An MMO, or massively multiplayer online game, is a game that thousands of participants can play simultaneously over the internet. Some MMO games offer voice chat, in which players can wear a headset and talk to other unseen players online. In many games there is a facility for 'chat' windows, so that players can communicate by typing messages into a text field on their computers. MMO games have been shown to be quite addictive to some players who are prepared to spend significant amounts of money paying for add-ons (for example weaponry) that might help them in the game's virtual world. For some games the business model is based on a subscription that allows players access to the game. Others have a "freemium" model, where players can use the basic version of the game for free, but are charged for the add-ons they decide they need.
In July 2012, the FT interviewed the chief executive of Kixeye that makes MMO games for players on Facebook such as Backyard Monsters, Battle Pirates and War Commander. The company was so concerned about security that it had an armed security guard in reception. "We have very passionate users, we had a couple of visitors at our old offices who turned up wanting to talk to somebody and that made us nervous," said Kixeye's chief executive. He recounted the story of a Chinese fan of one MMO who was killed in real life for selling a virtual sword he had borrowed.
In August 2012, the FT reported that the US MMO game sector was under pressure from free-to-play, or "freemium" models from Asia.