In the early days of MMORPG’s, the pay to play model was quite commonplace. In fact it was the accepted standard model of the industry. Before you could play the game, you first had to run to your favorite shop and pay $50 or so for the game and then you had to sign up for a subscription that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.99 to $14.99 per month. This quickly became the staple monetization method for online roleplaying games everywhere as more and more games were released at the genre’s popularity soared to new heights.
However, in recent years, new models have arisen in the MMO world that have slowly began to take the place of this traditional pay to play (P2P) model that has been used for so long in the industry. These new models used a buy to play (B2P) mode or a free to play (F2P) mode that has drastically altered how video game companies make money from their creations. In these new modes, the games are free to play although they often come with some handicaps if the company also offers a subscription service. Some even come with a marketplace that allows you to purchase upgrades for your character for real money as opposed to earning it in game from rewards, crafting, or purchasing with end game currency. If you would like to find a good F2P game, check out our Best Free to Play MMORPG’s of 2015 list.
Over time, the F2P model has become the most popular way for video game companies to monetize their games as they sell more digital goods than ever allowing them to make even more money from players off their creations. However, P2P games do still exist and, in many ways, these games offer some of the best play experiences of all of the available MMORPG’s on the market. These games are often more polished and contain less bugs today as customers expect more from a game that they must pay for in order to log in and play.
Today, we look at some of the best pay to play MMORPG games available this year to help you make the right choice for the next game you want to play.
One cannot talk about MMORPG’s without talking about World of Warcraft, and whether you like it or hate it, it helped change the face of MMORPG’s forever and remains the king of MMO’s even today years after its release. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the game, but it does do everything it does have well. Set in the classic Warcraft Universe carefully crafted by writers at Blizzard, there is plenty of Lore for this fantasy world to immerse you for hours upon hours. Gameplay is smooth and well balanced and the game has been designed to cater to casual players and hardcore gamers alike. Perhaps this is why it garnered millions upon millions of subscribers and truly brought the genre of MMORPG’s into the mainstream as many people who never played games before created a Night Elf or Gnome and began their adventure.
Not everyone loves fantasy games even though they seem to be the most popular worlds created by MMORPG makers. There are tons of sci-fi fans out there. Because of this, EVE Online has found a home. EVE Online is a little different than many MMO’s today. It won’t hold your hand. A sandbox MMO, you are set out on your own to find your way after a short tutorial, and the world of EVE can be a cruel one. You see, EVE Online is open PVP meaning you can have your ship blown up at any time, although some areas are safer than others. However, the game has its rewards as well as you can engage in some of the most epic fleet PVP battles with hundreds or even thousands of ships as your corporation seeks control over resources and territory. EVE Online can be a notoriously slow game as well as it can take hours to travel from one side of the galaxy to the other. But if you’re patient and love the idea of flying your own spaceship, EVE could be the game for you.
Price: Not Yet Determined
Most definitely the newest game on our list because this game isn’t even out yet, but it is definitely worth mentioning here. Camelot Unchained is the spiritual sequel to the classic realm versus realm PVP MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. As such, it is sure to provide some of the same gameplay mechanics that fans of the series have grown to love and still play to this day. Not much is really known about the game or how much it will cost, although at least for now it has been said that there will be a monthly subscription for this game. If you love the classic Arthurian legends or you were a fan of Dark Age of Camelot, Camelot Unchained could be the next game for you looking to upgrade your MMO experience to a modern level.
You can’t talk about RPG’s without taking the time to give a shout out to the Final Fantasy series designed by Square Enix. Whether single player or multiplayer, the Final Fantasy series has captured the hearts of gamers and revolutionized the genre helping make it what it is today. Final Fantasy XIV lives up to that reputation providing a new engaging world to explore in true Final Fantasy style. With a mix of unique races and outstanding graphics, Final Fantasy XIV can easily pull you in and will create an engaging experience that will keep you coming back for more. In true FF style, you can play some of the iconic classes found across the series including Paladins, White or Black Mages, or my favorite, the Dragoon. Whatever path you choose, you are sure to find hours of fun from this Final Fantasy.
If EVE Online moves at to slow a pace for you but you still want to fly a spaceship, then you should have a look at Vendetta Online. The gameplay is different from most MMO’s in that it is twitch based, so if you don’t have fast reflexes, you could find your ship destroyed. The game is more forgiving than EVE Online at least, but still you could find yourself losing a lot of battles if you are prepared to move fast in combat scenarios. The graphics are no match for EVE, but are still offer enough detail and beauty to be engaging for anyone looking to pilot their own ship into battle.
Another game for science fiction fans out there, Wildstar offers ground based combat on a fictional planet. Designed in many ways like other MMO’s out there, you can level your character from 1 to 50 with quests, killing monsters and dungeon raids. What makes Wildstar unique is the graphics. The art style is fun and unique like nothing you have ever seen in an MMO before. The animations and movements of your characters are entertaining while the gameplay is fun and challenging offering a rewarding experience for someone who prefers the classic ground based combat of fantasy MMO’s but wrapped in a science fiction wrapper.
While getting on in years, Dark Age of Camelot offers hands down one of the best realm versus realm PVP settings every to grace MMOs. It is because of this and its dedicated team constantly adding content and fixing any problems that arise that it continues today with a subscription even though it is starting to age. Set in a medieval setting, you create a character in a world following the death of King Arthur. While there is PVE content, the main focus of this game is the realm versus realm PVP content. These battles and skirmishes have kept players coming back for years now and it show no signs of slowing down. Things may change when its spiritual successor, Camelot Unchained, is released. But even then I suspect that many people will still gravitate back toward the classic battles offered by Dark Age of Camelot.
Ultima Online was one of the first MMORPG’s and is credited with help popularizing the genre allowing it to grow into what it is today. Basically, without Ultima Online, there would be no World of Warcraft or any of the others, for that matter. Believe it or not, this game is still running today. While its subscribers are no where near the numbers when it was at its peak, there is still a healthy population and plenty of fun to be had. The graphics have been overhauled but even still are dated compared to modern MMORPGs. But, this game is almost 20 years old and is still finding success with a paid subscription. That should say something about the gameplay. If you enjoy a fantasy setting and an open, sandbox world that can be cruel, this game could be for you.
Wait a minute, doesn’t Star Wars: The Old Republic have a free to play option? Why yes it does. So why did I include it on this list? Simple. The free to play options in SWTOR handicap your characters and game so much that it can actually be difficult to play, especially if you are a power player. To really get the most enjoyment out of this game, you need to pay a monthly subscription. That being said, SWTOR is one blast of a game as you get to take on the role of a a light side or dark side Jedi or Sith and follow the story that is affected by your decisions every step of the way. The gameplay is well done and there is nothing quite like wielding your own lightsaber and dueling to the death with our opponent.
Like SWTOR, The Elder Scrolls Online began life as a subscription based MMO and has since converted to a buy to play model with an optional subscription. The game requires an up front investment but after that you don’t have to pay a dime if you don’t want to. However, there are still benefits to paying a monthly subscription including bonuses to character progression, in game money and access to all of the DLC game packs. Set in the Elder Scrolls universe, players create characters in the world of Tamriel and must struggle against Molag Bal. The game is indirectly connected with all of the other games in the Elder Scrolls universe although ESO is set centuries before many of the games in the series. One of the newest MMO’s on our list, The Elder Scrolls Online provides one of the most modern MMO games you can find with stunning graphics and gameplay. If you are a fan of the Elder Scrolls series, ESO is definitely worth a closer look, whether you choose to sign up for the subscription or not.
All of these games offer a top of the line gaming experience making them well worth the money you must invest. Remember, there was a time when ever MMO would cost you about $15 bucks a month just to play and while you may be hesitant to pay a monthly fee just to play, you can often find one of the best monthly play experiences you could have for less than it would cost you to go to the movies for two hours.
The P2P model is definitely a fading monetization strategy for MMO’s as each year more and more MMO’s are released as F2P or convert from a P2P model to a F2P model. That being said, when you are paying a monthly fee for your MMO experience, you can expect to have access to some of the best content and most polished game on the market. So the next time you are looking for a new massively multiplayer online roleplaying game to play, don’t discount those that require a monthly fee. You could find that these games will bring you hours upon hours of fun as you explore the vast worlds that have been created for your enjoyment.
So now might be the right time to look at a new gaming laptop to ensure that you can enjoy your favorite MMORPG. Check out our Best Cheap Gaming Laptops Under $500 guide or our Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000 guide where you might find your next gaming laptop.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.