Since launching in the U.S. more than a decade ago in 2004, modern MMO gaming has emerged as one of the most popular niches within this thriving sector. This type of gaming was ushered in with the launch of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (WoW), which incidentally remains as popular today as it ever has done.
This game is available in a total of seven languages and has more than eight million subscribers, for example, while the fundamental requirement of players performing quests to earn money, items and experience continues to underpin the trademark MMO model.
While WoW remains the game that is synonymous with the modern MMO platform, it was not the first to hit the market. This honour goes to the South Korean title Lineage, which was published by the NCsoft development team in 1998. A medieval fantasy adventure based on a series of popular South Korean comic books, this game (and the subsequent franchise) utilised a taming system that enabled players to domesticate non-player characters such as dogs, wolves and dragons.
The emergence of the WoW franchise has triggered the dawn of modern-day MMO gaming, which has evolved from the desktop and console platforms to mobile devices. Although MMO games can still be accessed through more traditional platforms, they are particularly popular on smartphones while developers have also worked hard to create a more flexible style of gaming for players. More specifically, modern games are free to access but include paid subscription options, which in turn enable players to pay for in-game credits alongside earning them through quests and the completion of tasks.
These values underpin the popular ‘freemium’ business model, which creates the definite illusion of free and affords players flexibility when enjoying their favourite strategy games. This has revolutionised gaming, and enables players to continue their adventure across multiple levels and on their own terms.
In fact, it can be argued that the rise of MMO gaming has been driven by the freemium business model, while the proliferation of mobile technology has also made these titles more accessible to players. So while traditional MMO games were considered to be the preserve of avid and dedicated players, modern titles are popular among a more diverse demographic.