THE 10 MOST PLAYED MMORPGS IN 2022
Finding the right MMO is like finding that elusive “girlfriend” your mother always told you about. Most of us never will, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. Even despite getting your hopes up repeatedly, only to be shut down just as fast.
Yes, we’re gluttons for punishment but at the same time.. that’s the MMO genre in a nutshell, right? Always waiting, never being satisfied.
Today, I want to talk about the most populated MMOs right now, in March 2022.
There has been a substantial shift in the most populated MMOs over the course of the last year, and we’ve had a significant number of new MMO releases. So I feel this is important to cover.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Yes, The Elder Scrolls Online continues to decline in terms of active players. Not because its a bad game, rather, other games are just.. doing more to engage their players than ESO is.
The Elder Scrolls Online released in 2014, a mere 7 years ago. Seriously, it came out after Black Desert? What? Man, it definitely feels like it’s been out longer than that. ESO is set within an already existing franchise: The Elder Scrolls. You know. Morrowind. Oblivion. Skyrim. Yes, I listed the 3 best in order of best to most overrated.
The Elder Scrolls Online utilizes an action combat system, and provides players with almost endless freedom to craft their character however they like. A robe-wearing, greatsword-wielding assassin. A hulking berserker that runs into combat with a small dagger and teeny tiny little wand, wearing a bikini.
It also has one of the better told narratives within the genre, and that’s mainly due to the fact that it’s an Elder Scrolls game. They’re all about crafting large, gorgeous worlds filled with more content than you have time to consume.
The Elder Scrolls Online reportedly has approximately 200,000 to 300,000 active players per month. A continued decline year after year.
I actually covered this last year, but this is most definitely one of the most unique of circumstances: Star Citizen.. has not released yet. At all. It’s barely functional as it is, after being in development for years.
Yet at the same time, this game has gone on to acquire hundreds of millions of dollars worth of funding. To put this into perspective: Final Fantasy XIV cost $150 million dollars, and Black Desert cost $10 million.
Star Citizen has raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and still has absolutely… nothing to show in terms of a release date. Yet that hasn’t stopped players from playing whatever they can in the form it’s available in.
This is a very incomplete game, with very few fully implemented features. Yet last year they reported that they had – at their peak, hundreds of thousands of active players. Which is some of the most ridiculous numbers I’ve ever seen for an unreleased title that is still so far off from being ready.
MIR4 is an MMO I bet you never expected to see in a list like this, right? There’s no way. This is a poor-quality port of an already poor-quality MMO, yet even so, it has managed to remain one of the 10 most played MMOs in the world. Which is absolutely crazy.
MIR4 released back in 2021, and peaked at almost 100,000 concurrent players.
This game utilizes an auto-combat system, an auto-pathing system, and a more or less auto-gaming system. The game legitimately plays itself, and while you’re required to be present for the more difficult encounters.. the majority of the game is pretty hands-off.
Its unique selling point is the fact that you can earn money by playing it, at its peak, players were earning upwards of $3,000 dollars per month which is absolutely absurd.
Honestly, you’d think New World would be in this top 10 list, even coming in at number 10, but it isn’t. Where New World has a peak of 20,000 players concurrently playing today, MIR4 has over 60,000, with – combining mobile and PC players together, anywhere between 300,000 to 500,000 players playing per month.
I bet this is something you never anticipated seeing: Albion Online in a list of the most played MMOs in 2022.
Albion Online was released back in 2017, and has slowly worked its way up to becoming a largely successful, quality title. This is a sandbox MMORPG that evidently took a lot of inspiration from RuneScape.
As this is a sandbox MMO, you’re given a large amount of freedom over how you decide to play the game. Admittedly, I’ve never dedicated much time to the game as it just doesn’t seem like my type of game, but I’m glad so many other people enjoy it.
The game utilizes a point-and-click combat style, meaning there’s no way of cycling through enemies with the tab-key and no way of attacking enemies freely with an action system. Honestly, this is the only game in this entire list that utilizes this combat system, making it a rarity.
The game is quite minimalistic, aesthetically. It really doesn’t do anything noteworthy to distinguish itself from its competition graphically, but some of the best games are the most basic looking ones, right? Good graphics don’t make a good game. South Korea is proof of that. As are the vast majority of their games.
Last year, the team behind Albion Online set concurrency records, with over 270,000 players being logged in at any given time, bringing the game up to a total of over 600,000 active players towards the end of 2021. And the game has only continued to grow since then.
Black Desert Online
Black Desert Online is generally considered to be the best looking MMORPG to have ever released. It is also considered to be the best playing action MMO to date. With other games trying to, and failing to surpass the sheer dominance of the title.
Black Desert Online released back in 2014. Yes, it has been that long. Almost 8 years in total. Eight. Years. Over the last 8 years, not a single MMORPG released has come close to competing with the game’s dominance over the market in terms of graphics or combat. Unfortunately.
BDO utilizes the best action combat system in the genre, with the only MMOs that come close to competing being TERA or Blade & Soul. It also has the largest open-world you’ll find with not a single loading screen spread over what is hours worth of running from one side of the world to the other.
Unfortunately its narrative is severely lacking, but nobody ever said they play BDO for its story.
While it’s not possible to give exact numbers for BDO’s population, Pearl Abyss claimed in 2020 that they had upwards of 150,000 active players. Yet had seen an increase of over 200% in the year of 2021.
A final announcement towards the end of 2021 went on to confirm a 300% increase in total players, leaving us with what is anywhere between 400,000 to 600,000 active players playing the game per month.
RuneScape / OSRS
RuneScape is.. well, RuneScape. It’s been the same kinda game for as long as I can remember, and that’s part of its charm, y’know?
RuneScape is the oldest title in this list, releasing back in 2001. Yes, it’s really been around for over 2 entire decades. It’s been around longer than many of this generation’s MMO players have been alive – but I guess this is a testament to how good the game must be, right?
RuneScape is an enormous game, with more content than you can realistically dream of partaking of if you’re a new player. People have been playing this game for their entire lives, and have still not completed everything there is in the game.
The game utilizes a tab-target combat system, and has an astonishingly large open world for players to explore. And yes, it looks dated. But that doesn’t inhibit it at all.
Combining RuneScape, Old School RuneScape, and RuneScape Mobile, this game has well over half a million active players per month.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 6 months ago averaged approximately 200,000 to 300,000 active players over the course of an entire month – which is nothing at all to shy away from. That’s still arguably better than 99% of non-MMOs.
Guild Wars 2 was released back in 2012, and has since gone on to become one of the most played free MMOs. More than that, it’s generally considered to have the friendliest community of any MMO online.
It utilizes a hybrid action combat system that has functional underwater combat, and provides depth you won’t encounter outside of it, offering players a variety of different playstyles depending on what kind of weapons you have equipped.
Over the last few years, one issue has remained prevalent within its community: Content releases, while high-quality, were infrequent, and didn’t provide enough content to retain player interest long-term.
Which changed recently, when their latest expansion, End of Dragons launched. Population numbers have been on the incline for the last month in anticipation of going to Cantha, with multiple sources claiming an average of over 100,000 concurrent players playing outside of peak hours, and the overall active playerbase growing by at least 80%.
Guild Wars 2, therefore, is sitting anywhere between 400,000 to 600,000 players for the month of March. Which is a number I don’t think ArenaNet nor NCSoft thought they’d see again.
World of Warcraft
Yes, World of Warcraft is the third most played MMORPG right now. Shocking how the mighty have fallen, right?
World of Warcraft released back in 2004, and up until 2020 was the most populated MMORPG. It was completely unrivaled. Nothing came close to competing with it, especially after WoW Classic launched to critical acclaim – with players having requested a return to Vanilla WoW for years.
WoW utilizes what is arguably the best tab-target combat system in the genre, with games like Aion or ArcheAge being the only MMOs capable of even being considered somewhat comparable.
It features a lore-rich narrative, although the story is so disconnected and disjointed after the repeated retcons made with each and every expansion. And the writers have no idea what they’re doing after Legion, especially in Battle for Azeroth, and furthermore in Shadowlands.
Population numbers aren’t made public, but through a variety of different sources you can get a rough gauge of how the game looks right now – and that is a total of approximately a million active players per month. Give or take a couple hundred thousand.
After the monumental failure of Shadowlands, and the monolithic success of both Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker expansion and Lost Ark.. there’s no doubt WoW is hurting.
Final Fantasy XIV
A mere month ago, Final Fantasy XIV held the crown of “the most populated MMORPG.” After years of living in WoW’s shadow, Final Fantasy XIV obtained the crown. It held the crown for several months, as well, and it was entirely warranted.
Final Fantasy XIV released initially back in 2010, and was such a critical failure that they overhauled the game from the ground-up costing hundreds of millions of dollars. This was the largest undertaking in the entire MMO genre, and paid off, as even months later, active subscribers are higher than any previous expansion several months after it launched.
Final Fantasy XIV utilizes a tab-target combat system, and albeit a little on the slower spectrum for the first 60% of leveling, ends up providing some of the best PvE experiences in the genre.
And unlike the vast majority of MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV allows for players to level every single class on the same character, eliminating any need for alternate characters.
It has what is arguably the greatest told narrative in an MMO – a staple of the Final Fantasy franchise. And at times, even goes as far as feels like a JRPG with multiplayer functionality.
When Endwalker, Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion launched, it launched to higher numbers than ever recorded in the game’s history. Fast forward a few months later, it is still sitting at well over a million active subscribers. Give or take a couple hundred thousand, much like WoW.
As of February, and March 2022, Lost Ark is the most played MMORPG.
Lost Ark launched in North America and Europe in February 2022, and has taken the internet by storm thanks to Smilegate developing a quality MMO filled with content, beautiful graphics and fantastic quality combat.
Lost Ark utilizes a very interesting type of combat, and camera angle for that matter. Which you’ve no doubt come to realize. It’s one of the very few top-down isometric MMOs, with players using their left or right mouse buttons to move their character, and binding your abilities to your letter keys. Keys typically reserved for movement.
The world of Lost Ark is enormous. The land masses are plentiful, and are separated via the large, endless ocean. To navigate to different land masses, you’re required to sail. Actually sail, adding additional layers to an already very unique game.
While Lost Ark has definitely seen its population decline by quite a margin, from 1.3 million concurrent players down to 700,000 over the course of the last month – they’re still much, much higher numbers than any other MMO. There are several million players playing this game – all over the world.
And they’re my 10 favorite action MMORPGs right now. That might change next year when more games actually come out – or – should I say – if when more games come out.
But they’re purely subjective after all. What is your favorite action MMO, or rather, what are your favorite action MMOs? Let me know down in the comment section below – it might help a few people out if they’re unhappy with my list!