What is an MMORPG? Outlining Basic Requirements

What is an MMORPG?

What is an MMORPG?

This is an article that looks to define what type of games belong in the MMO and MMORPG genres as far as Android Sloth is concerned. This is not the only definition, and there are definitely people that will disagree with some of the terminology used here.

Let’s begin with the basics. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. That can be broken down into three basic requirements.

  • Massively Multiplayer
  • Online
  • Role Playing Game

All three of these requirements must be met in order for a game to be an MMORPG. There is no shortage of games that meet just two of these requirements and claim to be MMORPGs. Let us start by defining the two easy requirements:


No Connection Error
If you can play it online, chances are it’s not an MMORPG.

The game must be played over the internet. It is that simple. An MMORPG, by definition, must be online.

Role Playing Game

Dragon Project Gameplay
Dragon Project is one of the hundreds of RPGs on Android.

The game must belong to the RPG genre. This one is a bit more nebulous because there are many different types of RPGs, and a lot of games out there have RPG elements. The main thing that RPG games have in common is that players take control of a character (or characters) and these characters gain experience and levels which enhance their abilities. There are variations on this definition, and there are many games that have RPG mechanics and elements from other genres. For the purpose of this definition, only games that have RPG as a primary genre are considered.

Massively Multiplayer

The first two letters are the most important when it comes to MMORPGs. Games cannot just be multiplayer online RPGs, they must be massively multiplayer. That means that dozens (or hundreds) of different users need to be able to interact with each other while in the same persistent world. The the game world has to be around even if the players are not, rather than a new instance of the world being created each time a player wants to do a particular quest or mission.

The world does not have to be open, it can be a group of maps pieces together, but it has to be public. For example, a game like Logres: Japanese RPG is massively multiplayer as there can be dozens of players on the same map at any given time. However, while a game like Forge of Glory: Match 3 MMORPG & Action Puzzle Game does not meet this requirement because players are sequestered to their own little towns and rarely see each other.

Soul Guardians 2 hub
Soul Guardians 2 has crowded hubs, but is it an MMORPG?

There is one last part of the massively multiplayer component that needs to be discussed. That is whether having a hub (such as a town) where dozens of players can all gather and see each other is enough to warrant being called an MMO. This is the case with games like the original Guild Wars on PC, and Bit Heroes on mobile. In these games there is a town where players gather, and then they go explore dungeons that are instanced and only available to them (or their group). This last point is up for interpretation, but for the purposes of this website, having a public hub is not enough for a game to be considered massively multiplayer.


An MMORPG is an online game where players take control of a character they can power up to increase his/her abilities or power. MMORPGs take place in a public, persistent world where players can see and interact with dozens or hundreds of their peers. MMORPGs can have instanced areas that are only available to a single person or party, but they need to have public areas beyond just a city where players gather.

Check out 3 Android MMORPGs that are absolutely worth checking out, and follow @AndroidSloth on Twitter for the latest Android gaming news.