Top 10 Most Popular MMORPGs, Ranked By Total Daily Active Users

These games seem to have the brightest future ahead of them.

final fantasy xiv
Image Source: Square Enix

MMORPGs are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Many have adopted some version of free-to-play, which certainly helps entice players to come in and at least try the game. Given the massive success of MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft, MMORPGs aren’t going anywhere, so let’s take a look at the most popular titles, ranked by their total daily active users.

Note: It’s irregular for companies to publish hard numbers on active daily users for MMORPGs nowadays. Therefore, this list’s rankings are based on data from several different sources, including Steam Charts, online censuses, past population reports, as well as population trackers. In the end, we do have to speculate a little to determine a ballpark for the most popular MMORPGs.

10. EVE Online

most popular mmorpgs, eve online
Image Source: CCP Games

Many MMORPGs opt for a high fantasy setting, which makes EVE Online a standout entry on this list. It follows games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online, taking the genre to outer space for a sci-fi setting.

In 2013, EVE Online managed to reach over 500,000 subscribers. However, due to the decline in popularity, the game added a free-to-play version in 2016. Playing with a free account (known as an alpha account) allows you access to most of EVE Online, but there are limitations. Still, it helped bolster the game’s player base.

EVE Online has been inducted into the Museum of Modern Art, celebrating its accomplishments of the player base. For example, players of one alliance spent eight months building the game’s biggest starship.

9. Black Desert Online

most popular mmorpgs, black desert online
Image Source: Pearl Abyss

From oldest to newest MMORPGs, here is Black Desert Online. It released in Korea in 2015 and made its way over to North America and Europe in 2016. It uses a buy-to-play model in the West and offers microtransactions. Black Desert Online is one of the best-looking MMORPGs on the market, with detailed characters and stellar animations.

Similarly to TERA, it uses an action combat system, and feels similar to Western console RPGs, requiring manual aiming to attack your foes. It translates pretty well on consoles, too.

Given its accessibility on consoles and PC, Black Desert Online keeps a solid, consistent player base. It is unfortunate that PC and consoles aren’t crossplay, though.

8. Old School RuneScape

most popular mmorpgs, old school runescape
Image Source: Jagex

Browser games were a dime-a-dozen back in the early 2000s, and only a few rose above the rest. The undisputed champion was undoubtedly RuneScape.

First off, it was easily accessible. You didn’t need a beefy computer to play. As long as grandma’s computer had a browser with the necessary Java plug-in, you were good to go.

Secondly, it was free-to-play, and had a lot of content to play through. Membership was cool, but not at all necessary aside from accessing a few new skills, member-only areas, and membership-only items.

While RuneScape is no longer played in the browser, it’s still a lightweight and comfy MMORPG, and now its on mobile, too! There’s even more content available for free and subscribed players, and it still has a player base that fluctuates between 80,000 to 100,000 on any given day.

7. Star Wars: The Old Republic

most popular mmorpgs, star wars the old republic
Image Source: BioWare

Wow… Star Wars: The Old Republic is over a decade old. Back before it was released, there was a lot of buzz around SWTOR. BioWare is crafting a story-driven MMORPG? Get me a ticket for that! Its player base may not be what it was on release, but it is by no means dead. In fact, SWTOR has a rather dedicated community and still gets regular updates and expansions.

There’s nothing quite like The Old Republic; it is its own beast. If you’ve ever played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, then you’ll have some idea of what it’s like already. It took that story-driven narrative, including its player choices, and baked it into an MMO. It works surprisingly well, giving players the power to be as social or anti-social as they want.

Of course, the best part of Star Wars: The Old Republic is its available class fantasies. You can be a bounty hunter, smuggler, trooper, imperial agent, and multiple flavors of Jedi and Sith. However, unlike Star Wars Galaxies, Force users aren’t incredibly overpowered (but still very fun to play).

6. RuneScape 3

most popular mmorpgs, runescape 3
Image Source: Jagex

RuneScape has stuck around since 2001, making it even older than World of Warcraft, and the oldest on our list. It’s gone through several iterations, the latest being RuneScape 3, but one aspect that’s never changed: it’s always been free-to-play.

Despite that, there’s quite a lot of content to go through as a free player, while a paid account increases the number of skills that you can level, and expands the number of quests, size of the world, and much more. Either way, there are hours of fun to be had, and that’s just the time you’d spent on a single skill.

While RuneScape isn’t nearly as popular as was in the early 2000s, it still commands a large population of players on its own, entirely separate from Old School RuneScape.

5. The Elder Scrolls Online

most popular mmorpgs, elder scrolls online
Image Source: ZeniMax Online Studios

The Elder Scrolls Online is another of the MMORPGs on this list that used a monthly subscription model at first, but eventually shifted to a buy-to-play model with the release of the rebranded Tamriel Unlimited.

It’s easy to see how The Elder Scrolls Online has reached the popularity that it has, what with it being an entry in the hugely popular Elder Scrolls series, being on consoles as well as PC, only requiring a one-time payment (with optional subscription benefits), and the fact that the developers did a great job of improving the game through updates.

If you’ve played an Elder Scrolls game before, you know what you’re getting with The Elder Scrolls Online. It retains the same choice between third and first-person action combat of prior games, making it very unique amongst MMORPGs.

The massive open world, an abundance of quests, and a large number of different skills to use are all here, too. The newest expansion, Necrom, has just released. It can be accessed with a level 1 character, so now is a perfect time to start your MMORPG adventure in the world of Tamriel.

4. Guild Wars 2

most popular mmorpgs, guild wars 2
Image Source: ArenaNet

Released in 2005, the original Guild Wars was one of the few most popular MMORPGs of the time that didn’t require a subscription fee — just purchase and install the game, and you’re good to go.

Guild Wars 2 followed in its footsteps and managed to reach a peak player concurrency of over 460,000 in August 2013. A couple of years later, a free-to-play version was released, and the game has only grown in popularity since.

The base game allows you to pick between nine different professions, none of which are a dedicated healing class. This alleviates the party restrictions that many MMORPGs have.

Guild Wars 2’s skill system also allows for more flexibility, where players can select a number of different skills from a large pool. Available skills are determined by the player’s race and profession, so you’d be hard-pressed to find another player that matches your exact setup.

3. World of Warcraft Classic

most popular mmorpgs, world of warcraft classic
Image Source: Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft Classic is similar to RuneScape 3 and Old School RuneScape. It’s simply an older, contained version of WoW. Well, more like three versions.

You can stick with the original “vanilla” version or move onto the first and/or second expansion (Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, respectively). The community may not be as large as the latest version, but it’s still a very healthy player count as per MMO-Population and MMO Stats.

If you’ve ever dreamed of days before Cataclysm, WoW Classic is where it’s at. You don’t have to rely on private servers (and the possibility of your character being lost when they inevitably shut down), and if you already have a subscription for the game, Classic is included at no extra charge.

2. Final Fantasy XIV

most popular mmorpgs, final fantasy xiv
Image Source: Square Enix

A comeback story for the ages. Final Fantasy XIV’s initial PC-only launch in 2010 gave us one of the lowest reviewed MMORPGs of all time. It was bug-ridden, had a world that was confusing to navigate, and a terrible UI. It didn’t take long for the population to plummet.

After a complete relaunch, several new expansions, and a console port, Final Fantasy XIV commands a massive player base. Final Fantasy XIV still very much feels like part of the long-running JRPG franchise, with a lengthy and gripping main scenario, and the ability to swap between a whole host of different jobs on a single character.

A Realm Reborn’s combat overhaul makes it less like its predecessor, Final Fantasy XI, and more similar to something like World of Warcraft.

Final Fantasy XIV is constantly growing, with new patches adding substantial content every few months, highly justifying its subscription model. You don’t have to pay monthly to experience the game, however; you can play for free and still access enough of the game to form an opinion. If you’re a fan of the series, but have yet to dabble in MMORPGs, give XIV a shot.

1. World of Warcraft

most popular mmorpgs, world of warcraft dragonflight
Image Source: Blizzard Entertainment

If we’re going to rank the most popular MMORPGs, World of Warcraft is an obvious entry. WoW is the indisputable winner of this MMORPGs popularity contest, with the number of active players sitting somewhere in the ballpark of multiple millions.

Even though it saw a gradual decline of subscribers following the launch of Cataclysm, losing millions of players, it is still the most popular of all MMORPGs.

World of Warcraft continued the story of the popular RTS series Warcraft, but its complete shift in gameplay raked in players who had never touched the series before. It mixes elements of fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction to create a unique world that you, the player, get to live in.

The game has been kicking about since 2004, so there’s plenty of content for you to sink your teeth into. In fact, the most recent expansion, Dragonflight, was released at the end of 2022.

And there you have the most popular MMORPGs ranked by the total daily active users at the time of writing. Which is your favorite? Let us know down in the comments below. We’ve written other similar lists, such as the most popular games ranked by peak concurrent players.

About the author

Jamie Payne

Plays all systems, all genres, all games! Just trying to finish the backlog while keeping up-to-date with new releases.