MMO Timeline

The MMO Timeline is a quick reference sheet for the notable MMOs of our era — when they launched, when they released expansion packs, and when (if) they closed. If I’m missing a title or expansion you feel should be included on this list, please leave a comment below (with the date of the month/year they were released).

Notes:

  • Expansions are in regular font
  • Launches are in black bold
  • Closings in red bold
  • Relaunches, major shifts in format or changes to its business model are in blue bold
  • This list does not include updates, patches or other non-expansion-level additions.  I’m also not including every piddly MMO on the planet.

1980

  • MUD1, the first text-based MMO, launches

1985

  • Island of Kesmai launches

1986

  • Summer – Habitat launches

1988

  • Habitat closes

drakkar

1989

  • Kingdom of Drakkar launches

1991

  • March – Neverwinter Nights (AOL) launches

1992

  • Neverwinter Nights (AOL): Expansion
  • The Shadow of Yserbius launches

1995

  • Island of Kesmai closes

1996

  • September – Meridian 59 launches
  • The Shadow of Yserbius closes
  • The Realm Online launches
  • Legends of Kesmai launches
  • Dark Sun Online launches
  • Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds launches

1997

  • July – Neverwinter Nights (AOL) closes
  • September – Ultima Online launches

1998

  • September – Lineage launches
  • October – Ultima Online: The Second Age
  • Dark Sun Online closes

1999

  • March – EverQuest launches
  • November – Asheron’s Call launches

2000

  • March – EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark
  • May – Ultima Online: Renaissance
  • December – EverQuest: The Scars of Velious
  • Legends of Kesmai closes

2001

  • January – RuneScape launches
  • March – Ultima Online: Third Dawn
  • June – World War II Online launches
  • June – Anarchy Online launches
  • October – Dark Age of Camelot launches
  • October – Motor City Online launches
  • October – Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty
  • December – EverQuest: The Shadows of Luclin

2002

  • February – Ultima Online: Lord Blackthorn’s Revenge
  • May – Final Fantasy XI launches
  • September – Earth & Beyond launches
  • October – EverQuest: The Planes of Power
  • November – Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles
  • November – Neocron launches
  • November – Anarchy Online: The Notum Wars
  • November – Asheron’s Call 2 launches
  • December – The Sims Online launches

2003

  • February – Ultima Online: Age of Shadows
  • February – EverQuest: The Legacy of Ykesha
  • February – A Tale in the Desert launches
  • February – EverQuest Online Adventures launches
  • March – Shadowbane launches
  • April – Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart
  • May – EVE Online launches
  • May – Planetside launches
  • June – Star Wars Galaxies launches
  • June – Toontown Online launches
  • June – Rubies of Eventide launches
  • June – Dark Age of Camelot: Foundations
  • August – Motor City Online closes
  • September – EverQuest: Lost Dungeons of Norrath
  • September – Anarchy Online: Shadowlands
  • October – Lineage II launches
  • October – Planetside: Core Combat
  • October – Dark Age of Camelot: Trials of Atlantis
  • November – EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers
  • December – EVE Online: Castor
  • December – Puzzle Pirates launches
  • December – Horizons/Istaria launches

2004

  • February – EverQuest: Gates of Discord
  • April – City of Heroes launches
  • June – Dark Age of Camelot: New Frontiers
  • September – EverQuest: Omens of War
  • September – Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia
  • September – Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion
  • September – Earth & Beyond closes
  • September – Saga of Ryzom launches
  • September – Neocron 2 launches
  • October – Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed
  • October – Meridian 59: Evolution
  • November – Ultima Online: Samurai Empire
  • November – World of Warcraft launches
  • November – EverQuest 2 launches
  • November – EVE Online: Exodus
  • December – Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs
  • December – Anarchy Online goes free-to-play

2005

  • February – EverQuest: Dragons of Norrath
  • March – The Matrix Online launches
  • March – EverQuest 2: The Bloodline Chronicles
  • April – Guild Wars launches
  • May – Star Wars Galaxies: Rage of the Wookies
  • May – Asheron’s Call 2: Legions
  • June – EverQuest 2: The Splitpaw Saga
  • June – EVE Online: Exodus: Cold War
  • July – Asheron’s Call: Throne of Destiny
  • August – Ultima Online: Mondain’s Legacy
  • September – EverQuest: Depths of Darkhallow
  • September – EverQuest 2: Desert of Flames
  • October – Dark Age of Camelot: Darkness Rising
  • October – City of Villains
  • November – Star Wars Galaxies: Trials of Obi-Wan
  • December – Asheron’s Call 2 closes
  • December – EVE Online: Red Moon Rising

2006

  • February – EverQuest: Prophecy of Ro
  • February – EverQuest 2: Kingdom of Sky
  • February – Dungeons & Dragons Online launches
  • March – EVE Online: Bloodlines
  • April – Auto Assault launches
  • April – Guild Wars: Factions
  • April – Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan
  • June – EverQuest 2: The Fallen Dynasty
  • September – EverQuest: The Serpent’s Spine
  • October – Guild Wars: Nightfall
  • November – Dark Age of Camelot: Labyrinth of the Minotaur
  • November – EverQuest 2: Echos of Faydwer
  • November – EVE Online: Revelations I
  • December – Anarchy Online: Lost Eden

2007

  • January – World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
  • January – Vanguard launches
  • February – EverQuest: The Buried Sea
  • April – Lord of the Rings Online launches
  • May – Dungeon Runners launches
  • June – EVE Online: Revelations II
  • August – Auto Assault closes
  • August – Guild Wars: Eye of the North
  • October – Hellgate: London launches
  • October – Pirates of the Caribbean Online launches
  • November – EverQuest: Secrets of Faydwer
  • November – EverQuest 2: Rise of Kunark
  • November – Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess
  • November – Tabula Rasa launches
  • December – EVE Online: Trinity

2008

  • January – Pirates of the Burning Sea launches
  • May – Age of Conan launches
  • June – EVE Online: Empyrean Age
  • August – The Sims Online closes
  • October – EverQuest: Seeds of Destruction
  • September – Warhammer Online launches
  • September – Wizard 101 launches
  • November – World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
  • November – EverQuest 2: The Shadow Odyssey
  • November – Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria
  • November – EVE Online: Quantum Rise

2009

  • January – Hellgate: London closes
  • February – Tabula Rasa closes
  • February – Darkfall launches
  • February – Anarchy Online: Legacy of the Xan
  • March – EVE Online: Apocrypha
  • March – Runes of Magic launches
  • April – Free Realms launches
  • July – Shadowbane closes
  • August – The Matrix Online closes
  • August – Rubies of Eventide closes
  • September – Ultima Online: Stygian Abyss
  • September – Aion launches
  • September – Champions Online launches
  • September – Fallen Earth launches
  • September – DDO goes free-to-play
  • December – Alganon launches
  • December – EverQuest: Underfoot
  • December – Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood
  • December – EVE Online: Dominion

2010

  • January – Dungeon Runners closes
  • February – Global Agenda launches
  • February – Star Trek Online launches
  • February – EverQuest 2: Sentinel’s Fate
  • May – EverQuest 2: Halas Reborn
  • May – Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer
  • May – EVE Online: Tyrannis
  • June – All Points Bulletin launches
  • June – Mortal Online launches
  • June – Global Agenda goes free-to-play
  • July – Need for Speed World launches
  • August – City of Heroes: Going Rogue
  • August – A Tale in the Desert: Fifth Telling
  • August – Lineage II: Freya
  • August — EverQuest 2 goes free-to-play
  • August — Hello Kitty Online launches
  • September — All Points Bulletin closes
  • September — Final Fantasy XIV launches
  • September — LOTRO goes free-to-play
  • September — Pirates of the Burning Sea: Power & Prestige
  • September — Aion: Assault on Balaurea
  • October — LEGO Universe launches
  • October — Vindictus launches
  • October — Wizard101: Celestia
  • October — EverQuest: House of Thule
  • October — Darkfall: Hellfreeze
  • October — Ultima Online: High Seas
  • November — Perpetuum Online launches
  • December — World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
  • December — EVE Online: Incursion

2011

  • January – DC Universe Online launches
  • January – Champions Online goes free-to-play
  • February – EverQuest II: Destiny of Velious
  • February – Earthrise launches
  • March – RIFT launches
  • March – Xsyon launches
  • March – Black Prophecy launches
  • April – World of Tanks launches
  • April – Global Agenda goes free-to-play
  • April – Allods Online launches (after a year in open beta)
  • May – Faxion Online launches
  • June – Lineage closes servers in North America
  • June – EVE Online: Incarna
  • June – Gods & Heroes launches
  • July – Black Prophecy launches
  • September – Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard
  • September – City of Heroes goes free-to-play
  • September – Faxion Online closes
  • September – Glitch launches
  • October – Fallen Earth goes free-to-play
  • October – Dawntide launches
  • November – EverQuest: Veil of Alaris
  • November – EVE Online: Crucible
  • November – DC Universe Online goes free-to-play
  • December – EverQuest II: Age of Discovery
  • December – Star Wars Galaxies closes
  • December – Star Wars: The Old Republic launches

2012

  • January – LEGO Universe closes
  • January – Star Trek Online goes free-to-play
  • February – Earthrise closes
  • February – Wakfu launches
  • March – EverQuest goes free-to-play
  • March – EverQuest Online Adventures closes
  • April – Aion goes free-to-play
  • May – TERA launches
  • May – EVE Online: Inferno
  • June – Dungeons and Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark
  • July – The Secret World launches
  • August – Guild Wars 2 launches
  • August – Allods Online: New Horizons
  • August – Vanguard goes free-to-play
  • September – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
  • September – Black Prophecy closes
  • October – Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan
  • October – Pirate101 launches
  • November – City of Heroes closes
  • November – PlanetSide 2 launches
  • November – RIFT: Storm Legion
  • November – EverQuest: Rain of Fear
  • November – EverQuest II: Chains of Eternity
  • November – Star Wars: The Old Republic goes free-to-play
  • December – EVE Online: Retribution
  • December – The Secret World goes buy-to-play
  • December – Asheron’s Call 2 relaunches
  • December – Glitch closes

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2013

  • January – Wizardry Online launches
  • February – TERA goes free-to-play
  • March – Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin
  • March – Allods Online: Lords of Destiny
  • April – Defiance launches
  • April – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel
  • April – Darkfall Unholy Wars reboot
  • April – Age of Wushu launches
  • April – Neverwinter launches
  • May – Star Trek Online: Legacy of Romulus
  • May – DUST 514 launches
  • June – EVE Online: Odyssey
  • June – RIFT goes free-to-play
  • June – Puzzle Pirates launches on iPad
  • June – Marvel Heroes launches
  • July – RuneScape 3 launches
  • August – Dungeons and Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy
  • August – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn relaunches
  • September – MechWarrior Online launches
  • September – Dragon’s Prophet launches
  • September – Toontown Online closes
  • September – Pirates of the Caribbean Online closes
  • October- EverQuest: Call of the Forsaken
  • November – EverQuest II: Tears of Veeshan
  • November – Lord of the Rings Online: Helm’s Deep
  • November – Eve Online: Rubicon
  • November – EverQuest Mac closes
  • December – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning closes
  • December – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Starfighter

wildstar2014

  • March – Free Realms closes
  • March – Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures closes
  • April – The Elder Scrolls Online launches
  • May – WildStar launches
  • June – EVE Online: Kronos
  • July – Vanguard closes
  • July – Wizardry Online closes
  • July – EVE Online: Crius
  • July – Firefall launches
  • July – Swordsman launches
  • August – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Strongholds
  • September – Destiny launches

79 thoughts on “MMO Timeline

  1. Awesome list.

    Perhaps include in RED when MMOs shut down or close.

    Tabula Rasa – February 28, 2009

    Matrix Online – July 2009.

    Auto Assault – ?

    The Sims Online – ?

    Earth and Beyond – ?

    Asheron’s Call 2 – ?

  2. Multi-player Battletech on AOL isn’t on the list. Not a true MMO as of todays standards, but back in the early 90′s it was.

  3. Excellent job Syp. Especially including the dates of expansions as well as initial releases. A useful resource.

    One thing though, Asheron’s Call launched November ’99, not 2000. Their tenth anniversary is coming up very soon.

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  5. Face of Mankind will add some colour…

    Released in March 2006 after a lengthy beta starting in 2004; in November 2007, publisher Ojom withdrew support for the game. Duplex Systems shut down the game’s servers in order to restructure it and relaunch as Face of Mankind: Rebirth.On June 30, 2008 Duplex Systems announced the cancellation of Face of Mankind: Rebirth, citing financial problems. On 8 October 2008, Duplex Systems announced via the face of mankind website that the game would be “coming back soon”.On 1 December 2008, this was confirmed with an official announcement by Duplex Systems and Nexeon Technologies.

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  7. A couple more that had major impact on other MMO’s

    I remember hearing about Horizons: Empires of Istaria when I was playing AC1 and it was in beta for a couple years. There was major scandals about developer money but I can’t find the links to it anymore.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=879184

    http://www.massively.com/2008/04/15/struggling-mmo-horizons-renamed-istaria/

    Necron which had naught bits in it and caused all kinds of fun because of dancers you could not interact with… lol

    neocron launched in 2002
    neocron 2 launched in 2004

    http://ng.neocron.com/ 2002 and 2004

    and something should be said to the fact that all of the early ones were graphic MUD not MMO’s that term came later with EQ maybe. I’ve still got the beta cd around here somewhere… but more is the point that with out adventure (Zork rip off) things would have been different how much who knows but even as M59 the realms came otu there were still MUDs that had more players at the time.

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  9. Another thing worth analysing by sorting those things a little differently:

    Game Launches vs. Game Expansions/Improvements.

    It might be interesting to see, how fast, how often, and how long MMOs took to build on top of their existing game and whether this actually makes a difference to their longevity.

    You might have to add “large content updates” into the mix too [i.e. like the latest WoW Dungeon Finder] or any “innovative” feature.

    Reason is since the whole “innovation vs polish” debate i’m wondering why company’s launch new MMOs as opposed to innovating/improving their existing MMOs and whether there is a pattern there…..

    I’m specifically looking at EA/Cryptic/NCSoft/SOE whom all have multiple MMOs vs. the behemoth Blizzard who has only one MMO .

  10. Nice Job! I definitely will be referencing this list in my MMO Video Blog when I need specific dates, If you don’t get mentioned in my next episode with a link, smack me! :)

  11. Great to see WW2OL listed. Started with that MMO in November 2002 when the Mac version was released – been there every month since.

    Currently in F2P DDO, LOTRO lifetime, Star Trek Online – 3 month commitment to see if more content is added, Heroes – dropped after 3 months a bit boring, played EVE for 2 years – mining got boring.

    Still today – WW2OL presents the best game challenge and rush.

  12. If free updates to superhero MMOs count, here are some more items that belong on the list:

    2004
    * June – City of Heroes: Through the Looking Glass
    * September – City of Heroes: A Shadow of the Past

    2005
    * January – City of Heroes: A Council of War
    * May – City of Heroes: Colosseum
    * August – City of Heroes: Forest of Dread
    * October – City of Heroes: Along Came a Spider

    2006
    * June – City of Heroes/Villains: Destiny Manifest
    * November – City of Heroes/Villains: To Protect and Serve

    2007
    * May – City of Heroes/Villains: Breakthrough
    * July – City of Heroes/Villains: Invasion
    * November – City of Heroes/Villains: A Stitch in Time

    2008
    * May – City of Heroes/Villains: Midnight Hour
    * December – City of Heroes/Villains: Power and Responsibility

    2009
    * April – City of Heroes/Villains: Architect
    * June – City of Heroes/Villains: Anniversary
    * September – City of Heroes/Villains: Power Spectrum

    2010
    * March – Champions Online: Revelations
    * April – City of Heroes/Villains: Dark Mirror

  13. Correction — City of Heroes: Going Rogue has been pushed back to August 2010. We apologize for any convenience this may cause.

  14. Nice post but it’s pretty tough to read with black on black. Glad to see EQOA represented.

    -Stoney
    eqoa.wordpress.com

  15. Stoney skrev: “Nice post but it’s pretty tough to read with black on black.”

    It’s not very easy to read with black on dark brown either. Also:

    2010
    * August – City of Heroes/Villains: Shades of Gray (free expansion)

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  17. Not sure how fine you want to split hairs, but as I understand it The Realm Online didn’t launch (as most of us would define it) in 1995, rather it entered a public alpha. Raph’s MUD Timeline has The Realm Online entering Beta in 1996, but doesn’t include the month as you’ve done for your entries.

    It depends on what you mean by “launches”, I guess. But, Meridian 59 is recognized as being the first game to launch via retail, for all that’s worth.

  18. Yet another update: in the first quarter of 2011, Champions Online will become a free-to-play/subscription hybrid a la the Atari/Turbine fantasy MMOs. Also, DC Universe Online will launch in March of 2011.

  19. For Darkfall:

    “Hellfreeze” Expansion – October 2010

    “Conquer the Seas” Expansion – December 2009

    Darkfall’s first Expansion – July 2009

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  21. Thanks Shadow! I’m not going to include WAR, because it wasn’t an official expansion (no matter what terminology they like to use), but the EVE thing, for sure.

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  25. http://www.1up.com/features/creatures-habitat-mmo

    According to 1up it launched in 1985. Technically, I think it’s the first graphical MMO. I didn’t even have a modem back then, so I can’t confirm. However, back in 1991 some amazingly prescient insights into modern MMOs were published, it’s the second article I originally linked. A TLDR summary of what stuck out to me can be found here: [http://yfernbottom.blogspot.com/2009/12/habitat.html]

    It’s one of my least popular posts, even considering hardly anyone was reading my blog back then. Despite my promise, I actually never did get around to tracking down the book cited in the articles. Salt grains may be needed.

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  27. I’d add Dark Sun Online to this list. I remember it being pretty popular among members of my old Diablo guild, back around 1997. Not sure when it started.

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  32. I wonder what I would have thought if I could have seen this list in 2002 when I took my first hesitant step into MMOs with Runescape. I was promptly mauled by a bear.

  33. Awesome timeline!!! It’s realy interesting. But another question brought me here….don’t you know about another researches about origin of MMO elements and their improvements??

  34. Not sure how nobody’s caught this before, but:
    spring 2013
    Star Wars: The Old Republic — Rise of the Hutt Cartel

  35. 2012:
    November:
    Nov 1: Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 final character save (No progress saved for 2.0/A Realm Reborn after this point)

    Nov. 11 FFXIV 1.0 final event and official server closing (temporarily brought back up on 11/21 until 12/31, again no progress saved for 2.0/ARR)

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  38. I visit this list about once a year and it’s amazing to see the growth of the industry. With the waves of MMO’s being shut down, it’s almost as if this can be broken up into multiple generations.

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