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The Oldest MMORPGs You Can Still Play Today, Ranked By Age

We still tend to think of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games as new, even though they’ve been around for almost 25 years. Before more casual MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV came along there were plenty of other online games that catered to a variety of interests. Not all of them were based on the standard fantasy aesthetic either, and some took bold chances when it came to setting, storyline, and characters that would blaze a trail for games that would follow.




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Looking for an MMO-type experience that is not as huge of a time-sink? Then check out these non-MMO games.

Believe it or not, some of the first MMO games that were developed are still available for you to play. Some of them are free while others require a subscription, but they all still have vibrant communities and feature a world that occasionally gets maintenance and updates.

Updated on December 11, by Hilton Webster: Long before the advent of live-service games, we had MMOs. The idea of constantly evolving games seems like a recent advent, but that’s more in how they’re monetised instead. Most MMOs charge a subscription fee to run, and is partly why so many of them are still running to this day. We’ve updated this article with a few more extra details on each game in case you want to get in on a piece of history.

12 Age Of Conan (2008)

A woman with tattoos on her body wielding a knife and looking at the camera. The background looks like a desert.

  • Has been running for over 15 years.
  • Has a Hybrid model, allowing free-to-play, and a Subscription with extra bonuses for $12.99 a month.
  • The game is split across the original launcher and Steam release, with the original launcher being a more popular option for play.

Age of Conan has gone through a few incarnations, but it’s still the same game as it was when it was launched in 2008. The game is based on the books written by Robert E. Howard instead of the franchise of comic books or movies and all of this combined makes a vast world with a lot for a player to explore.

Its full name is currently Age of Conan: Unchained and it used to be called Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Today the game is called Conan: Exiles and it includes a real-time combat system and options to build and defend fortifications along with a hardcore PvP server.

11 The Lord Of The Rings Online (2007)

The Lord Of The Rings Online - A dark knight riding a black horse toward the screen.

  • Has been running for over 16 years.
  • Originally Subscription-based, the game adopted a Hybrid model in 2010, with subscribers gaining additional perks for $14.99 a month.
  • The highest all-time peak of players was 3,965 when it first launched on Steam, though still has a healthy daily amount of over 1,000 players.

Considering the popularity of the Peter Jackson films and the broad fanbase The Lord of the Rings franchise already enjoys, this game probably should have been launched earlier.

​​​​​The expansions in the game have names like The Siege of Mirkwoodand Moria, so you know they aren’t messing around when it comes to taking inspiration from the books. It started out as a game that required a subscription. But these days, it’s free-to-play.

10 Dungeons & Dragons Online (2006)

A screenshot of the race menu in DND Online, showing the different options with a female elf model.

  • Has been running for 17 years.
  • Originally Subscription-based, the game adopted a Hybrid model in 2009, with subscribers gaining additional perks for $14.99 a month.
  • The game hit its all-time Steam peak in 2012 with a player count of 2,854, though still has around 300 players daily.

You would think that D&D Online would be more popular because the rules developed for the tabletop game form the basis of virtually every RPG ever developed. It never really had the same online fanbase and was slightly late to the party, which might be why the game never got beyond a few thousand subscribers when it was launched and is now entirely a free-to-play model.


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Marketing aside, the game has an impressive pedigree, with some legends from the D&D franchise contributing to the initial development. That includes narration from Gary Gygax himself, along with the story and setting information from the Wizards of the Coast. It may not be the fanciest MMORPG available, but it’s the most authentic for those that want a classic RPG experience.

9 Guild Wars (2005)

Character with armor standing in front of a bridge.

  • Has been running for 18 years.
  • Has had a free-to-play model since release, with no associated monthly fees at all.
  • The original Guild Wars has approximately 30,000 daily players, a remarkable number for a game of its age with a sequel.

There’s also a sequel to this game, Guild Wars 2, which is also popular, but the original game is still online so you can experience it if you want. Guild Wars uses the same medieval fantasy setting as other MMOs, but it sets itself apart with an instance-based combat system and high graphics quality.

It was also one of the first games to use a business model that didn’t depend on a monthly subscription fee. The legacy continues and it still won’t cost you anything to try.

8 World Of Warcraft (2004)

The Tailor's Work Table workstation in Valdrakken in World of Warcraft.

  • Has been running for 19 years.
  • Offers a Free Trial up to level 20, at which point you will need to purchase a monthly subscription of $14.99.
  • World of Warcraft is estimated to have a total subscriber base of over 130 million, with over 1 million logging in daily.

The game that was responsible for bringing MMOs mainstream and opening the market to casual players has become the hydra of the MMO world, branching out into an older version and servers for previous expansions. The original game that was launched in 2004 continues to evolve and is often referred to as “retail” by WoW players.

Ironically, the version of the game that you would call “Classic” was launched in 2018 in response to popular and vocal demand for legacy servers that were more like the old game from 2004. The most recent expansion of the original game, Dragonflight, was well-received and brought both old and new fans back into the fold.

7 EVE Online (2003)

a ship travels through space in the EVE online still

  • Has been running for 20 years.
  • Eve Online is free-to-play, but offers a monthly subscription service of $19.99 for massive in-game bonuses.
  • The game averages around 30,000 players daily, with a peak concurrent player count of 65,303.

It’s one of the biggest and oldest MMORPGs in existence, turning 20 this year, and hasn’t gone through that many profound changes since it was first launched, such as a free-to-play version that has been available since 2016. EVE Online stands apart from the other MMOs of the internet with its sci-fi and outer-space setting instead of a fantasy or medieval aesthetic.


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EVE Online takes place 20,000 years into the future when humanity has exhausted Earth’s resources and branched out to other regions of the galaxy. The scale of the game is impressive and includes combat, crafting, exploration, PvE challenges, commerce, and even piracy.

6 A Tale In The Desert (2003)

A tale in the desert, screenshot, camels and sheep in paddocks

  • Has been running for 20 years.
  • The first 24 hours are free, at which point you must pay a monthly subscription of $11.95.

There are a lot of MMOs that focus on crafting, farming, or building as opposed to combat, and A Tale in the Desert is such a game. It doesn’t feature options for combat at all. Instead, players can participate in group challenges called “Tests” and tend to their own projects along the way.

The game has a unique way of “updating” and essentially ends every 18 months. It starts again after the players have given their input regarding tweaks, fixes, and other changes. The initial download is free, but a subscription is required to play for more than two days.

5 RuneScape (2001)

  • Has been running for 22 years.
  • Has a Hybrid model. Free-to-play users are limited to only 20 percent of the map, while subscribers (who come in normal and premier memberships) gain additional bonuses.
  • Though exact numbers are hard to find, all versions of Runescape have around 1 million average users and around 4,000 daily.

RuneScape was the bridge that most people took into MMOs when Everquest was only for hardcore players and Warcraft was still just an RTS game. Other versions of the game exist that were requested by fans in later years, and it’s easy to get them mixed up.

RuneScape Classicis actually the original version of the game, and Old School Runescapeis a version that dates from 2007. You can play for free and there’s also a versatile subscription model that you can buy special tokens for in-game or pay for with real money.

4 Dark Age Of Camelot (2001)

The player interacting with other NPCs on a table.

  • Has been running for 22 years.
  • Has a free-to-play model with limited access to races and classes, and a subscription model with unlimited access for $14.95 a month
  • The estimated player base of Dark Age of Cemalot is 70,000, with around 3,000 daily players.

Most MMOs use a fantasy setting, and Dark Age of Camelot is no exception, but what makes it unique is how many mythological traditions the game brings together. Ancient tales from Norse, Celtic and Arthurian lore make up your character’s backstory and adventures.

These old legends extend in a very clever way into how the game is organized. For example, players can start on one of three realms, and each is based on a place inspired by real-world mythology. Play on Albion, Hibernia, or Midgard as a Ranger, Enchanter, or Champion.

3 Anarchy Online (2001)

Anarchy Online featuring two characters fighting in a forest

  • Has been running for 22 years.
  • Anarchy Online is free-to-play in its entirety until you purchase one of the newer expansions, at which point the monthly subscription of $14.99 kicks in.

It’s the science fiction setting that made Anarchy Online unique back in the day. As the game passes its 20th anniversary, it’s one of the reasons it’s still going.


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Your character is a colonist on the dangerous planet of Rubi-Ka, collecting the precious mineral Notum as they settle and develop the surrounding land. There is an underlying storyline, but overall it’s a sandbox-style game in which players are free to customize their own unique experience.

2 EverQuest (1999)

A character standing in front of a garden.

  • Has been running for 24 years.
  • Has two tiers, with a free-to-play version, and a paid tier featuring additional bonuses, costing $14.99 a month.
  • Newer numbers are difficult to find, though as of 2020, EverQuest had a monthly player count of 29,000.

If you only have access to a device running macOS, you might be out of luck here. The version of Everquest that was launched for that operating system was discontinued in 2013 after running for ten years.

The game is still going strong on other platforms even though the company maintaining it has changed hands a few times in recent years. This is the game that made MMORPGs as we now know them, and practically every popular MMO following in its footsteps would eventually borrow several of the basic design ideas.

1 Ultima Online (1997)

Ultima online gameplay

  • Has been running for 26 years.
  • Has a free-to-play account called Endless Journey, and also a paid Veteran account or $11.99 a month.
  • Despite the long-running time, Ultima Online still averages around 1,600 daily players.

The Ultima series is one of the oldest in video game history, dating from the 1980s with some of the first computer-based RPG games. It always had a reputation for some serious PvP action, and the focus is still on the player-versus-player combat system.

The game got a huge upgrade in 2010 with the Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn expansion in 2007. Like RuneScape, it has both a free version and a monthly fee model, but certain activities and areas are restricted based on your status as a subscriber.


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