GamesWhat is an MMO? MMOs vs. MMORPGS: What's the Difference?

What is an MMO? MMOs vs. MMORPGS: What’s the Difference?

If you’re not part of the MMO community just yet, chances are you’ve come across quite a few MMO gaming terms that you have no idea what they mean. Hell, what even is an MMO? What is an MMORPG? What about MMOFPS games? MMORTS games?

See what I mean? There are a lot of different terms and subgenres in the wonderful world of MMO games. But fear not—I’m here to help you define them all. Below, find out everything you need to know about the MMO genre, what MMORPGs are, and the other types of MMOs/MMO subgenres that are out there.

What is an MMO?

World of Warcraft

Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games refer to a genre that allows a large number of players to interact simultaneously in a virtual world. These games often feature expansive, persistent environments where players can explore, complete quests, engage in player-versus-environment (PvE) or player-versus-player (PvP) combat, and socialize with other players. MMOs encompass various types of gameplay, including role-playing, strategy, and even virtual economies. Popular examples include World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Eve Online. You can find more MMOs to check out with our epic list of all of the known upcoming MMOs.

What is an MMORPG?

Final Fantasy XIV Online Hits Over 10 Million Players

Within the MMO genre, MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) hold a special place. MMORPGs combine the vastness of MMOs with the immersive elements of role-playing games. In an MMORPG, players assume the roles of characters within a virtual world and embark on quests, develop their characters’ abilities and skills, and interact with other players. These games often feature rich storylines, character customization, and persistent progression systems. Well-known MMORPGs include Final Fantasy XIV, The Elder Scrolls Online, and Black Desert Online.


While MMOs and MMORPGs share the foundation of providing a massive online multiplayer experience, there are distinct differences between the two.

Player Roles and Focus

MMOs, in general, offer a wide range of activities beyond role-playing, such as strategy, simulation, and virtual worlds. They may include PvP-focused gameplay or focus more on cooperative gameplay against challenging non-player enemies. In contrast, MMORPGs place a stronger emphasis on character development, narrative-driven quests, and the ability to shape the virtual world through player choices.

Character Progression

Character progression in MMOs can be diverse, with players focusing on different aspects like leveling up, acquiring rare items, or accumulating wealth. In MMORPGs, character progression is typically central to the gameplay, allowing players to customize their characters’ abilities, unlock new skills, and shape their virtual identities over time.

Social Interaction

Both MMOs and MMORPGs foster social interaction among players, but MMORPGs often offer more structured mechanisms for socialization. MMORPGs often provide dedicated player hubs, guild systems, and in-game chat channels, encouraging players to form communities and cooperate on larger goals.

See Also: What’s the Best MMO of all-time?

What is an MMOFPS?

The Division 2

In addition to the genres of MMOs and MMORPGs, another popular variant exists known as MMOFPS (Massively Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter). Combining the immersive elements of first-person shooters (FPS for those keeping score at home) with the expansive multiplayer capabilities of MMOs, MMOFPS games provide players with intense action-packed gameplay in vast online environments. Let’s take a closer look at what defines MMOFPS and explore some notable examples.

MMOFPS games are characterized by their focus on first-person shooter mechanics in a massively multiplayer online setting. Players assume the perspective of a single character and engage in combat against other players in real time. These games often feature large-scale battles, cooperative gameplay modes, and a wide variety of weaponry and equipment. MMOFPS titles typically emphasize skill-based gameplay, fast-paced action, and strategic teamwork.

Some notable examples include Destiny 2, The Division 2, PlanetSide 2, and Warframe.

What is an MMORTS?

total annhilation kingdoms mmorts

An MMORTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy) is a genre that combines the strategic elements of traditional real-time strategy games with the massive multiplayer capabilities of online gaming. In MMORTS games, players control armies, build bases, manage resources, and engage in strategic warfare against other players in real time. This genre offers a unique blend of strategy, diplomacy, and player interaction within a persistent online world.

Some notable examples of MMORTS games include Rise of NationsSupreme CommanderTotal Annihilation: Kingdoms, and Stronghold Kingdoms.

What is an MMOARPG?

diablo iv mmoarpg

MMOARPGs blend the fast-paced combat and action-focused gameplay of action role-playing games (ARPGs) with the massively multiplayer aspect. These games often feature intense combat encounters, character progression, and cooperative gameplay.

Notable MMOARPGs include Path of Exile, Diablo IV, and Lost Ark.

What is an MMO Racing Game?

MMO racing games are online multiplayer games that focus on competitive racing experiences. Players can race against each other, participate in tournaments, customize vehicles, and earn rewards. Popular MMO racing games include The Crew, TrackMania, and iRacing. I’d even call Rider’s Republic, Ubisoft’s MMO BMX/snowboard/wingsuit game, an MMO Racing game.

What is an MMOSG?


MMOSGs emphasize social interaction and player cooperation. These games provide virtual spaces where players can engage in various non-competitive activities, such as virtual world exploration, customization, socializing, and collaborative gameplay. Examples of MMOSGs include Second Life, Habbo Hotel, and VRChat.

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Bobby Bernstein
Bobby is the Co-Owner of Nerd Much?. He's the former Games Editor and current Shopping Editor at, former Editor in Chief of Den of Geek, and former bylines at HiConsumption, Slickdeals,, and more! He is also on Opencritic. He has been writing about nerdy stuff on the web for over 10 years. The best way to reach him is on Twitter.

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