While MMORPGs used to have their place mainly on the PC, many games are now being released entirely for mobile or at least offer crossplay to the smartphone. While this trend tends to deter many fans, MeinMMO editor Alexander Leitsch is becoming more and more impressed by mobile MMORPGs.
Just a few years ago, I was a staunch PC gamer myself who couldn’t imagine playing on my smartphone. “This is just a place where Peggle or Candy Crush is played, not for real gamers,” you would have heard me call out. But at least since I became a father, I see the situation a little differently.
As a baby, my daughter liked to sleep on my stomach for hours at a time, and even today she still needs someone to help her fall asleep. It’s just that it’s difficult to take my gaming PC into her children’s room, but my smartphone is. In addition, you are always on the go, to visit friends or family, and you rarely get to your home PC.
So now I play MMORPGs on my smartphone almost every day. Admittedly not the games with dull autoplay, but primarily RuneScape and occasionally Albion Online. And for me, these titles are prime examples of how to make good mobile MMORPGs.
And I’m not the only one playing games on my smartphone. In 2021, 23.5 million people in Germany alone played games regularly on their cell phones (via game). On the other hand, “only” 14.3 million play on the PC. Internationally, things look different again, especially in Asian and South American countries. Smartphones dominate here.
Who is speaking here? Alex is the MMORPG expert on MeinMMO. He’s put in hundreds and thousands of hours in games like Guild Wars 2, ESO, Black Desert, and New World. Lately he’s been playing more on his smartphone, which is where this column came from.
All mobile MMORPGs are pay2win, autoplay and stupid anyway!
For years, more MMORPGs have been released for smartphones per month than for PCs in a year. Games like Lineage W generate 8x more revenue than 3 major PC MMORPGs combined. And big companies like Blizzard with Diablo Immortal or Riot Games with LoL Wild Rift have jumped on the mobile train in recent years.
But mobile MMORPGs in particular have a bad reputation, and not without reason. Many titles rely on aggressive monetization, with which you can jump over artificially integrated time barriers or simply buy great advantages in the shop – i.e. Pay2Win.
I myself tried three new games in the Play Store in December, which didn’t mean anything to me from the name, but got more than 4.5 stars from more than 10,000 reviews. And my goodness – all three were a disaster. They all relied on autoplay, they all had a shop with real Pay2Win, one with potions that simply give you 10% more stats or more damage…. class!
But high-quality mobile MMORPGs with crossplay to other platforms are the future, I am firmly convinced of that. And with RuneScape, I’m just realizing how well that can work.
I do many quests, simple fights, and collecting and crafting while lying in bed. Difficult tasks, on the other hand, are completed on the PC when I have a larger screen, mouse and keyboard in front of me.
And I could imagine this concept for many MMORPGs, because in almost every game there are tasks that could easily be done on a smartphone.
PC first, mobile second
The important thing is that developers think of their PC community first. There must be no autoplay and no Pay2Win. There must be challenging content, for example in the form of challenging dungeons and raids or large PvP battles. Many Asian MMORPGs have done it the other way around, such as Odin: Valahalla Rising, which will also be released for the PC, but also offers autoplay there.
There’s a reason I’m currently playing RuneScape and Albion Online on my smartphone. Both first appeared for PC and then released mobile versions. With great success, especially for RuneScape. The franchise celebrated record profits and player numbers thanks to Steam and mobile releases.
How does Albion Online play on smartphone? Look in this video:
But it is precisely this path – PC first, mobile second – that Western developers now seem to be following more closely. A prominent example is Pax Dei, a new sandbox game that will first appear on Steam to later become a cloud MMORPG playable on consoles and mobile.
More than a quarter of all 59 PC MMORPGs currently in development have already announced a mobile version. And that’s exactly what I like. Because if I can play my favorite MMORPG on multiple platforms, I can put even more time into the game.
How do you feel about mobile MMORPGs? Do you have your own games that you think are really good, or should MMORPGs only be released for the PC? Feel free to write it in the comments.
We have collected the currently best mobile MMORPGs here:
The 9 Best Mobile MMORPGs of 2023 for iOS and Android