In a way, most video games are persistent: we play for a little bit, save the game, and come back where we left. Or play an online game, make some progress, log off and rest assured that your hard earned levels and rare loot won’t disappear overnight. Seems only fair.

However, there’s also the idea of a “persistent world”, especially in multiplayer-friendly games, and it goes beyond simple character-centric progression or a set of coordinates. Instead, it means that the world keeps existing and functioning after the player logs of. If you build a house to sleep in, the place doesn’t disappear, any terraforming you did will be visible for the next person on the server to come across it, etc.

Basically, persistent world games allow players to introduce long-lasting changes which can usually be interacted with by other players in the same instance of the world.

With the basis established, let’s take a look at a few games which make good use of persistence.


Release date:2013-11-19
Developer:Mojang Studios

It’s possibly the most obvious thing in the world which is why we put it up first before we move on to things you might not have expected.

Even if you play Minecraft on a server (instead of doing a singleplayer thing on Bedrock or Java), whatever you build or acquire stays between log ins. When you come back you’ll find your snazzy jacuzzi in the exact state of permanent WIP you left it in.

Of course, that’s assuming other players don’t decide to use the materials for something more useful, like a fancy defensive fence, but that’s just the nature of persistence, isn’t it? It’s there even when you’re not. Thankfully, Minecraft’s virtually endless map provides plenty of resources for simple and incredibly complex crafting endeavors, as well as some villagers you can trade with.

Key features
  • Your grand projects are untouched by the game, but they might be by other players
  • Powerful world generation algorithms
  • Incredible creative freedom
  • Two main editions, Bedrock and Java, and two core modes: Creative, and Survival

EVE Online

Release date:2019-04-10
Genre:Space MMORPG

EVE Online is probably one of the games with the highest entry threshold, not just in terms on game’s inherent complexity, but also long years of player-driven systems and relations being set up.

In EVE everything you do last until the end of time, or until somebody decides that your small trading operation flies in the face of god and profit and forcefully incorporates you into their company.

EVE is a hard science fiction game about… well, about making a living among the stars. While the game provides many, many systems, most of what you’re likely to encounter in-game is player driven. Quest givers? They are actually jobs, issued by players. Factions? Players also. Major events? Probably two factions are at war, causing server-affecting PvP. Persistence is key to everything.

Key features
  • Phenomenally complex
  • Most of the game is player-driven
  • Large universe explore and exploit
  • Has both free and paid plans

Conan Exiles

Release date:2017-01-30

Outside of maybe Minecraft, Conan Exiles is probably the most accessible traditionally persistent game on this short list.

As one might expect, it’s a survival game, which puts you, as a freshly exiled criminal, in a harsh, fundamentally unfriendly land. Left to fend for yourself, you must craft, fight, and build your way to comfort… and being logged out won’t protect your home base…

…but having an NPC crew protecting it might! Your thralls don’t disappear when you’re out, so you might want to nab a few fighters, or crafters, because it is still a survival game with a mighty crafting system, so you’ll want to turn the materials gathered in your travel to be turned into something cool and useful and worker-type thralls provide valuable bonuses.

Key features
  • Based on the classic stories by Robert E. Howard
  • Gritty and pulpy survival game
  • If you join a server, you should protect your base from other players, they might claim it
  • A thrall system lets you keep your base populated when you’re exploring or logged off


Release date:2013-03-25
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Digital Extremes, Panic Button Games

Waframe prides itself on customization options, but if customizing your superpowered battle suit was the extent of it, it would make it on this list.

It’s here because you can flood your headquarters with figurines, posters, and all kinds of clutter, for example. And that’s before you join/found a clan and get your own dojo, which has practical value…and can be turned into a massive art project.

Persistence also comes through in other ways. For example, invasion missions let players join an NPC faction conflict and fight over which one should control a mission node for the next 24 hours. Of course, no matter what, Warframe is still a super-fast paced game about ruining hordes of enemies with mighty weapons and abilities, hoping for a drop of resource or blueprint you need.

Warframe is free to play game.

Key features
  • Hundreds of customizable weapons, dozens of diverse superpowered Warframes
  • Several places you can extensively customize, starting with your own space ship HQ
  • An interesting science fiction setting with lore deepening with every update
  • Incredible depth of functional customization through hundreds of available gear mods

Dwarf Fortress

Release date:2022-12-06
Genre:Colony Sim
Developer:Bay 12 Games

The persistence of Dwarf Fortress is different from that of other games on the list. Instead of the world ticking on between your log ins, here the world endures between your playthroughs.

A collapsed settlement from the Dwarf Fortress mode could later be visited in Adventure mode, as you carefully explore once-familiar corridors now holding new threats and new opportunities.

This comes on top of DF’s depth of simulation which makes the world feel alive. Every game begins with a new unique setting being generated, and it’s not just a map. Geological processes, history, heroes and artifacts are forged in real time, and when all is ready, you can lead your small colony of dwarves to glory…or ruin because of bloodthirsty carps or something.

Key features
  • The world can persist between playthroughs and between modes, if you want it to
  • The degree of simulation is found nowhere else in gaming
  • There is an upcoming Steam version, if the old-school appearance doesn’t entice you
  • Two main modes, as well as the Legends mode for appreciating procedurally generated lore

Exegi monumentum

So ends our brief, but fruitful exploration of persistent world games, and it will stay here for all of you to read long after we log off. Jokes aside, hopefully you’ve found a new appreciation for the nuanced of meaningful persistency in games, and are ready to put at least one of these titles in your backlog.