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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: That's Not an MMO

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50 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15084

OP  9/12/13 6:32:33 PM#1

Often when a game is listed at, it is said by some to "not be an MMO". In our latest Tourist column, we take a look at that charge and try to offer a bit of a different perspective on the matter. See what we think before leaving your own thoughts in the comments.

Forgive the aggression here, but it's a bit irritating to see Massively Multiplayer shilled off on so many bullet-point lists. It's one more example of marketing teams assuming the ignorance of the average gamer. I resent the term “massive” being used to describe 16 players on a single map. By using “MMO” they are cribbing a term which had clear definitions and muddying the waters. Even attached to other genre signifiers, stealing the most important part of our acronym makes it more meaningless than ever before.

Read more of Chris Coke's The Tourist: That's Not an MMO.

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Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


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9/13/13 12:44:35 PM#2
I got to say that this is the very first column written here that I truly stand behind. And I have registered a few years back...


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9/13/13 1:02:02 PM#3

The True Meaning of MMORPG, or who the hell cares? Who's the author to tell me what's Truly True (TM) MMORPG is and what isn't? Nobody, that's who.


*shrug* why did I even read that...


Novice Member

Joined: 7/03/09
Posts: 803

9/13/13 1:14:11 PM#4

Oh geeze! And I thought it meant Most Men Online Role Play Girls.

On a serious note, I agree with the writer. The meaning is in the words.

"Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a genre of role-playing video games or web browser based games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world.

As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world or science-fiction world) and take control over many of that character's actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game's persistent world (usually hosted by the game's publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game."


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9/13/13 1:16:09 PM#5

Good article, thanks.

I also like to mention that when I hear the term MMO or MMORPG I have certain expectations. Where the example's of what a MMO or MMORPG explained in OP is.

When I enter a RTS game I expect a certain stratigic game. Same with FPS I have certain expectations. Same with what ever genre of games.

And I will admit the line has blured to what is and what is not a MMORPG or MMO.

Of couse there are people that just play games if they are fun to them and they don't care in what genre or segment the games belongs as long it's fun to them. But for those gamers that actually choose a certain genre of games they should expect that genre to atleast have the familiar basics.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/17/04
Posts: 485

9/13/13 1:20:01 PM#6

Very good article. Just a few random thoughts....


I vaguely recall an article on here when Diablo III was being released that was explaining why it was being included on MMORPG. I forget what the reasons were, but the true reason in my opinion was that it was very popular and very hyped pre-release, and it was was simply listed here to get more viewers to the page. I guess if you only had true MMOs on this site, it would be pretty desolate, having maybe 20 games or so.


That said, the MMO requirements for listing games here are pretty thin. When I think “massively”, I think of 100's or even 1000's playing together on the same server, interacting directly (glad you mentioned Planetside2). Any “match” based game with a fixed number of players on each side (LoL, Smite, Global Agenda, etc..) just doesn't fit this category. I mean you might as well call video poker and Farmville massively multiplayer as well. Think about how many thousands of people are playing those games around the world right at this moment. It doesn't matter that they are not playing them together, the games are still being played at the same time, and based on the way games make the list, I think should be included on this MMO site. I guess the problem I have is that the term “massively” applied to many of these games is very misleading. Same goes for the term “free” being applied to many FTP games, but that is a discussion for another post...



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Joined: 5/02/10
Posts: 425

9/13/13 1:37:53 PM#7
Agree with the OP 100%. However, I believe the push to expand the MMO definition is slowing, if not going the other way. Investors now are after the mobile market and dumping MMO startups right and left. If it was not for Kickstarter the MMO landscape would be much worse. 

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9/13/13 1:44:37 PM#8
Originally posted by Grahor

The True Meaning of MMORPG, or who the hell cares? Who's the author to tell me what's Truly True (TM) MMORPG is and what isn't? Nobody, that's who.


*shrug* why did I even read that...

I care. I agree with him. I couldn't have explained it better. I have been waiting for an Article like this to be featured on MMORPG.COM for years. It is long overdue.


Notice this website is name An Article like this actually belongs here.


  User Deleted
9/13/13 2:08:18 PM#9

Originally posted by Grahor
The True Meaning of MMORPG, or who the hell cares? Who's the author to tell me what's Truly True (TM) MMORPG is and what isn't? Nobody, that's who.


*shrug* why did I even read that...

This is a topic that I have seen MMORPG written about before and I'm sure it is a topic that continuously gets revisited like the other heated debates of P2P vs F2P, Sandbox vs theme-park etc.

IMO its a good topic to revisit and to somewhat remind people where the boundaries stand at least for the site (or maybe more specifically for the writer for those picky enough to point that out).

It isn't necessarily about how one person wants to define "true meaning of MMO" as opposed to pointing out the lines that are "drawn" and where MMO begins and ends on a broader scale. I don't think there's anything outrageous in the writer's claim and he keeps it to the obvious. Like no one here will call a MOBA an MMO, otherwise it wouldn't need its own genre "MOBA", same with Multiplayer FPS, Action RPG/Hack n Slash etc.

I think this is good because not only does it show where things don't fit into MMO's but how MMO's fit into the genre in the first place and I think this is something many forget especially when players are quick to point out how every MMO is a clone of another because of the similarities that games within a genre all HAVE to share.


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9/13/13 2:44:49 PM#10
Originally posted by Grahor

The True Meaning of MMORPG, or who the hell cares? Who's the author to tell me what's Truly True (TM) MMORPG is and what isn't? Nobody, that's who.


*shrug* why did I even read that...

For the same reason we have to argue over the true meaning of the word "football"

Most of the world is terribly confused over its usage versus some strange game called Soccer.

LOL, while I agree with the author, I also have to agree with Narius (who should make his way here shortly) who will argue that word meanings evolve over time, and perhaps the term MMO really is much broader and applies in fact to games such as MOBA's and D3.

But keep away from the term MMORPG, that's where I personally draw the line and feel that is more in keeping with the types of games the OP was describing.


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9/13/13 2:49:12 PM#11

Big, Persistent World, I hated EQ2 because of all the load screens when you changed zones.  Same goes for AO (Anarchy Online).  I'm sure none here have played it, since so few have.  The wilderness had visible shimmering boundaries for its many zones.  The game seemed like a copy of SWG in so many ways to me except for this.  These two games are classics of the MMO genre but fail your definition as I read it.  What say you to that?


Real Players, Real Connections, when I played UO, AC, and DAoC I never joined a guild and never made a single real connection.  I have met and interacted in a much larger community in my years playing in D1, D2, & D3.  These are lobby games.  But they are Massive communities, more so than the single player experiences I had with UO, AC, and DAoC.


My first Guild was in Planetside 1, so I am glad you mentioned P2.

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9/13/13 2:54:11 PM#12
Actually, this forum is a bit like an MMORPG.  

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9/13/13 3:05:34 PM#13
What about quasi-mmo's? ;) Eg Star Citizen, Shroud Of The Avatar ?


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9/13/13 3:24:13 PM#14
Originally posted by Gardavsshade
Originally posted by Grahor

The True Meaning of MMORPG, or who the hell cares? Who's the author to tell me what's Truly True (TM) MMORPG is and what isn't? Nobody, that's who.


*shrug* why did I even read that...

I care. I agree with him. I couldn't have explained it better. I have been waiting for an Article like this to be featured on MMORPG.COM for years. It is long overdue.


Notice this website is name An Article like this actually belongs here. 

I care, as well. We classify things into categories for a reason; it makes it easier to navigate and find what you're looking for. This is some pretty basic stuff, really. Imagine what a library would be like without any organization and just books randomly placed wherever. I mean, really.

Watering down the meaning of mmo(rpg) for the sake of marketing is irresponsible and quite frankly idiotic. I am confused why some are not seeing this and just jumping on board without using any common sense whatsoever. It's strange.


"Mr. Rothstein, your people never will understand... the way it works out here. You're all just our guests. But you act like you're at home. Let me tell you something, partner. You ain't home. But that's where we're gonna send you if it harelips the governor." - Pat Webb


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9/13/13 4:40:54 PM#15

I've been saying the same thing for years and have pointed out in quite a few posts here that some games covered on MMORPG are not really MMO's at all.


I'm right there with the author. It pisses me off to see the MMO term applied to so many blatantly "multiplayer" games that only have 15v15 maps.


Personally I put it down to pure greed. Devs see the way F2P is taking over and slam "MMO" onto their game to justify a cash shop. WoT, War Thunder, Blacklight Retribution, the list goes on. It's just a grab for cash.


Just one more reason I'd rather have a sub based game that's well made and worth the money.


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9/13/13 10:03:41 PM#16
Personally I don't think we cant deny they are wrong, where in mmorpg does it say it has to be co-op? In essence if it allows for masses of people to login to a server and play on the same world co-op or not then it is exactly as it is named
I know we assume or are used to the old school genre of mmo to be co-op but either way if we like it or not if mmo's have massive amounts of players play on said games, if anything I think the whole RPG part is missing not the mmo


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9/13/13 10:05:13 PM#17
Personally I don't think we cant deny they are wrong, where in mmorpg does it say it has to be co-op? In essence if it allows for masses of people to login to a server and play on the same world co-op or not then it is exactly as it is named
I know we assume or are used to the old school genre of mmo to be co-op but either way if we like it or not if mmo's have massive amounts of players play on said games, if anything I think the whole RPG part is missing not the mmo


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9/13/13 10:06:27 PM#18
Excellent article and I wholeheartedly agree with the "what's not a MMO" part!

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9/13/13 11:41:29 PM#19
Hey guys. Thanks for the comments! It's late and I am on my phone, but I wanted to chime in just to clarify why posts on League or D3 might appear here. Essentially, those types of games rub shoulders with MMOs and tend to be of interest to the community. In this article, I am railing against people classifying them AS MMOs, which we out of all gaming sites don't do. We cover them because our readers care, not because we're saying they're something they're not. 

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9/14/13 2:24:55 AM#20

@GameByNight, back in the mid 90's I too a look at MUDs.  I don't know their populations then or now, do you consider them MMOs?  If a MUD had a simultaneous user population over 1000, would that qualify?


The basic question is does a lobby count in determining ownership of the title MMO (not mmorpg, just MMO).  Realize that we may not think of the game lobby as a part of the game, because all we can do their is socialize and interact verbally or textually.  But If I said the lobby is a pre-spawn point or game limbo and added lore support info, could every get on board?


Instead of sounding like champions of MMO purity, you are sounding like old men left behind as the modern world progresses.  "You kids and your rock and roll music, your dungarees and motor bikes.  Why in my day we rode a hoarse and carriage, and we liked it."  I say get on board or get left behind.  We may not always like change, but it is inevitable.

Pardon any spelling errors
Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
Boy: Why can't I talk to Him?
Mom: We don't talk to Priests.
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