The real difference between MMOs and MMORPGs

11/22/2015
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The difference:

The difference between an MMO and an MMORPG is something a lot of newcomers to the genre find themselves wondering about. Are they the same thing?  How do I tell them apart? Which one am I playing right now, and what does it have to do with Rocket-Propelled Grenades?

Surprisingly enough, the answers to all these questions are quite simple.

Let’s start with the basics

MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. Right about now you’re probably asking yourself: “Massively Multiplayer Online what?”. Well, that’s exactly the point - no game is simply an MMO; it has to belong to a certain genre. For example, it can be a Strategy Game, a First-Person Shooter or a Role-Playing Game.

Role-Playing Game - that sounds a little familiar, right? That’s because Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, or MMORPGs, are simply MMOs with deep Role-Playing elements. These elements usually include a leveling-up system, hero customization options, skill trees, permanent equipment upgrades and many other aspects. To cover everything will require us to be here all day.

Some might say that all MMORPGs are easily recognizable by their Fantasy settings, but that's in no way true. Though the majority of RPGs do take place in the realm of elves, orcs and dragons, a lot of them choose different worlds to explore, like far-off planets or post-apocalyptic wastelands.

By now you probably figured out two things: one, is that every MMORPG is an MMO. The second, and maybe the more important of the two, is that not all MMOs are MMORPGs. That’s something you need to remember, as it can be a bit embarrassing talking to a fellow Gamer about the new MMORPG you’re playing, only to find out you’re actually playing a hardcore multiplayer Strategy title with a deep base-customization system and no RPG elements whatsoever.

I know it might sound a little trivial, but trust me - Gamers are pretty sensitive to this kind of mistakes.

Oh, and one more important thing to remember - most MMORPGs don’t usually involve Rocket-Propelled Grenades. Unless, of course, you’re playing in a futuristic dystopia where magic has been replaced with high explosives, which are more or less the same thing, only much cooler.