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What Are the Different Types of Free MMOs?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Although there are a number of Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games that charge a subscription fee, there are also some free MMOs that anyone can play. MMOs are games that are played online, which typically have a persistent world or setting in which different players coexist as they play the game together. Some of the most common types of free MMOs are those games that can be played for free with basic features, but that require a subscription for enhanced features. There are also many games that can be played freely, with no option for a subscription, in which additional content can be purchased through in-game transactions.

Most free MMOs are provided for no required charge to play the game, but still include functions for players to pay money for optional content. Subscription-based MMOs are those games that can be played only by those who pay each month for the game. In these games, all of the content is freely accessible within the game, but the payments are required to even access the servers hosting the game. Free MMOs, however, can typically be accessed without a subscription, but certain features within the game may be unavailable to players without some type of payment.

Many free MMOs are free to play, but offer a subscription to access certain content in the game. In this type of game, a player can make a character and start playing the game, but certain pieces of equipment or options for a character are limited. If the player pays a subscription fee, then these restricted elements are unlocked and become available. These free MMOs can still be played and enjoyed without access to the components of the game that are unavailable, but there can be some noteworthy advantages for players who pay for the game.

Other free MMOs do not have any kind of subscription at all, and instead use a payment method referred to as “micro-transactions” within the game industry. Micro-transactions are items within a game that can be purchased with real money to unlock them as digital assets. For example, in a game set in a fantasy world, there may be a special sword or suit of armor that is only available if it is purchased with actual money. This then unlocks the item in game, and the player who bought it can use it on his or her character.

Many free MMOs have adopted a hybrid of free-to-play with both subscription and micro-transaction options. This creates a game that can be played for free, but with very limited options. Some features may be accessible individually if purchased by the player using real money through a micro-transaction system. The game may have a subscription option, however, that provides players who subscribe with access to the restricted features without paying individually, as long as they are subscribers. Players then decide if numerous options are desired, which makes a subscription worthwhile, or if they only want to purchase a few restricted items.

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