Computer games can take the form of several different genres. For instance, there are first-person shooters, puzzle games, real-time strategy, and role-playing games. With the advent of an accessible Internet and online degree programs, the role-playing game has evolved into a new style, commonly referred to as an MMORPG, or massively-multiplayer role-playing game. This type of game involves hundreds or thousands of individuals gaming together in an online “universe,” central to the game’s theme and lore. One of the first MMORPGs was Everquest, a game developed for the PC in 1999. Since then, the popularity of the genre has inspired numerous additions to the realm of MMORPG, including the modern giant World of Warcraft, currently in its fourth expansion of content and boasting more than 12 million subscribers as of October 2010.
Battling monsters and completing quests are only a part of what you can expect in today’s MMORPG. The more successful titles also offer a system of gathering and crafting professions, allowing users to make their own armor, weapons and potions. Players can band together in groups to defeat the most difficult monsters and scenarios, and join guilds for role-play or social activities. Player versus player content (PvP) where players compete against one another in organized battlegrounds or arenas is also extremely popular, and most games include some form of this type of action.
While many MMORPGs require a subscription fee, others have chosen a “free-to-play” (FTP) model. FTP users pay only an initial price for the license to use the software. Specialty and collector’s items can be purchased from online stores and game websites, allowing for revenue generation for the game developer. MMORPGs can be based on existing stories and worlds, such as Star Wars, Conan and Lord of the Rings, or can be developed for completely new properties as seen in Guild Wars, Aion and Rift.