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MMO is an acronym for Massively Multiplayer Online. An MMO Game typically consists of tens of thousands of players from around the world. This is a modern phenomenon that was unheard of until recent years. There are many genres of MMO Games but the most popular genres are:
MMORPG (Role Play Game)
MMORTS (Real Time Strategy)
MMOFPS (First Person Shooter)
MMO Sci-Fi (Science Fiction)

Here we will look at how traditional multiplayer games have grown into MMO games. We will also see details about each type of MMO along with some games you might be interested in playing. Any game referenced in this article is a free MMO game with no purchase necessary. Many free MMO games can be played in your browser but some games require a download to install the game.

How Multiplayer Games Have Grown
Traditional multiplayer computer games are played on a single computer with split screen or on several computers over a local network, which is known as LAN Party (Local Area Network Party). For this reason, to host a multiplayer game in the comfort of your own home with more than 10 people is unheard of – most people do not have more than 10 network ports on their router and certainly do not have room for 10 computers in their house! The only way to facilitate multiplayer games with hundreds of players was to attend an organised LAN Party at a large venue. Even large LAN Party events would be unable to facilitate thousands of players.

Despite multiplayer games over the Internet having been available for a long time, limitations of Internet connection speed and older server technology has been unable to support massively multiplayer games.

Thanks to high speed broadband Internet connections and the development of modern server technology with multi-core processors and several gigabytes memory, many computer game companies are hosting online games with tens of thousands of players. MMO is born.

MMORPG Games
The most popular genre of MMO is MMO RPG (Role Play Game) and millions of players are registered for games like Neverwinter (Dungeons & Dragons), Runescape and World of Warcraft (WoW). RPGs allow the player to take on the identity of a fantasy hero in a virtual world, usually required to go on quests in the form of adventure and battle – The player has to perform a specific task whilst negotiating vast terrain and being alert for enemies or wild creatures. Interaction with other players in the game is through collaboration or battle. An MMO RPG typically has no end game so it is impossible to finish, which means players can level up and explore the virtual online game world over many months or years of gameplay.

MMORTS Games
Probably the second most popular style of MMO is MMO RTS (Real Time Strategy). An RTS game can be any game with a strategy element but the most popular RTS themes are empire building, city building and military base building. The player is usually given the position of ruler over an empire, mayor of a city or leader of a military organisation. Major elements of MMORTS games tend to include gathering resources, deciding what units or structures to build and how they should be deployed. Popular MMORTS games include Age Of Empires Online by Gas Powered Games, Forge of Empires by Inno Games and War of Legends by Jagex Games Studio.

MMOFPS
MMOs with a first person shooter concept are known as MMOFPS games. The genre speaks for itself but there are a diverse range of themes for shooter games such as soldiers, tanks, space ships, cowboys, zombies, superheroes and fantasy characters. The difference between traditional FPS games is that an MMOFPS game involves a virtual environment containing thousands of online players who compete. Each player is tasked with survival and scoring the more points than other players. Some MMOFPS games are Ace of Spades, DDTank and Tanki Online.

MMO Sci-Fi
Although any science fiction theme is possible, MMO Sci-Fi games are often set in outer space. Many of the popular games are based on famous TV shows or movies such as Battlestar Galactica Online, Star Trek Online and Star Wars. These games tend to mix components of strategy, exploration, RPG and first person shooter. Therefore if you want to enjoy a little bit of everything, MMO Sci Fi is a great place to start!

Free MMO Games
For many years, computer games were distributed solely on portable media such as Cassette, Floppy Disk, CD ROM or DVD ROM. This made it impossible for computer game companies to provide free games. Now thanks to high speed Internet connections, computer games are often available as a download or a browser based online game with no download required. Due to this zero distribution cost, many software companies are releasing free computer games. If you are an online gamer, enjoy the benefits and start playing free MMO games today!

Only a few MMO Games were mentioned in this article but Wikipedia has a huge list of online multiplayer games if you want to see more. Not every game in their list is free but it is definitely worth reading.