MMO Generational Divisions – Wikipedia Version

Reading from the Wikipedia article on MMOs, there is a proposed generational definition.  I have whittled it down to commercial 3D graphical samples from each generation and my read as to what defines the proposed generation.

First Generation

Defined As: Graphical, multiplayer, and commercial, they are represented by the list below from the first entrants in the category through until the first popular, commercially successful, and truly massive MMOs:

Meridian 59
The Realm Online
Ultima Online
Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds
Asheron’s Call

Second Generation

Defined As: Post-commercial success but pre-3rd generation, they are represented by the following examples:

Dark Age of Camelot
Anarchy Online
Final Fantasy XI
Ragnarok Online
Eve Online
Second Life
Entropia Universe
Lineage II
City of Heroes

Third Generation

Defined As:  I have to quote the Wikipedia entry for the definition of third generation,

The most recent generation of MMORPGs, based on arbitrary standards of graphics, game play, and popularity, is said to have launched in November 2004….

And they are represented currently by:

EverQuest II
World of Warcraft
Guild Wars


I found this generational definition rather unsatisfying and to be out of sync with the discussions on what will make a 3rd generation MMO (since, if nothing else, it says we already have 3rd generation MMOs), but I thought I would toss it out.

14 thoughts on “MMO Generational Divisions – Wikipedia Version

  1. Razakius

    I would say that we are currently 3rd generation, yet I do find that this articles definition is unsatisfying, and only partly because there were previous graphical online RPGs that were considered massive in their day including Shadows of Yserbius (not hugely graphical but it was graphical based) and Neverwinter Nights (not the current iteration, but the one you played on AOL back when it was like $2.99 per hour).

    I also have the tendancy to believe that CoH and Lineage II were both third generation games. And Second Life isn’t even an MMO (why second life and not There?). CoH I think is borderline, but considering Lineage II had roughly the same launch date as EQ2, I find it peculiar that it is considered second generation by their standards.

    I also think their definitions are rather arbitrary. In reality, the generations can be defined as groupings of games that are launched within a two to five year span. It is not unlike the generations of Consoles. Where at one time you could certainly make distinctions on the generations (8-bit, 16-bit, 32/64-bit), modern day consoles are more just generational based on when they come out more than anything else. (There really is little difference in PS3 vs PS2 or Xbox vs X360 IMHO, HD isn’t that big of a diff, there is a far bigger diff between GCN and Wii which has a much smaller difference graphically). I mean how are they going to define 3rd generation when 4th comes out? “Defined as before 4th and after 2nd generation”? That isn’t very good for a definition, yes we all know 3 comes after 2 and before 4. Yet this is essentially the definition of the 2nd generation.


  2. darrenl

    Yeah…lots to say on this and I don’t want to clog up the comments here. I’ll address it on my site as well as soon as I gather my thoughts.

    Thanks Wil


  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    [Tents fingers like Mr. Burns]

    Excellent, my plan to stir the pot by posting this is coming to fruition!

    Actually, I have heard the terms second and third generation tossed around enough without definition that I wanted to get people thinking about it.

    And the lists of games above for each generation are examples of that generation, not exhaustive lists. I dropped some obscure ones and there were some omissions in the generational section of the article as well. (SWG for example.)


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  6. cyanbane

    Don’t forget Shadow of Yseribus in Gen 1. As for all the others I would wholeheartedly agree with your analysis, except I might put DAoC and Shadowbane in a v1.5 column. Both were post-EQ and ran much off of EQ’s steam, but were not yet what I would define as Gen 2.


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  9. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Which is exactly the point some people are trying to make. I personally see either one generation if we talk about major game factors, or many generations on different paths if we talk just about technical and minor feature aspects. Such fun!


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