Most Popular MMORPGs in the World

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Ever since Ultima Online launched back in 1997, the MMORPG genre quickly grew and became mainstream. Nowadays, there are hundreds of free to play MMORPGs and dozens of subscription based titles, but which are the most popular in the world? Which MMORPGs have the largest playerbase? How many players do they have? Well, take a look at the list below:

Note: This list only includes MMORPGs. No MOBAs or FPS games. Remember, these numbers are WORLDWIDE. So many popular Western MMORPGs didn't even make the list. Asia is a huge market for MMORPGs, China especially, so many games that are immensely popular there dominated this list. This list is not 100% representative of the most ACTIVELY played games today, as it's based on lifetime registered users.

#1 Dungeon Fighter Online
Over 400 million registered users

Dungeon Fighter Online, also called Dungeon and Fighter, is THE most popular MMORPG in the world, largely due to its success in mainland China. The game has achieved over 3 million concurrent users during its peak in August 24, 2012 in China alone according to data released by Nexon.

#2 Fantasy Westward Journey
Over 310 million registered users

Fantasy Westward Journey is an incredibly popular MMORPG in China developed and published by Netease, China's second biggest MMORPG developer. The game boasted an incredible 2.71 million concurrent users on August 5, 2012, and since the launch of its mobile version in 2015, it has likely increased. It is easily one of the most popular MMORPGs and most profitable MMORPGs in the world, despite not having a Western release.

#3 RuneScape
Over 200 million registered users

The browser based MMORPG Runescape was one of the pioneers of the MMORPG genre and reached over 200 million registered users back in 2012. Jagex's game continues to be incredible popular even today. It's also one of the only truly global games on this list as its localized in dozens of languages and popular world wide.

#4 Dragon Nest
Over 200 million registered users

Available in the West through Nexon, Dragon Nest is an action MMORPG with anime inspired graphics. While still remaining in service, the game's playerbase in the West has stagnated, but remains strong in Asia. According to Shanda Games' the Chinese game developer which earns a stake in the Korean developer, the game has over 200 million registered users world wide.

#5 The Legend of Mir 3
Over 120 million registered users

Originally released in 2001 as a sequel to The Legend of Mir 2, The Legend of Mir 2 has over 120 million players world wide, mostly (as you probably guessed by now), in China. Despite its 2001 release date in Asia, the game launched in the U.S. in 2009, but shut down due to unprofitability.

#6 MapleStory
Over 100 million registered users

Nexon's 2D side scrolling MMORPG Maplestory is incredibly popular in both Korea and China. It was one of the first free to play MMORPGs to launch in Western markets, but its core popularity, like most games on this list, is from China and Korea. The game has stagnated quite a bit in the West, but still remains fairly popular elsewhere. MapleStory 2 aims to reinvigorate the franchise.

#7 World of Warcraft
Over 100 million registered users

Despite peaking at nearly 12.5 million active subscribers back in 2012, World of Warcraft still has over 7 million active players, with the most recent figure since the launch of Warlords of Draenor pushing that number to over 10 million. World of Warcraft is one of the few subscription based MMORPGs on this list.

#8 ZT Online / ZT Online 2
Over 100 million registered users (*Estimate)

ZT Online is a fantasy MMORPG only available in Asia reached over 2 million peak concurrent users back in September, 2009. The game's popularity has tapered a bit, but it still remains a hugely successful MMORPG.

#9 Scions of Fate (Yulgang in Asia)
Over 100 million registered users

Scions of Fate, despite its lack of popularity in the U.S., is a force to be recokned with in China. The game's 100 million registered players statistic is quite old (2007), so the actual data is probably much higher. Despite it's age, Yulgang is still popular today in China.

#10 Ragnarok Online
Over 80 million registered users

Ragnarok Online is one of the only games on this list that has broadly universal appeal; the game is incredibly popular in both the East and West. The game's 80+ million registered users are spread over 70 countries and the game is Gravity Interactive's most successful title. Despite the game's age (launched back in 2002), it still remains quite popular today. If you add in the game's private server playerbase, Ragnarok Online would be much higher on this list.

#11 Dragon Oath (TLBB in Asia)
Over 75 million registered users

Despite having little success in the West, ChangYou's Dragon Oath, called TLBB in China, has over 75 million registered players worldwide. Yes, the U.S. servers are largely dead, but it's one of the most profitable MMORPGs in China. The game's mobile version launched in China earlier in 2015 too and has been a huge hit in China.

#12 Dofus
Over 62 million registered users

Ankama's turn based RPG Dofus has attracted over 60 million registered users worldwide since its initial launch back in 2004. Dofus is a browser based MMORPG and is Ankama's first popular MMORPG and like Runescape, much of its popularity was due to its ease of access, as it's a flash based MMO.

#13 Perfect World
Over 50 million registered users

Data on this one was hard to come by, but Arc Games advertised on a banner previously that they had over 50 million registered players world-wide. To no one's surprise, this is largely because of the game's popularity in China. Perfect World published their games on their Wanmei.com portal and is one of the biggest publishers and developers in China. This figure includes Perfect World International, which is the US/EU/Non China version.

#14 Lineage
Over 43 million registered users

NCSoft's original Lineage game is still incredibly popular, despite being released over 17 years ago back in September, 1998. Despite the game's North American servers shutting down on June 29, 2011, the Korean and Chinese versions remain incredibly profitable, with Lineage also being one of the most profitable MMORPGs in the world. Lineage 2 was not nearly as successful as the first game and Lineage Eternal is the last game in the franchise.

Honorable Mentions:

Tera
Over 20 million registered users.

Originally launched as a pay to play game back in 2012, Tera later embraced the free to play model in February, 2013. Since going free to play, Tera has enjoyed enormous success in Western markets and became incredibly popular on Steam.

Star Wars: The Old Republic
~Over 10 million registered users

Originally launched as a pay to play subscription game by Electronic Arts, Star Wars: The Old Republic relaunched as a free to play title and quickly grew in popularity. Despite having a lot less total registered users than many games on this list, Star Wars: The Old Republic has an active core playerbase.

Blade and Soul
1.5M Peak Concurrent Users Q1 2014

Blade and Soul originally launched in South Korea back in mid 2012 and made its way to China in late 2013, where it saw tremendous success. According to Tencent (NCSoft's local partner in China), Blade and Soul reached 1.5M peak concurrent users in 1Q 2014. With the game's North American launch scheduled for early 2016, Blade and Soul could see some success in the West too. There's no data on total registered accounts, but with 1.5M concurrent users as recent as 2014, Blade and Soul is definitely one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world.

The most popular games aren't necessarily the most profitable. If you're curious about which MMOs make the most money, check out our most profitable MMORPGs list. Amazing how many Chinese MMORPGs made the list. MMOs are big business there and with a population over 1.3 billion, it shouldn't be too surprising some of the top most played games are exclusively in China. This list will be regularly updated as we uncover more data and as new games launch.

All data cited from industry sources and company press releases. Most of the numbers are self-reported by the developers themselves. Sources:
Dungeon Fighter Online Playerbase(Figure also cited on official developer website as well as several game trailers)
Fantasy Westward Journey Playerbase (Figure also cited in dozens of official company press releases)
Runescape Playerbase (Event celebrating 200 million players)
Dragon Nest Playerbase (Press release from developer cites figure for this individual game. Number also cited in numerous corporate press releases)
Legend of Mir Playerbase (Playerbase statistic cited by Taipei Times in an article about one player killing another in real life over an in-game item)
MapleStory Playerbase Source 1, Source 2
World of Warcraft Playerbase (Official post by Blizzard)
ZT Online (2.1 Million PCU in 2008. Estimated over 100m accounts between ZT Online 1 / 2)
Scions of Fate Playerbase (Press release from game's publisher in Southeast Asia)
Ragnarok Online Playerbase (Press release by developer cites #s)
Dragon Oath Playerbase (Oddly this image claims 90 million. It's from the official Dragon Oath FB page. The U.S. website for the game claims 75 million in its meta description)
Dofus Playerbase (Official Infographic from Ankama)
Perfect World Playerbase (Cited under the description for Perfect World International on game's official site)
Lineage Playerbase (Source cites all Lineage games, but this is from 2006. Lineage 1 remains extremely popular today and generates about as much revenue as all other NCSoft games combined as of 2015)
Tera Playerbase (Infographic from publisher)
Blade and Soul Playerbase (Tencent 2Q 2015 Investor Report)

 

Been playing MMOs since I first got my hands on Ultima Online when I was 12 years old. Played so many games from Star Wars Galaxies to MapleStory to DAoC to World of Warcraft. Long time League of Legends player too! I'm also Known as "ReMo" and "Remotay"