Why Pay for WOW? Check Out These Free MMORPGs

MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, a phrase so cumbersome to type or say that everyone just calls them MMORPGs. (Just don’t call them MMORPG games, because that’s like saying ATM machine.)

Ever since the first casting of “An Corp” to resurrect someone in Ultima Online, the gaming world has never quite been the same. Followed by the success of WoW and Everquest, the MMORPG took over much of the gaming focus for many years.

MMORPGs are a commitment, a gaming marriage as opposed to the quick one-night stand of playing a few rounds of Smash Brothers before “24” comes on. MMORPGs demand serious investment of time, money and energy to be rewarding – but those rewards are incomparably sweet, so they’re worth it.

The question is then, are you ready for MMORPG’ing? Ready to sink hours of your life into the minutia of creating and leveling your character(s)? Ready to crunch numbers and research strategy? Ready to get so addicted that you end up paying for a monthly subscription…and then spending even more money for extras?

It’s a lot to ask of anyone, so we recommend “living together” before you “tie the knot”. Here are some try-before-you-buy solutions, otherwise known as free MMORPGs. Some of them are so good, you may decide not to buy the cow when you can get the milk for free…

1. Shaiya

Shaiya is a critically acclaimed, fantasy-themed MMORPG game. It won Gameborder’s Best MMORPG award in 2007, and MMOSITE’s reader’s choice awards for Best Graphics, and placed second for Most Anticipated Game of 2007. Best of all, it’s free!


The plot is the standard fantasy nonsense about Goddesses and Dragons and various races. Players create a character in either the Alliance of Light or the Union of Furies. We’ll let you guess which ones are the good guys.

The standard classes are on offer and, all in all, the 3D game mechanics should be familiar to anyone who’s ever delved into WoW. Quests, items, guilds, Player vs. Player zones, HP, MP, XP – you know the drill by now. It bears mentioning that Shaiya is a newcomer in the MMORPG world, and doesn’t offer as large or detailed an experience as WoW.

Still, with great graphics, solid gameplay and ever more players, Shaiya is definitely worth the download.

2. The Kingdom of Loathing

Not everyone is after an immersive 3D virtual world to suck up all their free (and work, sleep, and social) time. Kingdom of Loathing, or KoL (as it’s affectionately known to members of its friendly community), is a little browser MMORPG. You won’t need a high-tech PC or any fancy graphics hardware to run it. It’ll run just fine on anything which can handle internet browsing.


As you’d expect, the graphics aren’t exactly up to par with Fallout 3. In fact, stick-men illustrations are about the extent of them. That’s fine though, because what KoL has a lot of is humor, and apparently having that makes up for a lack of looks. At least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

In KoL, you collect items and currency (which in this world, is meat), compete and trade with other players, and join clans and whatnot. All of this is turn-based, and you can only do so many things every day. You can choose your character from the likes of Seal Clubbers, Pastamancers, and other such silly options. Basically, KoL is like playing a Terry Pratchett book — or at least a Pratchett eBook.

There are about 150,000 people playing this game, and payment takes the form of strictly voluntary donations. It’s a perfect little game for the office, assuming your net usage isn’t monitored, although it does have a bit of a learning curve. Still, you can’t argue with free and funny.

3. Anarchy Online

If you know MMORPGs, you probably know Age of Conan. Big game, lots of decapitation, about so tall? Yeah. Well, Anarchy Online is made by the makers of that. The setting has less to do with Robert E. Howard than William Gibson, and if you don’t know the difference between those two authors, you need to put down the joypad and pick up a book. Honestly, fantasy and sci-fi nerds today…


Anyway, as you might have surmised, Anarchy is a sci-fi MMORPG. You play as a colonist newly arrived on an alien world, and get to choose your character from three allegiances and fourteen classes. In addition to basic 3D game mechanics, the game offers deep character development, dynamic missions, a large world, and a setting that isn’t the usual elves and unicorns foppery – hurrah!

While the graphics are starting to look their age (Anarchy Online came out in 2001), the game has been consistently upgraded since its inception with patches and add-ons. Sadly, these add-ons require subscription, but the vanilla game is free (albeit with some in-game advertising).

Still, chances are you’ll like it so much you won’t mind upgrading – at least that’s the business model. Seeing as you’ve got nothing to lose, why not investigate the interesting world of Anarchy Online.

4. Fiesta

We’re trying to cover best-of-genre titles here, and the genre Fiesta best fits into is “games to get your girlfriend into MMORPG’ing.” Fiesta features cute cartoon-style graphics, very little in the way of decapitations and maiming, and plenty of light-hearted, friendly fun. Shenanigans and tomfoolery for all.


It’s a fantasy-themed game, where players can choose from four basic classes: Fighters, Mages, Clerics and Archers. It’s sort of an MMORPG-Lite, if you see what we mean. Just think WoW slimmed down to its core, with all the fiddly bits taken out so players can jump right into it and start having fun. While it may be a bit too cutesy for you to play yourself (though hey, we’re not judging) it should serve as a great introduction to the genre for non-hardcore role-players.

Game masters take an active role in the game, playing characters themselves. They are usually very friendly and helpful, allowing beginners to ease into the swing of things without too much trouble.

5. Wizard101

Fiesta still too difficult? Trying to bring MMORPGs to your non-gamer girlfriend, or perhaps *gasp* child? Well, look no further than Wizard101, a turn-based kid-friendly MMORPG set in a world of wizards at school. For copyright reasons, let’s just say that you would likely refer to it as Shmarry Shmotter.


Actually, the creators were probably worried that you’d name your wizard Shmarry Shmotter, so they force you to pick from a list of pre-generated first and last names. Just choose your wizarding school (Fire, Ice, Life, Death, the usual), and you are given a few cards of your chosen school and a starter set of one each from the other schools.

Oh, did we mention that combat is all card-based? When you run into an enemy, you pick a card from your deck and cast that spell. Then the opponent gets to cast a spell. Then you get to cast a spell. Repeat until someone falls down and runs out of hit points.

Still, it’s so simple even a child can do it. In fact, many do, and the world is populated with 13-year olds. If that doesn’t bother you, though, you may as well give it a look. The first few zones are free, at least.

6. Private Servers

Enough of those free MMORPGs. You want to play a deep, high-end graphics, addictive, complex MMORPG like World of Warcraft, and none of this other junk is going to satisfy you as a replacement. Well, why not try playing WoW on a private server? Private Servers are small servers run by regular people rather than Blizzard.


Playing on a private server requires a complex reconfiguration of your WoW data files, guarantees that you’ll miss all the awesome world events on the Blizzard servers, generally requires you to create new characters, allows other players to have weapons with completely unfair damage, probably prevents you from playing with all of your friends who have subscriptions to use, may give you trouble when you try to log on, and often results in serious latency and lag.

So why play on private servers? Well, you get to play WoW for free. Yes, you read that correctly: You get to play WoW for free. If you have purchased World of Warcraft, but no longer want to pay Blizzard’s monthly fees, you can play on a private server for free. Also, if you can convince your friends to all join your server, you’ll have a small world populated with a higher percentage of your friends, and a lower percentage of n00bs. (n00bs will be unable to figure out how to set up the private server.)

There are a number of private servers available for various games, but a reasonable guide to private Warcraft servers can be found here.

Leave a Comment

  1. Kyle says:

    “Playing on a private server requires a complex reconfiguration of your WoW data file”

    LMFAO you edit one line in one file
    It takes 10 seconds and anyone can do it


  2. John Woods says:

    Wow, tell me that aint the coolst thing you ever seen!


    • T.N.R. says:

      It isn't. Happy now?

    • citidel says:

      Why pay for wow when you can get it payed for?
      So you want a free game card. With out spam in your inbox. Is it worth 5-10 minutes of your time? If so then There is a solid answer for you. 5 posts gets you a free game card. I have been doing this to get my wow payed for at no cost for the last 5 months. Sound to good to be true? I thought so to. It is easy it to do and no spam in my mail box. I recommend this over other ways that I have tried. go there sign up and copy past the subject given in the places they ask and wham bam thank you mama you get a nice shiny card for your wow / itunes or just about any game you play that can take a game card. Smile

  3. Gigatiran says:

    Why no Runescape, AQWorlds or many other free MMO’s out there. This is too short of a list.

  4. Bryan Eaton says:

    Runes of Magic?

    Runescape even?

  5. z32o says:

    You know that “Private Servers” as they are called, are illegal?
    Also, I’ve been playing MMORPGs for a long time, and World of Warcraft one of the best I could play, so I really don’t mind spending 15 bucks a month to have lots of fun.

    No more asian MMORPGs for me – can’t even think about them.
    Kill Monsters > Level Up > Kill Monsters > Level Up > Be Strong > The End

    • ccf0031 says:

      .. what is WoW then? isnt it the same thing? -.- and u should have a look at NCsoft latest work… (Aion) it might be the best game of the year i'd say

    • Vince says:

      yea that last like is deff WOW…played wow for 4 years…and quit b.c i finally realized what effect it has on your life to become a high rank, and popular, without cheating(ex. buying gold, and power lvlng) it just takes so much of your life away. Now i play FPS only, the pace is better, and it actually involves skill…unlike wow and its point and click…so gay sooo boring!

    • idiot says:

      you forgot pvp action

  6. UsedToPlayAO says:

    For Science Fiction fans Anarchy Online actually has a very deep story,
    written by Ragnar Tournquist, spaning from WWII to the year 30,000
    that revolves around the destiny of mankind and how it is being
    controlled by an external source.

    The novella “Prophet without honor” can be read/downloaded at the AO website.

  7. mason says:

    Playing on private servers doesn’t require “a complex reconfiguration of your WoW data files.” There are some larger private servers that don’t have many lag or stability issues. And there ARE noobs because some of the larger servers have their own launchers that modifies the realmlist file (the file that tells WoW which server to connect to) for you and then you can log in just like normal.

  8. Kenrobby says:

    I play on a Private WOW server called Bottlenet
    it's TBC 2.4.3
    in game name is Kenrobby
    They also support WOTLK but it has lots of bugs.

  9. mmolover says:

    Don't forget all those OG Planet mmos: Cabal, Rumble Fighter and La Tale

  10. Fresh says:

    What about Guild Wars? Free to play, and looks incredible. Should definitely make the list.

  11. Eli says:

    MUDs are still a great place to play. Check out Arctic Mud.

  12. Dave says:

    Are you actually irresponsible enough to recommend people play on an illegal WoW private server?

  13. coffeerox says:

    where’s Freerealms?

  14. Mike Hammer says:

    Hmmmm, yeah Guidwars ruled until they came to the end of the road and the money dried up…now it's anybody's guess when we will see GW2. It's an awesome game, loads of fun, but WoW kicks butt.

  15. Shawn says:

    na most of them aren't up to the current patch so you usually have to redownload patches and patch to a certain point.

  16. Ptah says:

    That's the stupidest article I ever seen in my life. WOW would never be so popular, if any of these games was any good. Pirate servers are pretty common for poor gamer, but they have huge amount of bugs, which is really annoying.

  17. Kev-o says: should have been on this list

  18. aiever says:

    Perfect World is out in the U.S. now……. same style as WOW but free and just as much to do! Check it out! n Cabal is a goodie 2!

  19. crazy sumbtch says:

    "You want to play a deep, high-end graphics, addictive, complex MMORPG like World of Warcraft…" lmao! high end graphics? what year do you live in? 2002? (it's medium AT BEST) i never understood why anyone played WoW, just seemed like a family friendly time waster to me, but then aren't all mmorpg's just big time wasters? i should know, i've played about 30 different ones.

  20. Nope he won't be until he's spammed all 70 variations of his url across the web.

  21. C_M says:

    Congratulations on winning the dumbest fucking poster award. Do you really think these games are shit because WoW is popular? Are you that big of a fucking dickweed? WoW is a great game, but so are most of the other games on this list (and some that aren't).

    Get a fucking life you giant sack of horse shit.

  22. Dan says:

    Forgotten World is also good. It's an old school RPG based on the Goldbox engine.

  23. Tex says:

    I can't believe you listed Private Servers as an alternative to World of Warcraft. I am sure you are Blizzards best friend now 🙂

    Not that I can complain, I sell World of Warcraft gold (and other games) for a living at

  24. Rob says:

    I can't believe you left out Runes of Magic, possible one of the best Free-to-Play MMORPG's out there… A GREAT alternative to playing WoW, and has an excellent community behind it.

  25. semose says:

    La Tale kicks ass if you can stomach the painfully cute, loli-style anime art. behind that, though, are solid beat 'em up game mechanics, with a fairly deep RPG backend. Also, the game runs on just about any computer, including netbooks!

  26. miggs says:

    What about Perfect World?

  27. Brian says:

    You want to try an MMO with incredible graphics and totally unique way of play? Try the RCE MMORPG called planet calpso which is part of the Entropia Universe. You can check it out at They are upgrading the engine on Monday to CryEngine2 (the one used in CrySis). The graphics I have seen prerelease are incredible. It will be themost advanced gaming engine used in an MMORPG to date. There is no monthly fee and the client is free to download. It is an RCE game so you can play at level you want from free to all the money you have. The nice thing is you can make good money playing it if you know how.

  28. qerger says:

    cant believe no one mentioned Dungeon Runners. If u have any sense of humor then definitely download dungeon runners. its free, but if u want better weapons and locations and stuff then u need to pay $5 which is still way less than wow, but u dont have to pay to play. Plenty of items, weapons and story for free.

  29. David says:

    What about Tibia??

  30. lololrofl says:

    private wow servers are crap dude…

  31. Kyle says:

    All right free MMORGPs are great but they do lack in some of the finer qualities of WoW and I think the other major one is Ever Quest. I pay for wow and don't sink too much time into it i only have a level 42 out of a possible 80 and worked on him 4 months maybe 20 minutes a day yea i know i suck. the point is the 15 dollars goes towards patches updates expansions etc it keeps the game running and improving constantly and that is why The high end money per month games will always have more members and a bit more to offer.

  32. Smavey says:

    Runescape is the #1 free MMORPG i think

  33. Mmorpg says:

    I just checked out the video demo at looks calm at the start but then looks really amazing. May give this one a go

  34. Fred says:

    I like Improbable Island – it's comparable to KoL.

  35. Doug says:

    Thanks for the great article! I've been looking around for free MMORPGs, and I also found this guide:
    It covers some additional free online role-playing games. cheers!

  36. JPC says:

    Seems to be a bit of an underground movement but I play a unique "social strategy" game. You can run for congress, become president, play soldier, but the cool thing is that you interact with real people. It gives the game a whole sense of realism that no other online game has done.
    Check it out!

  37. KSib says:

    @Fresh: Guild Wars isn’t free. Don’t confuse people. There’s no subscription fee, which is what we’re covering right now. Micro payment games and completely free games are included in this list.

    How do you not list Runes of Magic? That should be at the top of the list. It is, in simplest form, a free WoW clone. Also, how would you guys consider Runescape as bad as it looks. Ugh, time to stop playing a game that looks like it was made for the NES.

    Really? kingdom of loathing? It looks like a crappy old mac game.

    You, this list was bunk when you left out Runes of Magic at #1 or #2 and included private servers at the bottom like a tool. Somehow, out of all of the free MMOs out there, you pick these. I don’t get it. I don’t like the following, but as an example that you know what you’re talking about, you could say Maple Story, or Rappelz, ROSE, or any micropayment-based games from companies such as Nexon or gPotato.

  38. Gogy says:

    I played the free WOW trial, but now have no way to keep playing cause the online upgrade won't accept my credit card (same card i have used to pay varrious other online games). Also Amazon and e-bay will not ship the game to my country because of some pathetic US law. So in the absence of being able to play WOW legally due to some discriminative US legislation, and WOW's lame online payment options (why don't they have PayPal as an option?! and their support line puts you on hold for 20 mins on an international call), one must recognize that these free servers are the only remaining viasble option. Therefore thank you for the info.

  39. p0ntus says:

    By including Kingdom of Loathing, you destroyed your credibility. Just because it's kinda funny doesn't mean it's worth playing. I did not read on, and I will now never consider playing Shaiya. Thanks, idiot.

  40. gigel says:

    Only fools who don't know how to use the internet pay for games. They're free to download! Why pay for something when you can get it for free?

  41. Joe says:

    I like to play Queville

  42. spookiepants says:

    I play Anarchy Online. Its a great game that's held up well over the years.
    You'll also find a diverse community of players. case in point:

    check it out.

  43. anon says:

    ddo is also free, and its a pretty dang fun game 😀

  44. oliver says:

    prøv da league of legend det er mega fed mmorgp spil

  45. Balinski says:

    Wheres runescape?

  46. steve says:

    and well, private serve3rs are, well illegal. so your sorta endorsing illegal activity. just letting yeah know.

  47. Shinobi says:

    Dungeons and Dragons Online just opened up their free-to-play model, and with a fair amount of game time, you can unlock content well beyond what the initial content allows. New races and classes, favor to open new adventure packs, it's well-designed, though I'm sure Turbine likes it when you want something bad enough to make micropayments. Here's the odd thing: since opening up free play, their SUBSCRIPTIONS have improved as well. It's a great game with plenty of hours to put into it.

    Dungeon Runners died, I'm sorry to say. It was amusing, but not as mcuh fun as WOW.

    Improbable Island is a shell for a game called The Legend of the Red Dragon, just with different names, background, and creatures. It's tongue-in-cheek rather than high fantasy.

    Kingdom of Loathing is goofy, but not an MMORPG. It's a colorful way to pass your time, but about as deep as a Facebook app game.

  48. Meow says:

    I love wizard 101…but it´s not free…you can´t really do much for free there – just get up to about 9th level and you´re done. I wish there was a free version or at least something similar to it… maple story is just not that interesting and wizards and magic are way more fun:) If anyone knows about similar, but free game, I would love to hear about it!:)

  49. dear admin; I conclude u r a dumb@ss motherfocker stoopid sh1t. I despise you for the evil things you say in your blog! LONG LIVE THE TURKISH FEDERATION!!!

  50. Burton Pelt says:

    I really like this shit man, you are a miracle