This page goes over the games I’ve had the chance to play over the years, with a focus on the MMO genre. Of interesting note, I have been in the beta for nearly every MMO on this list and have written guides (either for free or for a fee) for the same amount.
Due to the guides, I haven’t really paid for a computer or a monthly access fee in over 10 years.
1997-2001. I made a few thousand dollars playing this game and selling players and houses through eBay.
1999-2003. I played the heck out of this but left when more casual games came around.
1999. I only played a few months of this game. It was fun but buggy back then.
Dark Age of Camelot
2001 – 2002. I enjoyed the RvRvR portion.
2002. I played this for a few months with my friends. The grind burned me out.
Earth and Beyond
2003. Again with friends. Problem with space games is that a) space is empty and b) 3d fighting games outside of an arena suck.
Asheron’s Call 2
2002. I played the free month. AC2 was a horrible game.
Star Wars Galaxies
2003-2005. I played when Jedis were rare, the game was open and before NGE turned it into a different game.
2004. I played a few hours. One of the few games with a rather large barrier to entry.
2003-2004. I played a few months with some old EQ friends. We built a town, it got bugged and we lost all progress, quit a few days after.
City of Heroes
2004. Played a few months. The idea was cool but once you hit max level, there was nothing to do.
2004. Honestly, the system requirements were just too much for me at the time.
World of Warcraft
2004 – . I played beta, wrote a dozen guides, made a few thousand dollars, burned out, quit, came back multiple times.
Dungeons and Dragons Online
2010. I came in during the F2P era from friend suggestions. I put 50$ in the game, as I would a box game. Was a lot of fun but friends moved on, so did I.
Lord of the Rings Online
2006, 2010. I played at launch, which was cool for a bit but slow. I then went back during F2P to see how it played, not much had changed. You really need to love the lore to play this game.
2007 – 2008. I played about 3 months, which was near the amount of time it took for it to shut down. I rather enjoyed it honestly.
Age of Conan
2008. I maxed a couple characters but this game was so buggy and empty at max level, I quit.
2009-2010. This game is/was awesome. A decent combination of sandbox and themepark with challenge. Time was my enemy during this game though, and simply fell to the wayside.
Star Trek Online
2010. This is an outlier as I palyed the beta more than the actual game. Never in my entire Beta experience have I ever seen a more sorry excuse for a game.
2011. In a month, I leveled 5 characters to max and the end game was bugged so we had nothing to do. The gameplay was awesome, the reason to keep playing was not.
2011 – . I still have a sub to this game, it’s currently my favorite MMO on the market. Trion is just an amazing company.
2011. Keen got me looking at this game and I played a lot in beta. Cash stop fiasco made me leave. An interesting study of a game that had such a huge fan base turn on them in a week’s time.
Star Wars The Old Republic
2011-2012. I played the beta for 3 months, the game for 2. Beta wipes meant people could only really test to the 20s, which is a bad sign for any MMO beta. Launch showed there was no end game at all. Turned into F2P after less than a year and is apparently doing well enough now. It’s worth subbing for a month, getting to 50, then just playing the F2P version. A really solid KOTOR3. You can thank this game for making subscriptions a taboo topic due to the massive disappointment. It also ended the careers of the Doctors – Muzyka and Zeschuk – which is a massive tragedy after all the good they brought to the table. Mass Effect 3 + SWTOR have made me boycott every EA game since.
2013-2014. Open beta up until launch. The first game I’ve ever played that was F2P from launch which had a rather interesting mechanic. While extreme use of instances is jarring, it does make for a unified world without servers. The actual mechanics are pretty awesome with an active battle mechanic and limited skill slots. More arcade than strategic, until you reach the end-game.
2013-2014. Well, this is arguably an MMO but I did write a guide for it. Essentially Diablo but with Marvel superheroes instead. Good in small bites. Lack customization from a visual sense but the actual character development and itemization is pretty solid. In Sept 2013, I consider it to be feature ready for the masses. Anyone who played it before then was playing beta. Adds significant content patches on a regular basis, new heroes nearly every month, gives away a ton of stuff if you put in the hours. In my opinion, this is the best value F2P game out today.
Final Fantasy 14
2013. This is the re-run of the original crap launch. This is what a pure MMO looks like and I had a ton of fun playing it. Social tools made sense, crafting was great, dungeons were extremely tactical, decent customization. The housing patch turned me off completely and a lack of time over the holiday period (and work) kept me from playing very long. Well worth it for people to play though, in the top 3 for sure.
Elder Scrolls Online
2014. I personally expected much more from this game. It’s essentially a multiplayer elder scroll games where the multiplayer aspects don’t work. More people actually makes the game worse, in that items don’t scale, phasing is everywhere (except crafting nodes), bots camp most dungeons and a whack of other things. The game is fun if you play it like a single player game – but why pay a subscription fee? There is a ton of content, a few hundred hours worth. I get the feeling that if it was sold as box price and expansions had a cost, this would have been a much better business model. With Wildstar launching ~60 days after this one, it doesn’t bode well.
There are patches and a long term plan for ESO, which includes a complete re-write of end-game content, removing veteran levels altogether. It speaks well that the devs are paying attention but poorly that they didn’t see this as an issue in development many moons ago.
2014. If you take WoW and remove the requirement to hold onto legacy decisions, you would probably end up with Wildstar. A themepark through and through, with a penchant for the surreal art and complex systems, with an active combat system and limited action bar. The skill level is a fair amount higher than in other games, which hopefully triages the people like FF14 did. Given that WoW isn’t for another ~5 months, there’s a much better “sticky” chance here.
There are issues mind you, some class balance issues, item scaling/distribution, PvP balance and a very unhealthy penchant towards raiding. Top level group content is also time intensive – adventures run for 40 minutes, dungeons for an hour or more. The really good news is that they have a rather large content patch every month or so, be it a new zone, a new dungeon, a new BG or just plain balance tweaking.