Despite many criticisms to the contrary, mobile is actually a pretty solid platform for MMORPGs, and for one single reason: It allows gamers to play anytime, anywhere. This ability alone is far more important than fancy graphics or thousands of skills to unlock.

MMORPG is probably one of the most, if not the most, time-consuming genre in video games. Moreover, they constantly receive updates and changes, meaning players can’t really take a break like with single-player games like Civ or Skyrim. Just stop playing for even a few days and when you come back, you will have no idea what’s going on anymore.

So, mobile devices bring a solution to this issue by allowing you to play at any moment. You can now continue to progress while waiting at bus stops, in the bathroom, or during short breaks between classes. Gone are the days when you have to sit in front of a PC for hours every single day for fear of being left behind.

With mobile MMORPGs, we can make progress anywhere

But there was an issue with MMORPGs on mobile: Until recently, there was no title quite comparable to their cousins on PC and console. Order & Chaos was a great pioneer, as it managed to deliver a solid WoW-like experience. However, its sequel was a massive flop, which resulted in the death of the original game as well. Since then, no game has been able to fill the empty space that it left behind.

Order And Chaos
Order And Chaos is an example of what a good MMORPG on mobile is like

There were certainly a couple of strong contenders: MU Origin was pretty exciting at first, but then its  VIP mechanics and auto-play feature made it lose the interest of players in the western markets. Later on there were a few others such as Lineage II: Revolution, Crusaders of Light, and the super underrated Idle Poring.  However, they all suffered from the same issues as MU Origin. Understandably, not many people want to play a game that practically plays itself.

Thankfully, the genre was reinvigorated with the arrival of Old School RuneScape in October 2018. Based on the 2001 browser game RuneScape, this Old School version on mobile deserves the title of “classic”. Even though its mechanics are 17 years old, it still offers tons of fun. In fact, it’s probably better than any auto-RPG to date. The fact that Old School RuneScape manages to do well keeps players hopeful about the future arrival of a mobile MMORPG that can keep them hooked for an extended period of time.

The MMORPG genre as a whole seems to be undergoing a renaissance process. However, developers are looking backward instead of forward for inspiration. World of Warcraft is getting a Classic version that basically reverses the game back to what it was in 2005, and Lord of the Rings Online is doing the same with the upcoming Legendary Server. Yet even though these additions offer little in term of new content, they still highly-anticipated by the community.

Runescape
Old School RuneScape was successful on mobile

Meanwhile, Old School RuneScape and the likes of EverQuest and Lineage II still attract new players, despite the fact that they are far past their sell-by date at this point.

Could more classic MMOs come to mobile

It’s likely that more classic MMOs will follow WoW’s footstep in the near future and launch classic servers to return to their origins. That is certainly not a bad thing, though. If anything, it is actually going to be a welcomed addition. Many veterans would surely love a chance to relive the nostalgia where they are thrown into a vast world and have to fend for themselves.

Sure, Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV are great, but they always feel like they are missing something. Over the past decade or so, MMOs have become more streamlined to appeal to a wider audience, and we’ve forgotten what made us love the genre in the old days.

And the fact that game makers are bringing these games back to their roots puts mobile a unique and advantageous position. Again, take Old School RuneScape for example. Thanks to the platform, the game is currently having more players than it ever did before. Just imagine all the possibilities: EverQuest Mobile, Guild Wars Mobile, World Of Warcraft Classic Mobile, and more.

Everquest
A scene from the original EverQuest

So, developers, take a page out of Old School RuneScape’s book and realize this: we want actually good MMORPGs on our phones, not cheap clones that play themselves.