May 3, 2024
5 min read

What is an Idle RPG?

What is an Idle RPG?

What is an Idle RPG and Why Are They So Popular? 

Playing games is fun, there’s no doubt about it. But what if the game could play itself? Doesn’t the concept seem really interesting? Then read on!

What is an idle RPG?

While it’s quite disputable as to what is the most important part of every video game, there’s no denying that progression is extremely important for most titles. 

Your character becomes stronger, you discover more of the storyline, you unlock new challenges or new ways of playing the game. 

Idle RPGs offer progression with minimum input. Basically, the game character plays by itself. 

You do, of course, decide certain parts in the game. Such as picking gear, levelling up or making a special attack during combat. 

Specifics depend on the game. Generally though, you can think of it as an interactive movie. You watch things unfold on their own, while being able to decide certain aspects of it. What’s not to like?

Key characteristics of an idle RPG

Here are some of the most relevant parts of the Idle RPGs genre.

Automated gameplay 

The core of each idle game, both the regular and RPG kinds. Everything happens “on its own”, your decisions can speed up the process or improve the success, it is not necessary though. 

Minimal interaction 

To put it out there, you can have more interaction with the game. It’s still not going to be as much as other games due to the design of course! 

You’re meant to minimise the time you spend on it and make the important decisions.

Think about it as being a CEO and deciding the direction of your “company”. You’re dealing with the “big picture” (picking proper gear, levelling up etc) while letting employees (your hero or heroes) “achieve” these goals (winning the game or making the numbers go higher).

Progression over time

As mentioned before, progression is an important part of many games. 

Idle RPGs are designed to keep a steady progression depending on how much input comes from the player. 

Your hero(es) should be pretty autonomous. But like in real life, that progress will be quicker if geared up properly, given the right skills and sometimes a little extra nudge during combat. 

Incremental upgrades 

That’s probably the most addictive part. 

What if by spending that little bit of extra time your character could… get a bigger number faster?! Of course, you don’t have to… but if you do it gets there way quicker! 

Higher level, legendary gear, epic quests etc. And all you have to do is click here or there to “upgrade” or “improve” something. “Logging into” the game and doing a little bit of maintenance speeds up your hero(es) progress by a lot.

It’s that simple and very, very effective way to keep your attention. After all, you do want to see numbers grow big faster, don’t you?

How do idle RPGs work? 

They work well! Heh. 

But on a serious note, idle RPGs reward you for things other games punish you for. Which is not spending time playing them. 

And it’s true that it seems like the opposite of what games are meant to be. A game you do not play is not really a game, is it? Technically you do “play it”, albeit in a more segmented way. And you are still rewarded for the effort of your character(s) while you were away! 

Kind of like “passive income” you’d get from owning a company. But without the hassle of actually running it. 

It combines all these parts, creating a very pleasant feeling of achievement while putting very little to no effort. 

As you can imagine, it can be quite addictive, so stay safe out there!

Idle RPG vs RTS

Real time strategy (RTS) is quite the opposite of the idle games genre in general. 

A moment of laxity can cost you a lot. It’s nearly unimaginable to just walk away from the game in the middle of it without pausing, especially in multiplayer (unless you simply give up that is). 

Idle games on the other hand are meant to be played like this by design. You’re meant to go on about your business whenever you want to. There’s no pressure, no necessity. You’ll come back whenever you feel like it.

Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy both. 

Funnily enough, you could literally play an idle RPG in the background, while playing an RTS match! No need to choose after all.

If you’d like to see more detailed comparisons of certain genres put against each other check out our WRPG vs JRPG and RPG vs RTS articles!

Why are idle RPGs so popular?

A cool artwork is a unsurprisingly a good first point of interest!
Source: Dungeon Rush: Rebirth by DHGames

The concept of it is quite simple and at the same time, very enticing. Let’s pinpoint a few major reasons for their popularity.

Easy to start playing  

Just start it up, create the character and you’re already playing! Of course there are ways to “optimise” characters for maximum gain. Getting numbers to grow faster IS part of the fun after all. It’s not necessary for casual fun though.

Clear goals 

Goals are usually quite straightforward. Just have fun interacting with your mostly self-sufficient character(s)! Depending on the game, it can be limited to simply creating characters, while others may require choosing a task and just letting it happen automatically. 

Less input 

Some may even require only the initial character creation part. Some may require more but it’s usually just a few clicks once in a while. Reading a book? Watching a movie? Sleeping? No worries, the game is still progressing despite your other daily life activities.

Rewarding when you come back to play

Been away for a long time? Forgot about the game and decided to get back to it? Boy are you in for some dopamine shot. 

All that time you weren’t around, things were still happening. Brand new quests, awesome gear, new options to test out. You’ll always get that “feel good” sensation after coming back.

Sense of growth 

Potentially the main addictive part of Idle RPGs. 

You’ll get the sense of satisfaction seeing your character get better. After all, it’s your avatar, so his growth is your growth, right? Nothing like seeing it perform fantastic deeds, equipped with powerful items, while showing great skill in combat. Ahhh, that’s the stuff!  

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Some of the best idle RPGs 

If you like what the idle RPGs offer, why not try these highly acclaimed titles in the genre?

AFK Arena

Source: AFK Arena by Lilith Games

AFK arena is focused on assembling a group of heroes and letting them duke it out against your opponents. Winning leads to your usual better gear, levelling up and new heroes to be unlocked.

As an idle rpg, your biggest input would be setting their gear, levelling them up but also how they’re set on the battlefield.

The biggest “sell” would be great artwork, uniqueness of each hero and a surprisingly interesting story.

Idle Heroes

Screenshot image 13
Source: Idle Heroes by DHGames

Similarly to AFK Arena, you gather up heroic characters and have them battle enemies. Not reinventing the wheel here, if it works, it works. 

To get more heroes you have to summon them through scrolls. Which you get either through grinding or purchasing with real money. 

If you ever feel competitive, you can test yourself against other human players in PVP. It’s worth it if you’ve got powerful enough heroes!

Want a more interactable experience? 

Our company Dreams Quest is currently producing a mobile ARPG called Origins: The Fall of Azoria. It’ll include a colourful, intricate world full of mysteries and secret knowledge, deep lore, fun puzzles and of course action packed combat.

Check out our social media links to Twitter(x), Youtube , Discord and more at the bottom for all relevant info on its development!

FAQs about idle RPGs

What was the first idle RPG? 

The first idle RPG is said to be “Progress Quest” by Eric Fredriksen. 

The game itself is meant as a parody of the MMORPG genre. Specifically an “auto-attack” function which had the player simply become a spectator during combat. 

The “game” itself is not interactable and after character creation, it performs a “loop” of performing tasks like slaying monsters, selling loot etc. A “player” can simply observe it happen and nothing more.

Do idle games run in the background? 

While you can have the game run in the background if you want, most of them play even if you don’t actively run a client or app. It’s a standard practice to be able to shut them down without “stopping” the game from running on its own.

What is the opposite of an idle RPG?

If an idle RPG is a game where you’re meant to interact the least with, then the most opposite of that would probably be any genre that requires constant input to progress. 

For example games that require you to be online without the possibility to “stop” it even for a moment. Especially the ones that don’t allow you to “log out” and simply have your character left exactly where they’re standing, risking their demise from other players.

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