One of the reasons that I have been a huge fan of MMORPGs for nearly two decades now is that they offer a terrific bang for your buck. I recall days of regularly spending $60 every week for a new computer game to fill up some free time. But ever since I got into MMOs, I found myself awash in a sea of free and affordable content that lasted for hundreds if not thousands of hours. That doesn’t stop me from looking for a good deal even now!
So for frugal players like me, we here at Massively OP would like to point you toward 10 or so MMOs that are light on your wallet and heavy on delivery of fun and adventures. For this list, we looked at established titles that have at least one aspect that makes the value worth checking out.
Flexible Payment Options: Elder Scrolls Online
Patient bargain hunters should not have a problem snagging Elder Scrolls Online’s base game for a low price these days — and they should, too, because you get a huge amount of content included with it. Past that, you can elect to either purchase content (DLC zones and expansions) piecemeal or subscribe to unlock all DLC zones and get a premium currency allowance. This allowance can then be used to permanently unlock DLC and expansions if you choose to drop the sub at a future point.
A More Free Middle-earth: Lord of the Rings Online
LOTRO was one of the first free-to-play converts on the scene but has come under criticism for being too stingy with the “free” in recent years. This has changed lately, as Standing Stone Games has run two huge content giveaways (which included deep discounts on expansions): one in 2020 and one in 2021. There’s a good reason to expect that the studio will do so again in the future — or make the content unlocks permanent.
All Expansions Included: Star Trek Online
If you hate getting into an MMO for free and then finding out a hundred hours later that you’ve hit a content pay wall, then you’re going to love Star Trek Online. For a long while now, Cryptic’s made all of the story content of the game completely free as a matter of course — and yes, that includes both smaller DLC and the bigger expansions.
Small Investment for Maximum Value: Guild Wars 2
For starters, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading Guild Wars 2 today and enjoying the heck out of the free base game. ArenaNet has also routinely made its Living World chapters free for players who log in during certain time periods, which nets you even more content. But if you want to push past this and into the expansions, you won’t be mortgaging your house; Guild Wars 2 bundles its expansions together and frequently puts them on sale.
Strong Subscription Value: Final Fantasy XIV
There are plenty of cases to be made for why it’s still a great idea to subscribe to MMORPGs. Final Fantasy XIV will let you play for free through the first expansion, but a sub is needed past that point. Fortunately, a single character account is under the $15 industry standard and often cited as a great option for your dollars.
Two MMOs for the Price of One: World of Warcraft and RuneScape
If you like getting two for the price of one subscription, World of Warcraft has a lot to offer for its single monthly fee. Retail servers give you access to every expansion save the newest one (Shadowlands), and your sub also covers WoW Classic Era and Burning Crusade Classic server rulesets as well.
Cheap Family Package: Wizard101
Wizard101 has one of the most family-friendly subscriptions out there. Families are given a discounted rate of $7 per person with the ability to link accounts into a family group. It’s three bucks cheaper than a normal membership, and that’s a good deal in my book.
Low Barrier to Entry: Neverwinter
Year after year, Neverwinter continues to be an MMO that earns a spot on this list for the sheer amount of accessible content right out of the gate. There are no classes locked, no significant restrictions imposed. Just… get in and play! Of course, being a Cryptic game, there’s the pressure later to buy rather than earn certain powerful upgrades, but that’s a problem for another level.
Loads of Content If You Can Put Up With Restrictions: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Yeah, I know that SWTOR has some of the more annoying restrictions and nickel-and-diming tactics, but I’m putting it on this list for two reasons. First, there’s still a massive amount of content you get for zero dollars right from the start — up through the first two expansions, as a matter of fact. And second, if you subscribe for even a single month, you unlock every expansion that’s currently in the game for good.
Value That Keeps Adding Up: No Man’s Sky
We’re not quite sure how this studio continues to make money when it keeps pumping out massive content updates for No Man’s Sky, but from a consumer’s perspective, we’re not complaining! To date, the title has received something like 17 major updates, adding content like housing, new biomes, and expanded multiplayer.