When it comes to making a judgment call about the “healthiest” MMORPGs on the market at any given time, there are always plenty of rebuttals on hand to denounce such a list. No MMO is in a perfect position with an untouchable record, after all, and there are always fault lines that could end up breaking open and taking down a title.
So why do we put out this list even knowing that it’ll get pushback from some quarters? Simple: We want to help earnest players who are genuinely looking for the most stable MMOs out there. While nothing in this industry is assured, these are the 11 games that MassivelyOP considers to be in a good place with their 2023 development and financials as well as plans for 2024.
World of Warcraft
The once king of the MMORPG landscape isn’t going quietly into that good night. World of Warcraft may have gone through a messy and slightly nutty year in 2023, but overall it was a productive and even encouraging stretch for the MMO. Dragonflight continued to expand its expansion set at a regular pace, Hardcore Classic officially became a thing, and BlizzCon stirred up a lot of interest in this franchise with announcements about the Worldsoul Saga, Cataclysm Classic, and Season of Discovery.
With an expansion coming for both main branches of the MMO in 2024, the Microsoft deal finally concluded, Bobby Kotick on the way out, and Chris Metzen back at the helm, WoW has a lot of promise for the new year.
Final Fantasy XIV
And speaking of promise, Final Fantasy XIV is already flexing for Best Expansion of 2024, if the previews of Dawntrail are any indication. This MMO has long been a beacon for those looking to a stable and dependable MMORPG that hosts a passionate community, engaged development team, and regular content rollouts. But anytime that FFXIV goes into an expansion year, the electricity around this title positively crackles. Square-Enix may be a hot mess these recent years, but FFXIV is almost always a bright spot that can be depended on for performance and profits.
Guild Wars 2
After years of slow and somewhat aimless plodding, Guild Wars 2 got back on track in 2022 and 2023. Hot off the heels of End of Dragons and Secrets of the Obscure, ArenaNet is building momentum and even modest profits for NCsoft. This buy-to-play title has always been exceedingly easy to revisit, and with additional weapon proficiencies, map expansions, and a vast array of possibilities for the future, Guild Wars 2 is a train barreling forward, picking up players left and right.
Elder Scrolls Online
When we think of Elder Scrolls Online, “Old Dependable” is a phrase that comes to mind. Like clockwork, this MMO churns out a meaty update every quarter — with its biggest reserved for a full-fledged expansion in June. ZeniMax showed a willingness in 2023 to shake things up ever-so-slightly with the Endless Archives, but the real strength of ESO is its name recognition, Bethesda backing, and the fact that it’s in no immediate danger of having to compete with a new Elder Scrolls game in 2024.
For an indie PvP MMO, Albion Online’s done exceedingly well for itself and become a poster child of what crowdfunded MMORPG projects should be. It’s crazy to think that it’s already been six years that this title’s been live — and it’s certainly not shrinking or slowing down. If this is anywhere near your wheelhouse, and if you’ve got a thick enough skin to handle a lot of malignant attitudes, then you should be partaking in its intricate world.
DC Universe Online
Like it or not, DCUO is the flagship game in Daybreak’s portfolio and has been for some time. The superhero MMO benefits from high name-brand recognition and a lack of strong competition. It’s been getting pretty hefty updates all year long and looks to jump to the latest console generation in 2024. And with the DC movies hoping to reboot and refocus under new leadership, the MMO could benefit from that as well.
If MMORPGs were stocks and you wanted to create the most stable, predictable, and unexciting portfolio ever, you would most certainly buy a chunk of RuneScape shares. This MMO duo — regular and old school — aren’t reshaping the industry or making huge waves, but it’s also one of the most dependable projects on the market. Both MMOs feature regular content updates and a lot of studio-player interaction in the form of polls and guided development.
One word: Amazon. As long as the studio believes in New World and continues to prop it up with resources, this is an MMO that’s not going to go away. Coming a long way since its eclectic development period and shaky first year, New World’s impressed us with some major content releases (including this past year’s Rise of the Angry Earth), willingness to reshape its game world, and strong comms. It’s certainly the most full-featured modern MMO that’s currently on the market, and we’re excited to see where it goes in 2024.
In past years, putting Neverwinter on this list was a no-brainer. It’s always been Cryptic’s top performer with a popular IP — Dungeons & Dragons — giving it oomph. But this year gave us the Embracer debacle that cast not an inconsiderable amount of doubt on the company’s handling of Cryptic and its catalogue. The game itself is healthy, but the corporation behind it shifted and has yet to fully settle, if that makes sense. If all calms down in 2024, Neverwinter is in a good place to continue to churn out adventures and profitability.
Black Desert Online
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Black Desert. Pearl Abyss’ sandbox MMO took a few body blows this year, as it underperformed where it should’ve, especially in the second quarter. However, things looked up later this past year with the Land of the Morning Light expansion that gave the whole company a decided uptick in its financials. Black Desert remains a content-rich, actively developed MMO that’s here for the long haul.
And finishing out our list is another Pearl Abyss-operated title. EVE Online may be on the smallish side, but it actually gained some serious momentum in the second part of 2023 thanks to high concurrencies, profits in the black, and its Havoc expansion. It also helps that there continues to be almost no direct competition for a space sim of this scope and EVE Vanguard is on deck for this upcoming year.