The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG benefits most from its IP?


We have certainly debated the downsides of basing MMOs on established intellectual properties, most namely the danger of having the license pulled and the game shut down on a dime (which, you know, has happened). But there are considerable upsides to an IP-fueled game as well.

After all, popular franchises come with a built-in fanbase looking to play in their fantastic universes, numerous cross-promotional opportunities, and loads of world building from which the developers can draw. Plus, I think about how any time that a big news release, film, or television series comes out in that IP, it ends up sending traffic toward that MMO.

So looking over the roster of IP fueled MMOs, which one do you think benefits the most from its franchise right now? I guess we can’t say “Marvel Heroes” any longer (which is a shame considering a certain big movie coming out this week), so which live game gets the best boost from multimedia developments?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Jeremy Caswell

SWTOR definitely benefited the most, as it poor launch should have killed it. Surprisingly, it is a decent game right now, but it took YEARS to get it to that state. The only thing that ever gets people to look at it to find that out however is the SW IP. However, beyond glowing swords, the long long ago setting makes the IP mostly wasted. No one really plays SWTOR feeling even a little bit connected to the SW universe. It feels more like a decent WoW clone that is far less grindy than the chinese and russian knockoffs, with a strong single player story.

STO makes the best use of its IP. The writing is of similar quality to the shows, and playing the game feels like playing an episode of the show. I am not really a ST fan, but I find that I keep this game loaded on my PC at all times, and that I am quite happy to spend a week or two catching up on episodes… even when I have no real clue what is going on or why we are there. However, it is also a poster child for MMO bloat, with so many systems piled upon expansion systems, many of them obsolete for defunct, that a brand new player would be so utterly lost. It would have already faded to sunset if the shows it were based upon were not still showing, and its fans so rabid.

LOTRO is the MMO most hampered by it’s IP. It opened as a solid MMO by itself, but it kept rubbing MMO fans the wrong way by holding fast to the notions of the story rather than traditional MMOs. Since that opening, the IP has mostly been a straight jacket hampering development far more than it ever helped. LotR likely got a few shots in the arm from each movie release, and it does have an excellent single player story for a while, but it is a story that everyone knows very, very well already. I would say that the IP chokes LOTRO more than any other.

DDO is a curious MMO. One group hoped it would bring D&D to the MMO crowd. Many felt that it brought MMO to the D&D crowd. Neither were happy. In a lot of ways, it seems like little more than a beta test of the engine for the creation of other, better games. The IP gives it virtually nothing, and the MMO is nothing special. It best serves as a cautionary tale of how to screw up at every single thing it tried.

Bree Royce
Bree Royce

This is a super thoughtful post. Have a feature! :D

Mikka Hansen

Noone would poke a stick at SWTOR if not for the IP



Game was garbage at launch and they never even made any attempt to improve the gameplay, instead they just wrote off 90% of the population and doubled down on story telling. If it wasn’t Star Wars, it would have been shut down within a year (as it was, EA considered shutting it down after 6 months due to dismal financial start).

So, I think SWTOR owes the overwhelming majority of it’s lifespan to the IP.

LotRO definitely benefits from the IP, but it was a superior themepark compared to most of it’s competitors for a long time. The story was better, the mechanics much deeper and engaging and it had a ton of social features that meant the community was (and is….) much better than everything else. It was only when it reached Rohan that the development quality dropped dramatically (though mirkwood was a bit of a write-off), since then it’s definitely been living off the IP.

So, LotRO may have spent the last 5 years or so living off it’s IP, but even without the IP I think it would have done pretty well for the first few years.

Demon of Razgriz
Demon of Razgriz

Never played any of the Star Wars or Lord of The Rings or Final Fantasy PC games. But, having played DCUO, Star Trek Online, Marvel Heroes, etc., I think the winner for me would be Star Trek. The ground combat is nonexistent and unfulfilling. The space combat, although enjoyable, is not enough. Plus, once you hit the level cap, there’s not much left to do. As a stand-alone game, without the ST lore and fan base, it would’ve died a long time ago. They could do so much more with the IP. At least that’s my opinion anyway.

Jamie Little

If only mechwarrior had an mmo

Fervor Bliss

Final Fantasy franchise would be my choice.
If Harry Potter game has a successful launch that would be my choice, but that has not happened yet. (Don’t remember where I heard it but the story of the Harry Potter theme park was cool)


SWTOR is the top one that comes to mind. I’m sure LOTRO and STO do as well, but I can’t envision a game with with SWTOR mechanics without the IP and I could see LOTRO or STO as generic space or syfy games.

Vincent Clark

LOTRO, hands down. Without it, that game would have shut down years ago. I’d argue SWTOR is a close second.

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Peregrine Falcon

I think that neither SWTOR nor STO would have lasted 6 months after launch without their respective IPs. Both of those games have so many issues.

Despite having a lifetime sub, and a life-long love of Star Trek, I haven’t logged on to STO in over 5 years. Still waiting for EXPLORATION content. You know, that whole thing the actual IP is all about.

SWTOR has good stories at least. So about every 6 months or so I patch up, roll up another Sith Juggernaut, say hello again to Vette, and start the long slog up to whatever the new max level is. I seldom make it much past 45 or so before I finally get tired of dealing with the dumb gameplay mechanics.


Contrary to what Gene Roddenberry liked to claim about Star Trek (and he claimed a LOT) – it honestly wasn’t really about exploration….the ‘exploration’ reason might explain WHY they was at ‘Location X’ in space; but 9.9 times out of 10, after that bit of Captain’s Log dialogue, the ‘plot complication’ (which the episode would REALLY be about for the next 50 to 42 minutes – depending if it was TOS era or TNG era) which would comprise the rest of the episode would appear.

As to the article’s question: ANY MMO based on an IP with a large fanbase (LoTRO, SWToR, STO, D&DO, etc.) is going to have a big advantage.

However as SWToR proved (by going from around 200 servers to 5); if you don’t follow up on your big promises and put out rehashed and bug ridden crap, and engage in overly blatant money grabs and treat your playing playerbase as if they’re ALL idiots; even being based on a major IP won’t save your game.


If we dont count only TV based or not self owned IPs, Final Fantasy XIV I guess. It banks a lot on the existing final fantasy playerbase and while being fairly good its being presented as far better than it really is to my personal opinion. So it wins in terms of sheer profit it wouldnt had made otherwise.

But if we dont count game-born IPs then after getting a second thought maybe I should vote any that would stop or almost stop existing if it wasnt for the IP – in which case I think both conan games – one would be one shut down(AoC) and anothe rin early maintainance(Conan Exiles). And staying alive or even thriving in case of exiles is a major benefit

STO uses its IP pretty well for the most part and makes ships/storylines/queues based of it but then again if I think the same game without star trek and having ships, storylines, queues the way it does it would still do well. Either way I consider it a medium population game and as such I dont think it has the income of a lot major games that benefit from their IP – I am just mentioning since you used the picture from there.

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Jack Pipsam

I suppose The Old Republic will always have a degree of interest simply because of being Star Wars.