We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Sandbox MMO?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Sandbox Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are typically developed to give as much freedom and creative control to players as possible. Much like other MMOs, these are persistent environments and usually have a digital world in which characters can be made. The major element that sets a sandbox MMO apart from other types, however, is the level of freedom and control that players are given; they are allowed to make the game into what they want it to be. In these types of MMOs, characters often have a great deal of freedom to advance in various ways and players are left to find their own way in the world.

There are varying degrees of freedom that can be allowed in a sandbox MMO, and some proponents of this sub-genre prefer it to be absolute. This would require that players are able to make characters and interact with the world in any way they see fit. The creation of new content and environments within the game and character advancement along undefined routes would all be welcome aspects for any sandbox MMO. Many of them, however, do not have quite this level of freedom, though they can come close to it.

In a sandbox MMO, characters often use an advancement system that is similar to other games, but is more “open.” Many games allow players to choose a “class” for a character that defines their role within the world. A sandbox MMO, however, typically allows a player to make a character and then defines his or her role through gameplay and choices made while playing.

Similarly, the freedom to explore and experience a game in any way the participants see fit is a major element within a sandbox MMO. While there may still be quests and missions for characters to complete, the way in which they are done can be far more open to creative thinking. Players are typically free to come up with an idea and then try to do it within the game. Some people may prefer to find large monsters and slay them, while others are content to build houses and player cities that are then populated by the various characters within the game. This is where the name comes from, as players are meant to be free to do what they want, like they are playing in a sandbox.

In contrast to this, “theme park” MMOs, feature characters that are often much more restrained. Much like an actual theme park, there are often “attractions” or events that players are directed toward in their game experience. Roles for characters are usually more defined and the developers exert more control over the world of the game. Neither type of MMO is superior to the other; they are simply designed with different philosophies.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By pastanaga — On Oct 09, 2014

@browncoat - It just comes down to what you'd prefer to do in a game. I never thought I would like sandbox games but when I tried Skyrim (which isn't sandbox, it's just open-world) I found myself getting frustrated by the limited options for building and decorating your house.

And the nice thing about an MMO is that you could show off whatever you make to lots of people, rather than just making it for yourself alone.

By browncoat — On Oct 09, 2014

@Fa5t3r - Very few sandbox games have no objectives at all. The point of them is not necessarily to remove objectives, but to allow players to choose whether or not they want to complete the objectives and to pick and choose the elements of the game they are interested in.

Some people like being able to create whatever they like in a game, like in Minecraft where you can pretty much build anything.

And MMOs are a perfect way to play in a true sandbox world, because you can collaborate to make really elaborate stuff that wouldn't be possible if you were just playing by yourself.

By Fa5t3r — On Oct 08, 2014

I've always been a little bit negative about sandbox MMOs because they seemed rather pointless to me. I like having an adventure in a game, like a story being told to me, and if you have to create your own adventure from scratch you might as well be wandering around in real life.

I do like them if there is more of a quest system in place, but I guess I also just like my games to have a solid beginning and ending, even if you can keep playing after you've completed all the quests.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.