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"

  • Amazing how a lot of REALLY old MMORPGs are still super popular in China... Like Scions of Fate is still a big game there.

    • Cian Deely

      Crazy how the East love MMOs so much.
      I also thought WoW would be much higher.

  • Cian Deely

    As an ex-runescaper, I can confirm that a huge portion of those 200 million were bots, as they really plauged the game.
    Lots of players also created numerous alts each, for pvp and skilling.
    The PVP system pretty much gave a huge advantage to players who only leveled combat skills they used, which is why there is so many alts.

    • Fair enough, but every game has a lot of inactive registered users/bots/etc. Can't argue though that Runescape is incredibly popular

      • Cian Deely

        It's amazingly popular, probably due to it's semi-uniqueness, since it's not a themepark, it has no classes, combat is not forced, it has a huge amount of skills and all of this packed into a browser game.
        Too bad it is moving progressively into the cashshop model.
        Interesting article none-the-less.

        • Phenom1250

          It mainly gained viral attention because it was the first MMO that you didn't have to download. Browser MMOs back then were mostly Text MUDs. On top of that, the game allowed you to play the tutorial mode while it was still downloading the full game. They pretty much took advantage of that era but making an Java-based MMO that was extremely to get into, especially since Java was more heavily used in the early 2000s than it is now. What made people stay was the game's unique MMO system.

  • HikuMatsune

    What I find neat about most of these games is that they are pretty low spec: except WoW, SWtOR. My computer right now is super low spec and it's nice to see this.

    • Low spec is very important for the Asian market. Blizzard's games have always handled PC specs well, because they run on low end machines and still look good on higher end.

  • JustANinja
    • Thanks! Updated the list.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    So much OOOOOOOOOOOOOLD crap. The worst thing about these MMOs is that old cheating is never cleared out, and over 10 years, the community becomes just a bunch of ex cheaters.

  • Phenom1250

    Lineage looks a lot like The 4th Coming.

  • SRO7

    Hey nice article. Just to add some:

    -Westward Journey Online 2 83 million registered users

    -Ragnarok Online 80 million registered users

    -MU Online 56 million registered users

    -Neverland Online 33.9 million registered users

    -Tera Online 17 million registered users

    Sorry couldn't post links as when I post them the system detect my post as spam for some reason.

  • Vanilla Thunder

    is there a forums we can go on? or is that not available yet

    • Hey Vanilla,

      No forums yet. There's A LOT of stuff we're working on. More content #1, but a functional good gameslist on the gameslist tab is in the works too. Thinking instead of a forum maybe a chat room or something. Something that's sleek, easy to use, and a place where people can talk. Forums as a medium are kinda dying anyway. Reddit sorta replaced the Forum IMO. But I'm open to suggestions for anything 😀

      -Omer (omer@mmos.com)

  • Donquixote Doflamingo

    Which idiot made this post? the most played MMos are World of Warcraft 1st, Final Fantasy XIV second Guild Wars 2 third all other mmos have extremely lower population

  • Deyirn Skysand

    I'm kind of glad I've played at least some of the,

  • Dan X

    Leave it up to the east to have the most players ... but yeah most of these games need low specs which is one of the reasons they are so popular in the first place , and east sure does love it's generic old type of mmorpgs

    • Yup. My mind is blown that some of these games remain so incredibly popular. I mean they do get a lot of new games in Asia too and people are getting better and better PCs, but are sticking with a lot of old games.... Nostalgia factor I guess?

      • I don't think there are as many folks with the cash to spend on a new rig every 2-3 years which generally speaking is about what you need to stay relevant.

      • Jaycephus

        My guess is: It's not 'nostalgia' when it's still new to them. Think at least 4 times as many players with computers and/or network bandwidth comparable in many cases to the US eighties, and so games we think of as 'nostalgia' games are their first-experience games. When China has more PC power, bandwidth, and experience, they'll want more modern games, and that's what will get made for them.

  • George Blair

    #14 Star Wars: The Old Republic
    Over 30 million registered users

    Waaay old data.

  • Matthew Pierson

    I never count most of the asian games since over half of the player base are farmers/bots trying to make money and the gameplay is typically shit compared to western mmorpgs.

    • That's not necessarily true. A lot of the most popular games are also the most profitable. Lineage 2/Fantasy Westward Journey/Mir 3 are HUGELY profitable. DFO makes more revenue that WoW. You can create bots, but the revenue numbers don't lie.

      • Matthew Pierson

        I never said they weren't profitable as I'm sure they are with that many active players. I just meant that bots/farmers make up a huge portion of those players and they take away from the quality. And I like how you didn't dispute my last point 😛

        • Mithrahn

          Then I'll be the one to dispute your last point.
          "Asian games' gameplay is typically shit compared to western MMORPGs" because westerners and asians have different cultures. Of course you wouldn't like asian mmorpgs' gameplay. You're too close minded to accept different styles.

          • Matthew Pierson

            I wouldn't say I am close minded, just not a fan of pay-to-win games with thousands of spammers and bots and awful stories. Now I am not saying all asian mmo's are like that, just most of them. So I guess western culture just prefers higher-quality games?

          • cacabunsyo

            Qee, tour miné is closes.
            1) Every US game had thousands of spammers and bots.

            2) Story is rich. But when translated through westerners that don't understand Asian references, it gets dumbed down. For example, references to empire figures, religeous figures, or myth... It gets washed out in west. Vise verca... It's like the bible.. tell an Asian a dragon is evil, they tell you no, good luck... So you don't get it.

            Asia's games have Benn higher quality for quite some time. To date west is lacking in graphics, scope, and mechanics. And focusing on console where, yes, we hire Asians...

          • Andhi

            i don't know much about mmorpg but what i know western more in to adventure/action game than mmo'rpg' and much game asian success in their own country, like mithrahn said asian and western style is different, also much japan developer only only releasing for japan people only and it good game. only chinese and korean developer that more open and work together and making it to english.

          • I agree, there are a lot of REALLY bad Asian MMOs and they are pumped out like crazy. Which is why we only get probably 2 out of 20 that get made.

          • Quad Vesper

            totally agreed it's kinda culture of western had far different asian culture. and that's why western never ever ever get some "easter egg reference" that typical western always call in asian mmo...

  • A bunch of these games aren't really THAT popular anymore; namely RuneScape, MapleStory, Perfect World, Yulgang And Perfect World, but the rest are still popular.

    • I think the problem here is "worldwide" which includes the Asian market that makes up for HUGE (probably 60-70%) amounts of these numbers. Also keep in mind not every country is like the US, where 12 year olds get their mom to buy them a new PC every other year, so the older games stay relevant because the hardware most of these guys are using is older tech/spec.

  • Eidoss

    Where's World of Tanks?
    It has over 150M registered users.

    • World of tanks is one of the most popular MMOs in the world, but it's not an MMORPG, thus it was excluded from the list.

  • Peter Djurgår’n Schön

    Trust me with all the different private servers for World of Warcraft like warmane WoW have MUCH more than than 100 million, that is by far the most popular game every and have easily most on this list at least 600 million

    • Peter Djurgår’n Schön

      Maybe not anymore but the numbers of people that have played wow no other mmorpg will ever come close

      • I played WoW and FOR ME it never came close to the MMORPGs I played before, like Ultima Online. Also every MMORPG I played during the last 18 years kept me at least 12 month, except of vanilla WoW, which I left after 6 month, since it wasn't MY cup of tea. So please stop generalising everything.

        • bXyJ3vW4SaYfPfh6

          Started wowing during WotLK. It was awesome. Best game ever because the content was awesome and the builds ambiguous. Then they came out with Cataclysm and ruined the game with cookie cutter armor/builds. MoP destroyed the game with its kung fu panda BS. Warlords of Draenor - too little too late. Same shit different expansion. Still takes 1.5s to mount (used to take 3). All your plugins break after every update. They don't have a basic damage meter build in requiring a plugin that breaks. Armor becomes obsolete every time they patch. Raiding is still as stupid as it was in vanilla wow. Gear takes months to acquire, then boom, class changed, suddenly obsolete.

          How they manage to keep people playing is beyond me. The only good thing about wow were a few of the PVP battlefields.

          Try logging in and oh hey...you have to spend a week getting to whatever max level is. Can't fly nope...gotta go slow.

          Wow still relies on the grind. The grind has never been fun. Ever.

    • Matt

      Private servers don't count and any exact numbers are speculation.

    • Cilex

      from 100 million to 600 million? bitch please. I've played on Warmane. They peak at 10k players.
      There's not enough private servers out there to fill you'r "500 million" extra players. Stop talking bullshit

  • Donquixote Doflamingo

    What a stupid troll post, i have never even heard most of those on the list. WoW, Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 are the top 3 in population

    • Sources Don Quixote? Or do you see giants instead of windmills?

    • Matt

      Fantasy Westward Journey has a peak concurrent user record of over 2 million. Even the mobile game does. You can find plenty of sources for that on Google. It's a China-exclusive game, but it is wickedly popular.

      Similarly, Dungeon Fighter Online makes around $891 million per year. It's basically the most popular and profitable MMORPG in the world thanks to its popularity in Asia.

      Just because they aren't popular in the West and you haven't heard of them doesn't mean that they aren't the most popular.

    • lol. You pulled those numbers straight from your ass, buddy. Doesn't change the fact that the numbers in this post are true.

      • Donquixote Doflamingo

        Just by putting other mmos higher than WoW shows clearly that it isnt true, there has never been a single mmo with more players than WoW , and the only game(not mmo) that beat WoW in players is League of Leegends. But even by looking at the pictures of the weird games on 1#, and 2# you can see that they arent even mmos

        • lol. You're just plain wrong. Dungeon Fighter Online makes more money than WoW and has more total registered players AND more total active users. Infographic showing revenues (Playerbase #s already cited in my article)

          http://i.imgur.com/kL86HLl.jpg

          I recommend you don't insist you're correct on things when you're too lazy to even find out if what you're saying is true. WoW is a popular game, but it's not anywhere close to #1 in terms of Revenue OR playerbase. Playerbase wise, it's hard for it to compete since Dungeon Fighter is free (Free AND makes more money!)

    • Chris J Wilhelms

      FF14 doesn and gw should not be on the list. wows a fluke as real oldschool players will say. ragnarok online would be number 1 if they counted private servers. and this list just notes REGISTERED accounts, everquest should be on it. it also doesnt take in account the multi accounts per person.

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    1. 我是小便斗佛奶奶仙人!

    2. 我想通你的小便斗, 你的龜頭容易碰到我的小便斗

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  • John Park

    Can't believe Dragon Nest has more registered users than Gayplestory :^)

  • JuniorBoy

    Runescape was my first mmorpg and then Maplestory. Good times, good times.

  • ace-meza

    ...i should play Dragon Nest

  • Jill Sandwich

    Wasn't Blade & Soul is shutting down? ::checks:: My bad, it's Scarlet Blade. Both are based on Queens Blade.

    Dungeon Fighter Online was definitely shut down, but it will probably get picked up by a new develioper.

    • noname

      Those games are from two entirely different developers and publishers, so no, there is no connection between Blade and Soul and Queens/Scarlet Blade. Queens was also never popular in any region, not even in Korea.

    • Blade and Soul is based on an anime by the same name. Queens Blade is based on something different entirely. So yeah totally unrelated games. Also B&S is fun for about 30 minutes and then you realize it's just a pretty MMO with bad controls and no originality. It was too little too late imo as it took forever for it to reach NA/EU.

      • Nope, the anime is based on Blade and Soul. How do I know that? Because I played it before the anime series was a thing (Also that anime was bad)

  • Alan David

    Runescape doesn't even have over 1 million active users right now, this list is dumb.

    Maplestoy has 10x the active players WORLDWIDE than RuneScape does.

    • Flicefer

      '200 million registered users back in 2012' the article doesnt even said that active user right now is 1 million.. dumbass

  • Genos

    I just realized Remo is Omer spelled backward. After all these years omg.