YouTube first became a thing, I dismissed it as a site that was mostly preoccupied with people talking into cameras in an attempt to stoke the fires of their narcissism. And while that certainly still exists, I’ve gradually come around to the sheer usefulness of this video sharing site, particularly for its purpose in archiving historical videos.

And by “historical videos” I mean “game trailers from about 20 years ago that have me wasting hours of my life watching and going, ‘Oh man, I remember that!'” So what does one do when one has blown three hours flipping through MMORPG launch trailers? One justifies that time by organizing some of these into a column. If I’m going to get sucked down into that YouTube rabbit hole, you’re coming with me!


Dang, talk about old! What I love about this trailer is how young and innocent it is, showing the wonders of running around in blocky 3-D environments and announcing that you can “make friends with over 1,000 players.” I still have 937 more to go.

Ultima Online

Another thing that gamers used to be a lot more entranced by were expensive CGI trailers that were populated with slow-moving plastic people, ponderous narration, and blaring synth. Frankly, we need a return to that era.

Asheron’s Call

Actually, this trailer still holds up surprisingly well, if you can get past the chunkier-than-beef stew graphics. Great music, a nice montage of in-game activities, and even a funny moment or two. It actually makes me regret never playing this back when it launched.

Star Wars Galaxies

Will anything beat that music? Gives me chills, every time. Too bad we never talk about this game anymore on the site. Someone should get on top of that.

Dark Age of Camelot

Solid trailer overall, although it does get bogged down in trying to show off all of the races and classes — something that could take hours, considering how expansive this MMO is. 10/10 would level again.

Anarchy Online

I’m weirdly a sucker for trailers that slap quotes about how awesome the game is while showing you how awesome the game is. Maybe I need the double assurance that I’m making a good choice in playing it.

Earth & Beyond

Got to say, this is one terrific trailer. I love how the EA logo goes into the turbine of a spaceship that catapults us across the galaxy. Lots of great movement and vistas here — it would totally make me want to play this game.

Final Fantasy XI

The narration doesn’t quite gel here, making this trailer sound likeĀ an instructional video for Windows ME instead of selling fans on the first online version of one of the biggest fantasy RPG franchises of all time.

Believe it or not, MMOs did exist prior to World of Warcraft! Every two weeks, The Game Archaeologist looks back at classic online games and their history to learn a thing or two about where the industry came from… and where it might be heading.

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