A couple of months ago, I looked at how various MMOs stacked up against each other, in terms of how much traffic their websites got – a reasonable enough way to determine general activity and populariy. Today, I’m again going to the charts, courtesy of Alexa, to see how the top free-to-play MMOs are doing.

The general short-term trend: not so good. Nearly everybody’s down over the past few weeks, which I’d attribute mostly to “Hey, it’s summer, let’s go outside,” which I somewhat sarcastically believe proves that there are very few MMO players in Texas or Arizona, where “outside” means “no AC.”

Taking a look at the longer view gives you a better idea of the reach of these games and some of their peaks and valleys, which I’ll go into individually:

Wizard101

Don’t underestimate KingsIsle Entertainment’s kid-friendly juggernaut. With over 30 million registered players and a legion of devoted fans, it’s probably the biggest F2P MMO in North America.

If it’s true that the kids are finally being pushed out of the house in July, it’s also likely that, immediately after school obligations ended in late May/early June, they spent more time playing video games and vaulting the game’s stats into orbit.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR keeps chugging along, or at least it did until its recent dip. For a game that many people – myself included – wrote off after its tumultuous first year, it’s done fairly well since its F2P switch… at least as compared to games that cost a fraction to make. Whether it ever recoups BioWare’s and EA’s investment is a question that will linger for years, but at least it’s not a total embarrassment any more.

Pirate101

KingsIsle’s second ship is sailing along nicely, even being on par with its bigger cousin in May. Two new worlds were added to the game on May 24, and their pre-release hype probably helps explain the slight surge. Is its recent dip part of the overall “summer blues”? Or is it sinking back to its pre-update levels?

Rift

It’s easy to pick out both peaks in Rift’s line from when F2P was announced (early May) and when it went into effect (June 12). And while it may look like the move hasn’t had much effect, if you look closely, you can see that Rift is still doing about twice as well as before it went F2P. That’s typical for an MMO in the first couple months after making the F2P switch.

Aion

Aion continues to chug along, and is just about the only game to experience a rise in its traffic during the month of July. All the 4.5 info coming out should only help push it up higher.

But what about…?

These are, as best as I could think of, the top five free-to-play MMOs, according to the Alexa rankings. Here are four other well-known titles, compared to Rift:

As for Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and other Perfect World games, I can’t track them using Alexa. Since their domains are in the form xxx.perfectworld.com, Alexa can only give me the information for perfectworld.com and not per game subdomain. If I had to guess, I’d say NW would be in the top five, at least in the months following its “release,” though whether it will stay there is anyone’s guess, and STO would probably be hanging out with the games in the chart directly above.

I’d bring up RaiderZ, but that might just enrage our EU fans…

26 Readers Commented

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  1. Duskbot on August 6, 2013

    I kinda have to disagree with some of these games being so called “best” free mmo’s i mean there are more popular games with bigger communities I just feel like throwing Wizard 101 and Pirate 101 on there were kinda hasty and more for the “kid” friendly community here on here but it just seems like there are better f2p games I mean what about GW2 (guildwars) or others like that idk maybe its just me but i don’t really like to throw these kid games into the list but yeah great job on the chart and information.

  2. blablabla on July 27, 2013

    Here’s a reason: ALL MMOS I HAVE EVER PLAYED SUCKED
    With 1-2 exceptions out of 1000

    • stlazn on July 31, 2013

      i wouldn,t say just 1-2 maybe like 5-6 :I

  3. v3ss0n on July 26, 2013

    Jason Winter , I am a Data Scientist and CTO of a small Data Analytics team .Those statistics work very well for Websites but it won’t work for Games. To be actually useful You need to measure Login and Play Time.

    For example PS2 , many player can’t play since last patch due to crashes , very high end system , My top notch 1800$ Gaming Laptop can’t even play 15 mins. So everyone have to just Rage at forums and that will increase Page hits.

  4. Klein on July 26, 2013

    I think the activity of the games are low, because people have watched SAO. SAO is the perfect MMORPG, and dev companies really need to learn from it, or make one. I’m serious about this though. I watched SAO again recently and it got me back into MMO’s but it has also made my taste pickier, ie; only liking certain MMO’s that are sort of like SAO or ALO. That wouldn’t be the only issue though, MOBA’s have been taking players by storm.

    Side Note: I can’t wait for a VRMMORPG, and if you couldn’t tell, I’m a SAO fan. Just look at my name. 😛

    • Dustweaver on August 15, 2013

      Yeah, that’s what happened to me. My gaming life has screeched to halt since I watched SAO.
      SAO/ALO are the MMOs I’ve dreamed of for years. For some reason I cant seem to settle on a current MMO game that I like now.

  5. anip on July 26, 2013

    This is only based on Website visits…

    Where as most gamers tend to just launch and play the game, rarely do they visit the websites.

    Like only 30% of playerbase visits websites after they started playing the game.

    • Jason Winter on July 26, 2013

      Sure, so if 30% of a game with a million players visit the site, that’s 300,000 visits.

      If 30% of a game with 100,000 players visit the site, that’s 30,000 players.

      It’s still a 10x difference.

  6. legit4life on July 25, 2013

    when will blade and soul come to english

  7. sniperman248 on July 25, 2013

    However these charts hardy prove anything as they are highly inaccurate as to how many a game truly has in a month, so pretty much these charts prove nothing

    • Sindicato on July 25, 2013

      Sorry man bit I think you are wrong, if you see most of the time players go into this websites they seek registration, community in game, and technical problems. Based on this only it would have an idea or at least a theory of how many games are playing in-game.

      Think before you say something…

      • Bic Boi on July 30, 2013

        If you’re going to state that then SWTOR is exempt from this analysis since F2P players cannot post the forum and have very little reason to access the website overall, yet there are tons in-game. Only subscribers are able to post and make up the majority of the activity but that’s not to say that they are the only reason for the website and forum hits.

  8. some random scottish guy on July 25, 2013

    People visit game websites / forums for all sorts of different reasons, so I hardly see what your trying to achieve with this information, no offense.

    Take for example Path of Exile, A large amount of there player base use the forums for trading. So how could one make comparison with another website who gets there traffic from not trade forums but rather to check on updates in the game recently or some other reason.

    Another example would be neverwinter, a large amount of that community visit the forums to troll or complain about one thing or the next.

    Some other games may require you to log in to there web site before you can play there game, that’s yet again more traffic but for complete different reasons.

    This info has nothing to do with how popular a game is, and can not be taken seriously.

    • NobleNerd on July 25, 2013

      The logic is sound here. This is like comparing how many people buy tide based on their website or facebook traffic….. not very accurate at all. I do not play Neverwinter anymore, but I log into the website at least 2 times a week to see what big mess of non-D&D failure they are releasing next.

    • Jason Winter on July 26, 2013

      I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t perfect, and that one game tracking slightly ahead of another doesn’t mean much. If one game shows 5x as much traffic as another, though, that’s probably significant. I specially included client-launched games only, not games that require you to visit the site to play (except possibly for initial registration).

      You’re right, a lot of NW players and ex-players probably do visit the site to complain about it on the forums, but how is that different from Rift players, LOTRO players, PlanetSide 2 players, etc.? Unless there’s a reason to think that any one game gets visitors to its websites at a far different rate than another’s then what’s the difference? A lot of games have Trading Forums, and unless PoE’s is especially active, then there’s not much point in singling them out.

  9. sethsamson on July 25, 2013

    magicman where are u ……????

  10. yep on July 24, 2013

    I also think its due to the lack of beta games comming out. It just gets boring playing 1 game over and over with nothing to compare it to.

  11. yerp on July 24, 2013

    I think its due to lack of beta games comming out as well. This is just me personally, but the more beta games i get into the more I appreciate the games then go back and play.

  12. jiglymuffin on July 24, 2013

    What about MOBA’s like Smite, LoL and DOTA 2 ?

    • Jason Winter on July 26, 2013

      Good point… maybe I should do up a similar article on those, though I might have to give LoL its own separate chart, it’s probably miles above everything else.

    • dirtyzerg on July 28, 2013

      dota 2 tells u how many unique players it has a month, right now its sitting at like 4.2m for july

  13. MorbidDesire on July 24, 2013

    Fur. Fiesta online gets a new “Hero” class tomorrow.

  14. DinoLove on July 24, 2013

    Love it! I love these small articles everytime they pop up:)

  15. AWESOME! on July 24, 2013

    Im actually not surprise about it because more people would go on a vacation than there is school days so yea more people would actually spend time with their family than playing MMO’s so not really that surprising after a month or when the school year starts again the MMO’s would pick up and again…

    • Skize on July 24, 2013

      Doubt it. There’s too many mmo’s of the same thing with various, but minimal differences. Unlike in Asian countries, people tend to be very fickle when it comes to mmo’s. So if it gets boring, people bail.

  16. Gamer X on July 24, 2013

    Thanks for the news … hmm interesting..

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