What’s the biggest MMO in the world? That’s OK – this video doesn’t know either


Redditor u/SanctuaryZ attracted attention on several gaming subs this week for his visualization video attempting to track the most popular MMORPGs ever from the beginning to now. Oh heck yeah, data porn.

Buuuuut before you click, you need to know that the visualization appears to rely almost entirely on the old MMO Data and MMO Population websites, whose sourcing and methodology have always been problematic (in some cases by their own admission, since these numbers are hard to come by). Gamers have flocked to the thread and video comments to point out possible problems in the data as well; you’ll notice issues like the still-immensely-popular Lineage franchise drifting away from the top even as it makes more money than god, multiple games huge in Asia simply missing altogether, the presence of games like Star Citizen, and the inclusion of WoW twice (even Blizzard refuses to give separate numbers). Heck, the MMORPG subreddit flat-out deleted it for spamming. Hah!

“It’s like watching a slow-motion ‘Here Is How To Do Data Wrong’,” MOP’s Eliot quipped.

Even knowing all that, it’s fun to watch the games come and go from the list, even if you know the accuracy is questionable. Don’t go quoting this one as settled fact, is what we’re saying, but enjoy it for the walk down memory lane.

Source: Reddit

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by reputation or numbers?

Im willing to bet that if you stopped and asked people on the street if they had ever heard of specific mmo names, the one that would be recognized most, is WoW… regardless of current player count

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Bruno Brito

It’s WoW, it’ll always be WoW. I won’t even watch the “data done wrong” video but it’s WoW.

Spoilers: In this industry where everything revolved around WoW for almost 10 years, the biggest MMORPG. Is. WoW.

Sorry if that was a surprise.


Not so much anymore though, I don’t play FF14 but I imagine WoW and FF14’s populations are comparable with ESO being thrown in there to tip the balance back and forth as a strong third party candidate.


It is WoW though. I have no idea what the current player base is for either game, but if you ask or talk to people about MMO’s who are outside of the genre, they won’t likely know what FF14 is or means. But if you talk about WoW, they’ve more than likely heard of it and know what you mean.

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Unfortunately, it might not be that simple. I don’t believe WoW is as big by population or revenue as Zhengtu Online or Fantasy Westward Journey in the Chinese market. Dungeon Fighter Online was up there with Counter Strike in the internet cafe scene in China and Korea, and now that they’ve released android versions, has broken the home computer barrier in China and is absolutely huge (I’m personally looking forward to Project BBQ from Neople!). If we’re broadly talking MMOs and not strictly MMO-RPGs, then Pokemon Go could count, in which case even international brand recognition might not be in WoW’s favor.

For my money, I think WoW is a better game than the other’s I’ve mentioned, and I know its huge in the West. Having played WoW on Taiwanese servers through MoP and WoD, though….it felt like a much smaller game than other MMOs. Taiwan’s WoW community felt like a niche community that appreciated the AAA western MMO for its business model options and remarkable production values (in Taiwan, you can pay per minute played OR pay a sub. If you just want to log in once a month towards the end of the expansion for guild events, it is far cheaper to pay for time and use your minutes. WoW didn’t force you to pay real money to unlock your loot drops, or use lootboxes or mechanics like permanently losing progress on death to encourage whales to pay more. Zhengtu Online’s stories of players paying 5000 dollars worth of purchasing power to gear a level 150, only to be one-shot by a level 170 paying 4 times as much and lose everything due to full loot options and a territory system that encouraged players to murder each other, coupled with the removal of all in-game loot at one point to force players to source loot from whales that could support their friends within their territories, was really egregious. It was a status symbol for Chinese billionaires to own digital territory and support online followers, instead of focusing on being a game, like Dungeon Fighter or WoW.).


Was an interesting video, but I agree with Elliot, its watching data done wrong.

At first I thought it was registered accounts. But many of the games dropped their numbers very rapidly, so it can’t be that.

Then I thought it might be active monthly users. But, if so, the data for SWTOR is waaaayy off and I cant believe that there are 40 million people actively playing WoW right now.

So, I don’t really have a clue what this data is attempting to show.

Bryan Correll

I’m pretty sure the most popular MMO is:

Raid: Shadow Legends!

Not an MMO you say? Of course it is! It’s online and lots of people allegedly play it (or at least advertise it.) It’s turn based yet action packed! Challenging yet easy enough to have an auto-play mode! It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping! It tucks your children in at night and assures them it has slain all the monsters that were under the bed, in the closet, and lurking in the pipes beneath the toilet!

It’s……………….Raid: Shadow Legends!

Oh what a wonderful time in which we live to be able to have something so incredible!

Disclaimer: This poster has not actually played Raid: Shadow Legends, but was given a Klondike Bar to promote it.

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Loved the Everquest and Everquest II ride on the timeline.

Henrik Boriths

Interesting but I know for a fact that the numbers are wrong for some games because the NCsoft financial report from both 2018 and 2019 had lineage 1 at over 800,000 players. But all in all Ill say it might be pretty accurate

Interresting either way.