7 Great Massively Multiplayer Online Games for Families

Posted by | June 30, 2015 | Opinion | 8 Comments
online games for families

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) are a dime a dozen online. There are thousands of different MMOs to choose from. Whether you want to play something that has a fantasy, sci-fi, or superhero theme, there’s an MMO for you. The great thing about online games for families is that they are connected online with thousands of other people around the globe. In many ways, it’s like living in another world through your character. There are a lot of great MMO options out there for families to play together and almost all of them are completely free to play.

Arcane Legends

ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Platform: iOS, Android, Chrome Web App
Theme: Fantasy Role Playing Game
Developer: Spacetime Studios
Price: Free, with optional microtransactions

Arcane Legends is a very solid and traditional entry in the genre. It features a lot of staples, such as completing quests, leveling up heroes, and teaming up with people. It’s a great family option because you can play the game from anywhere. The visuals are incredibly vibrant and attractive to look at, especially since the game was designed for mobile devices.

Arcane Legends isn’t doing anything unique with its simple, fast-action gameplay. Yet it still manages to be fun. Arcane Legends also has an interesting pet system that should appeal to children. You can raise a wide variety of pets to aid you on your adventures. It’s also one of the most popular MMOs on mobile. There are lots of people playing and tons of regular content updates.

Wizard 101

ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up
Platform: PC, Mac
Theme: Fantasy Role Playing Game
Developer: KingsIsle Entertainment
Price: Free, with optional microtransactions

If you’re looking for the all-around best family-friendly MMO specifically targeted at younger kids, then you can’t do much better than Wizard 101. Everything from the visuals to the premise to the marketing are geared specifically for kids. However, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun for adults and older children too. There’s actually quite a bit of complexity involved once you peel back the layers.

Essentially, you create a Wizard student to take control of in the bright, colorful, and fantastical world of Wizard 101. And in Wizard 101, you don’t engage in typical action-based combat by firing off spells at each other or fighting monsters out in the open. Instead, the game uses a card system to organize and deploy your attacks. It ends up feeling like a mixture of a collectible card game and an online RPG.

All other aspects aside though, Wizard 101 is on this list primarily because of the measures it takes to ensure a safe and enjoyable online environment for kids. Parents have a lot of control over account activation, the types of chat kids can participate in, and how much interaction they can have with other players. Online games can be dangerous playgrounds, so it’s nice to see a good, fun, quality game taking steps to ensure child safety online.

DC Universe Online

ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Theme: Superhero Role Playing Game
Developer: Daybreak Game Company
Price: Free, with Optional Microtransactions

One of the best ways to draw a family into a game that everyone can relate to is to pick something that’s based on familiar source material. And it doesn’t get much more familiar than DC Comics. Everyone knows about Superman, Batman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the popular heroes and villains from DC Comics’ long history.

And thankfully, this is actually one of the few MMOs that you can download on consoles. It’s on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, as well as PC. You don’t have the option to actually play as DC’s iconic characters. Instead, you create your own hero or villain and choose a mentor from a list of popular names. You can make characters that fly, have super speed, and much more.

A lot of more traditional MMOs have slow-paced gameplay, which can be boring for family members who don’t typically play those types of games. But that’s not the case with DC Universe Online. Instead, you’ll jump right into the fray with tons of attacks and abilities and continue to unlock more as you play. It’s one of the fastest-paced MMOs and is very streamlined and accessible for gamers of all types.

Marvel Heroes

ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Platform: PC
Theme: Superhero Role Playing Game
Developer: Gazillion Entertainment
Price: Free, with Optional Microtransactions

Marvel Heroes (the other superhero juggernaut) is a slightly different MMO game. Gameplay is not like DC Universe Online—which is an action game with the camera positioned behind your character. Instead, Marvel Heroes has you looking down on your character from above.

You click on the screen where you want to move instead of pressing buttons on your keyboard to move around. The game is only available on PC.

The result is a game that is even faster paced than DC, but lacks some of the features. For example, it doesn’t take place in a fully 3D world. Flight is limited to just hovering over the ground more quickly. You also can’t make villains. You’re limited to the established good guys of the Marvel universe. However, you do get to play as the iconic heroes and can purchase different costumes to change how they look.

Not being able to make your own hero can seem like a bit of a letdown. But web-slinging through the streets as Spider-Man or blasting bad guys as Iron Man definitely makes up for it. Marvel Heroes may lack some of the depth that DC Universe has, but it makes up for it in quicker thrills and more accessible gameplay. It’s easy to pick up and play in short bursts. This can be great for getting the family together for quick game sessions. Hopefully they bring this one to consoles or mobile soon!

Roblox


ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Platform: PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Theme: Online Building and Creation Game
Developer: Roblox Corporation
Price: Free, with Optional Microtransactions

Way back in the days before Minecraft, otherwise known as 2005, Roblox was one of the first and most innovative online building games out there. On first glance, it’s easy to mistake it for a LEGO game, but I mean that in the best way possible. Whereas Minecraft has players struggling to survive and building structures using resources from their environment, Roblox is much more flexible and customizable.

The biggest difference between the two is that once you buy Minecraft, you own the game and can play it whenever you want, either alone or with friends. Roblox works a bit differently. You have to play it online since it is an MMO and it’s free to download and play—but it charges you for additional resources and options. The goal of the game is less about survival and more about creating games and worlds to play with other players.

It may not have skyrocketed into the spotlight like Minecraft, but it’s been trucking along for a full decade now and you can download it on a wide range of devices. The biggest downside to Roblox is that it’s a bit more daunting to pick up and play than Minecraft. But if you find yourself or your kids yearning for more creation tools and options than Minecraft affords, Roblox might be worth a look.

Mabinogi

ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Platform: PC
Theme: Fantasy Role Playing Game
Developer: devCAT
Price: Free, with Optional Microtransactions

Once you visit the website for Mabinogi, you’ll immediately notice how unique and interesting the art style is. That’s because a large portion of it is actually hand painted and designed to look like a living, breathing painting. One of the biggest features about Mabinogi is that playable characters aren’t restricted to specific classes that you pick. Instead, you are free to increase any of your skills and abilities as you see fit.

And there are tons of skills to increase and things to do in Mabinogi, some of which are unlike most MMOs on the market. You’re not restricted to just fighting monsters and completing quests. You can also play music and sit around campfires with friends. You can even focus on the “fantasy life” aspect of the game and take care of a farm, cook food, and make clothes.

On top of that, your character can take up part-time jobs as well, which is a great opportunity for some under-the-radar life lessons. Even the combat system is more about prediction and planning than it is wildly attacking monsters. If you’re looking for a more unique and well-rounded virtual world to occupy and not just a monster-killing game, then Mabinogi should hit the spot.

Guild Wars 2

ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Platform: PC, Mac
Theme: Fantasy Role Playing Game
Developer: ArenaNet
Price: One-Time Purchase of $40

The last entry on this list is the biggest and most traditional MMO game. I recommend Guild Wars 2 only if you and your family have experience with MMOs. It’s also good if your kids are at least in their teens and aren’t interested in the games for younger children. I can say with great confidence that, all things considered, Guild Wars 2 is the overall best MMO on the market today.

It’s easily the most accessible and most fun to play, particularly for those unfamiliar with the genre. And it delivers the experience in the most polished and entertaining package available. The world is absolutely beautiful and there are tons of fun activities for people to do both alone and in groups.

And best of all, there is no subscription fee, unlike most of the big-budget MMO games of similar caliber. You pay once and you can play as much as you want! The story is interesting, and the fully voiced cast of characters makes for an immensely entertaining game. But once again, I will reiterate, if you’re new to MMOs or if your children are younger, I’d advise one of the other games on this list. But if you and your family are looking to move up to one of the premier games on the market, then Guild Wars 2 is the way to go.

david jagneaux

About David Jagneaux

David lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and loves everything about gaming. He has been writing about games since 2011 and has been writing and editing professionally since 2008. He has degrees in both Technical Communication and Political Science from the University of North Texas. You can find his work across the interwebs at various different publications and you can follow him on Twitter @David_Jagneaux.