The 10 Most Populated MMORPGs in 2020 - 10 MMOs You Should Be Playing RIGHT NOW!
Sometimes it’s tough being an MMO fan. You guys know what I’m talking about. The sheer amount of disappointment we see on a yearly basis is more than almost any other gaming genre.
And while 2021 definitely has some good looking MMOs coming, I know, like me, you guys are looking for an active, popular MMORPG to spend some time in while you wait to try out all the shiny new games.
We’re pretty much wired to be attracted to games with high populations because not only does it mean that a large percentage of players find the game worth their time, but it’s also a guarantee that it isn’t going to shut down any time in the immediate future, and with all the recent MMO closures.. I feel like we need that safety net.
That’s what we’re here to talk about today. The 10 most populated MMORPGs – 10 MMOs that you can jump into right now, spend hours every day, every week, probably for the next few months if you want to, and enjoy a – hopefully – new experience.
Every game won’t appeal to every person, and I’m sure a lot of you have played several of these at least partially, but I guarantee you, one of these games will satiate that thirst you have either for PvP, end-game raiding, combat or graphics.
Blade & Soul
I’m listing the games starting from the 10th most popular through to the most popular, and starting this list off is Blade & Soul.
Ever since Blade & Soul was released, the game has remained a staple of what action MMOs would need to aspire to if they wanted to enthrall players with their combat system, having what is generally considered by many a fan to have one of, if not the best action combat in an MMORPG.
While the game is down to a mere couple servers, it’s worth noting that the population is still fairly healthy. It doesn’t have nearly as many new players joining as it once did, but the game averages anywhere from 40,000 – 60,000 players active over the course of the entire month.
Granted, many of those players aren’t necessarily logged in concurrently – with only a few thousand players being logged in at any given time, but there is a solid number of players logging in regularly enough to promote competition and provide a sense of life.
Various statistic websites claim upwards of 100,000 active players, with websites that track Asian countries claiming several hundred thousand players, but considering this list is aimed exclusively at Western audiences, since that’s where the majority of our community plays, those aren’t included.
I’ve played through Blade & Soul quite extensively. I have a Hongmoon 22 Zen Archer, and have been at end-game on several different characters over the years. While the game has changed drastically since when I started playing, and the MMO is a very different title now, players still find it highly enjoyable.
To date it’s still a beautiful looking game with fantastic character creation, customization, and the action combat is a lot of fun to play with.
EVE Online was popular back when it was a premium game, but since converting to a free-to-play model, the game has found increased success – maybe not necessarily with the original community of players, but considering an announcement was made earlier this year claiming over 300,000 monthly players, I’d argue it is definitely a success.
This is a game that took the MMO formula and completely threw it out the window. This is nothing like any other MMO you’ve ever played, and I’ll be the first to admit its difficulty.
I played the game a few years ago to test it out, and after spending a few hours in-game I was still so confused that I ended up dropping it. Obviously not every game is for every type of player – and with the little time I have to invest into games, if they require too much research it just doesn’t warrant the time invested.
This is a very unique game, though, that is unlike anything you’ve ever tried out before. At least anything in the MMO scene you’ve ever tried out.
And with the new EVE mobile game that was just announced, you can bet there’ll be even more interesting in the coming months.
Star Wars The Old Republic
Star Wars The Old Republic is a bit of an interesting case. It has never truly been as large as some of the other games here, averaging 130,000 or so active players each month but that has definitely taken a drastic turn as of the last few months, with the game launching onto Steam and having new life breathed back into it.
Since launching onto Steam, we’ve seen the player population more than double, raising to anywhere between 275,000 – 320,000 monthly players. With tens of thousands of players actively playing concurrently via Steam, and tens of thousands of players playing via the official launcher, the game has never felt more alive.
While The Old Republic definitely looks and feels a little more dated than some of the titles on this list it’s worth noting that a great looking game doesn’t mean a game will actually be great. Look at Anthem or Crucible.
Star Wars The Old Republic utilizes a pretty traditional tab-target combat system and provides players with large worlds to explore, but the real bulk of the game comes in its story, which is woven so beautifully into the world, providing infinite choices and branches for players to explore.
I’ve never truly gotten far enough into the game, but it remains one of Mrs Stix’s favorites to date.
Black Desert Online
Love or hate Black Desert Online, you cannot argue the impact it has had on this genre over the last couple years nor the popularity it has amassed as one of, if not the most “beautiful MMORPG” and having the “best combat in an MMORPG.”
While the aesthetics of a game and the combat styles are completely subjective, there’s no denying how many people actively play the game.
I went around Googling, and saw that there were a few different websites claiming that there were over 2,000,000 active players playing BDO each month and I can say with certainty that this is a gross overestimation.
While the game is definitely very highly populated, at over 400,000 monthly active players, it’s far from closing in on World of Warcraft.
I’ve found myself coming back to Black Desert on occasion, purely because at its core it’s a very fun game, but the lack of direction and end-game PvE outside of grinding always left me wanting more out of it than I ultimately ended up getting.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is definitely a little more difficult to get an accurate gauge of. This used to be one of the kings of the MMO genre, averaging as many active players as The Elder Scrolls Online or Final Fantasy XIV.
And don’t take this as me claiming it’s in any way in bad shape, but the game has definitely declined quite a bit from the titan it once was, averaging approximately 450,000 to 500,000 active players each month.
I’ve always been a fan of Guild Wars 2, I streamed it years ago back when I first started the channel, and this was one of the games I regularly covered. It was an MMO that started off as a buy-to-play title then changed business models to free-to-play with paid expansions.
Opening the game to so many new people, that likely still actively play to this day. And with the new expansion announcement – players are coming back to re-acquaint themselves with the game.
This is a game that actively pushes players to play together at all levels of play, syncing one another to zone-appropriate brackets to prevent power creeping – something that I’d always found interesting.
Add onto that its great quality hybrid action combat style, its large segregated world and a ton of great content to consume, this has always and likely will always be one of my 5 favorite MMOs.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Honestly, I never really got into The Elder Scrolls Online until recently, when we began streaming the game over on Twitch. And it’s a lot more enjoyable than I remember it being.
I’ve always been a fan of the Elder Scrolls games, I wasted over a thousand hours in Morrowind back on Xbox back in the day, and another thousand or two on PC with mods years later.
And after playing through some of the Greymoor DLC I can see why players are still so fond of the title. ESO has always been highly populated – it’s one of the kings of the genre after all. However it’s definitely declined a little over the last couple years.
While it used to be in direct competition with Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV, it now sees itself falling behind averaging approximately 500,000-600,000 active players per month, which is very evident if you play the game. The sheer number of players actively out playing in the world is more than I see in most other games.
One thing that’s always bothered me about the game is its combat system though, and that’s something I’ve noticed is becoming more apparent the more I play through it. But then I know that’s a common complaint among the community.
This is an MMO that I cannot wait to play through more, as it is one of the few games I truly think is captivating enough with its world and its story to keep me playing long-term.
Okay, don’t hate me for saying this, but I’ve never really been too big a fan of RuneScape. Not because I think it’s a bad game by any means – neither RuneScape 3 nor Old School RuneScape, but because I’ve always just been a huge fan of other games and couldn’t dedicate nearly enough time to it.
Nevertheless, it has remained one of the most populated MMOs on the market for as long as I can recall averaging 150,000 players online concurrently, and over 600,000 monthly active players.
It was the #3 most populated MMO until recently, and will likely retake the spot by the end of this year, maybe beginning of next year.
While RuneScape is definitely a very dated looking MMO, it provides so many different things to do that players never get bored – and the sheer number of updates it receives every year is astonishing.
Its tab-target combat is a little slow but it more than makes up for it with the world and freedom – more than almost any other MMO out there. If only I could find the time to actually invest into it though..
Phantasy Star Online 2
Phantasy Star Online 2 has knocked RuneScape out of the top spot recently with their launch onto XBox One, the PC via the Microsoft Store, and then onto Steam as well, bringing total monthly players up to anywhere between 700,000 – 800,000 active players.
While this will no doubt decline quite significantly over the next 6 months, it’s definitely shown exactly how popular the PSO2 IP is, crossing 2 million total registered players earlier this month – and honestly that’s one of the reasons we’re receiving a brand new PSO2 game next year: New Genesis.
If the game had rolled out onto PS4 as well, we’d likely see the game be a direct competitor for Final Fantasy XIV, but alas, PS4 fans will have to continue to wait.
I’ve invested hundreds of hours into PSO2 over the years, both the Japanese version and the North American – or, now Global version of the game.
I’m looking forward to New Genesis as it’s set to completely overhaul the action combat system, the graphical system, and bring PSO2 into the next generation of MMO gaming. And it looks phenomenal.
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is one of my 2 favorite MMOs of all time, and coincidentally happens to be one of the 2 largest MMOs of all time – only increasing in population with each expansion. As an example: Heavensward pre-orders were at 780,000, Stormblood pre-orders were at 880,000 while Shadowbringers pre-orders hit almost 1,500,000.
The total number of registered players was at 18,000,000 as of December 2019, while a few months ago they announced the game had crossed 20,000,000 unique players.
Although do note this isn’t the confirmed number of active players, even despite some of you believing so. You won’t believe how many players come into the comments stating “Final Fantasy XIV has 14, 18, 20 million players. It’s the most popular MMO ever!!!!”
Like, believe me, this is one of my favorite games, man. I love it, but I’m not a fool that believes it’s more populated than WoW. Earlier this year it was reported that Shadowbringers had well over 1,200,000 active players playing – an all time high for the game.
While numbers have definitely declined a little since then, with the recent patch that just dropped, and the end of the Shadowbringers expansion content, it’s a safe bet to conclude at least 800,000 – 1,000,000 active players playing monthly.
With the next expansion coming out in the middle of next year, you know for a fact that’s going to spike even more the closer we get to the release and announcement.
I know some people claim the tab-target is bad, but I’m perfectly fine with it, and love the graphical style, the large open world and one of the best stories in an MMO.
World of Warcraft / WoW Classic
World of Warcraft is a little more complex since I’m putting both WoW and WoW Classic together. One subscription counts for both games, so it seems obvious to, right?
WoW has been the king of the genre for many years. There’s no denying that. And if you’d asked me earlier this year what I thought the population was, I’d probably say it was at the lowest point it’s been at ever since its inception.
However, with the announcement of Shadowlands earlier this year, and closing in on its release in the next few months and its pre-patch overhauling the entire leveling experience, that’s no longer a reality.
In fact, if we combine the active player numbers for WoW, which are anywhere between 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 at this point with the 600,000 – 800,000 active players for WoW Classic, we get anywhere between 2,500,000 – 3,500,000 active players playing World of Warcraft in some form right now.
Yes, even Warlords of Draenor at its lowest point had 4,000,000 active players, and Legion had significantly more than this, but I guarantee you they’re trying their utmost to turn this around.
To me, WoW still has the best tab-target combat in an MMO, and one of the most lore-rich worlds filled with an almost unparalleled number of things to do.
While Battle for Azeroth may not have been a great expansion, the number of pre-orders for Shadowlands is through the roof and we’ll see WoW at over 10,000,000 active players again soon! However long that lasts.
Regardless of your thoughts and opinions on each individual MMO, there’s no denying that the genre is still alive and kicking, having millions, tens of millions of players still actively playing across a large number of different titles.
Yes the genre has definitely stagnated over time, that’s very evident, but it in no way means it will remain in such a state. We’ve got plenty to look forward to in 2021, and have a lot of great games to still occupy ourselves with right now.
Hopefully you can find solace in one of these games, knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of other players readily available to journey with, to grind with, to raid with, to engage in PvP.
You’ll find Mrs Stix and I in several of them, and you’ll also find us streaming them over on Twitch if you wanna come and become part of the family!