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Nirolak
Mrgrgr
(05-29-2009, 02:01 AM)
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When I read this I was pretty floored. In an interview with Develop Magazine, Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard revealed that RuneScape has 8.5 million active subscribers. To note, active subscribers to RuneScape pay $5.00 per month or higher depending upon their region and when they registered. Also of interest is that RuneScape has not yet entered the Asian markets, meaning it has a great deal of room to still grow. Gerhard also revealed that Jagex has a staff of 400, and 250 of them are actually technical staff. The interview goes on to talk about how Jagex and other companies are trying to get f2p games like this onto consoles, as well as various other topics, but the subscriber count was what really stuck out to me.

Originally Posted by Develop

Despite the vigilant work done by NPD, Chart-Track et al, games sales analysts remain trapped in the dark ages of tracking nothing beyond physical, boxed products. Itís a scenario which makes digital distribution, and free-to-play models, something of a secret success.

Every week in the UK, and every month in the US, we are not reminded of these facts:

RuneScape, the longstanding free-to-play MMORPG, now enjoys over 8.5 million active subscribers. One of those subscribers has played the free edition of the game for over 13,500 hours.

The company behind RuneScape, Cambridge-based Jagex, recently launched its own Java-based casual games portal FunOrb. Now, just a little over a year since it launched, FunOrb has clocked its one millionth account holder.

Faced with such encouraging popularity, Develop sits down with company CEO Mark Gerhard to talk about the companyís plans for expansion, and the potential of the free-to-play model itself.

Jagex is known as a pioneer of free to-play games, but has the model itself reached the levels of popularity many had expected it to?

I think we have. When we started out the whole industry was fixated on classic retail distribution, and no one really understood the free-to-play model, or even the online model.

Today we see the complete opposite, with some of the biggest names in gaming wanting to do what we have done.

Many companies are not quite following our own model. If we look at some of the companies that have tried to copy what we do, like Sony and Free Realms, these companies are releasing just a free demo for the membership component and monetizing component of the game.

We feel that the Jagex model, and certainly RuneScape, is different to this. We have released a comprehensive free game for our fans.

Just to give you a sense of scale, the free game has got over 13,500 hours of gameplay to it; we know this because thatís how much time our most-dedicated free-to-play player has spent on the game so far, and that person has still not maxed out all her skills.

So people have seen that the free-to-play model works, but typically companies implement it in the wrong way, and only offer a few hours of free play. As a result of that, our competitors have not seen the success that we have, and I suspect they probably wonít.

I think something weíve been very true to throughout is that we have two individual games; a free game and a membersí game. For the most ardent fans, membership is the only option, but for those not paying we want to make sure people have access to a self-sustained game, not a demo.

I had heard that 60% of RuneScape was for members only.

We look at the whole game as a globe. A mass the size of the Americas is free, but obviously there are other continents available for members only. The free-to-play game has 25 quests, the membersí version has 150. So yes it is significantly larger from that aspect.

How is your plan to expand to consoles progressing?

Before we spoke to various platform holders we did some research ourselves to see if our propositions can technically work Ė which obviously saves a lot of time.

We have working proof of concepts on some of our products, and different parts of our games on different systems. Which one we go with is another question entirely; do we put this MMO on this console, do we put all of them on another Ė these are all questions that we have to consider.

Weíre a games studio and technology company above all else. Of our 400 staff, about 250 are technical, and thatís because we build our own tools for whatever we need. So we do a load of R&D, and the challenge for us was if we could write a software package that would take our code and output it to a C# version for the 360, Wii and PS3.

This was in fact one of my first primary aims when joining Jagex, and we discovered that the answer was yes, we can put our code on consoles.

Making it technically possible is one thing, but how do the platform holders look at the free-to-play model?

Well, thatís a very good point, because thatís where weíre facing challenges right now and these are the topics of discussion we are having with platform holders.

My aim is that there will be a completely free game on all the consoles out there, where we preserve the current free-to-play model. I think this is where the industry should go, but I donít think thatís where they want it to go, given that everything that goes on WiiWare, PSN and XBLA has a price tag on it in some form.

Therefore I think that the free-to-play games will probably be charged at a nominal fee, so you pay to download it and, if you want, pay to receive the premium version of the game.

Thatís the thinking at the moment, though things are very much up in the air.

But of course, my preference will be to lobby these companies, to tell them that they need to catch up with todayís tastes and provide free games if you want to compete in this area.

How much luck are you having in pitching the free-to-play model to each platform holder?

really canít go into specifics; I wouldnít like to talk about individual companies while weíre still discussing things and while nothing has been set in stone yet.

Former Jagex CEO Geoff Iddison said that he wanted to merge the premium subscription model with micropayments. How do you feel about the idea?

I donít think you can take a game like RuneScape and retrofit microtransactions into it. The gameís just too big, and I donít think it would add value for our players. Obviously that system could be more remunerative, but I think it would price a player experience too far up.

Why do you think free-to-play models are so tightly associated with MMOs?

I think that many people feel an MMO means youíre going to be spending a significant amount of time on a product, and so I think the free-to-play model compliments that more because it allows players to ask Ďdo I want to spend a significant amount of time on thisí.

You have previously mentioned your ambitions to expand into the Asian markets, how is that progressing?

The technology is in place now; RuneScape can support various different languages now. Our next step is a commercial one. We Ďre thinking about where next; be it eastern Europe, Asia, South America, and so on. The honest answer; the juryís still out on that one.

Source: http://www.developmag.com/interviews...s-Mark-Gerhard
Guybrush Threepwood
Banned
(05-29-2009, 02:04 AM)
This thread is going to be full of people bashing RuneScape, but it's really not that bad of a game, especially if you have real-life friends playing with you.
pseudocaesar
Member
(05-29-2009, 02:19 AM)
Screw the haters, I got to like level 98 and my older brother is like 112 back in high school. Pretty much my entire grade was playing the game.
thestopsign
Member
(05-29-2009, 02:34 AM)
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The only good thing about RunesScape is that you can get to be a level 30 lumberjack (or whatever the tree cutting ability is). The only time I played, the one thing I did the whole time was cut down trees.
Zzoram
Member
(05-29-2009, 04:00 AM)
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Back when I played, there were 3 servers with max 4000 people. There was a professional smith that bought ore from professional miners. Everyone would go to BlueRose(smith) to beg her to smith the higher level armor for them, since only she had a high enough smithing level. It was an awesome game, but death means you dropped everything you had.

I spent most of my time fishing and cooking, to make food for healing.
Razor554
Member
(05-29-2009, 08:04 AM)
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Played the game when it was still fun, i mean back in the days (2001+) When there wasnt Wilderness yet and PvP was everywhere! It was great times. My username also comes because i was one of the leaders of Razor Clan :lol
DogWelder
Member
(05-29-2009, 08:11 AM)
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So how much do party hats go for these days?
tenritsu
Banned
(05-29-2009, 08:13 AM)

One of those subscribers has played the free edition of the game for over 13,500 hours.


WAIT WHAT.

13500/24 = 562.5 days / 365 = 1.5 years.

WHAT.
DogWelder
Member
(05-29-2009, 08:15 AM)
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Originally Posted by tenritsu

WAIT WHAT.

13500/24 = 562.5 days / 365 = 1.5 years.

WHAT.

Are you really surprised? It's an MMO.
MrNyarlathotep
I find your lack of holistic synergy overviews disturbing
(05-29-2009, 08:35 AM)
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Full disclosure; I work there, but not on RS or Funorb.

RS doesn't have that many 'subscribers', it has that many active players, I'm not sure why Mark worded it like that, but you can see the clarification in his second statement;

RuneScape, the longstanding free-to-play MMORPG, now enjoys over 8.5 million active subscribers. One of those subscribers has played the free edition of the game for over 13,500 hours.

It does have a LOT of paying 'subscribers' though. It is the second biggest MMO out there after WoW and you can pretty much continue the trend lines from the last publically released subscriber data at MMOG Chart.

Sorry I can't be more specific, but I doubt I'm allowed to give out better data.

Also to clarify, apprently his definition of 'technical staff' applies to everyone not involved in customer support, so it includes the people who write content for the website and QA.
Sciz
Member
(05-29-2009, 09:01 AM)
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Runescape has its issues, but it does do quite a lot of things right. Best quests of any MMORPG, easily.

Originally Posted by MrNyarlathotep

Full disclosure; I work there, but not on RS or Funorb.

MechScape?
BishopLamont
Member
(05-29-2009, 09:02 AM)
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1.5 years is nothing for a MMO. Pretty sure WOW players would have logged way more hours.
markot
Junior Member
(05-29-2009, 09:04 AM)
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free to play + $5 a month = does not compute!
The Faceless Master
(05-29-2009, 09:43 AM)
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Originally Posted by markot

free to play + $5 a month = does not compute!

...

I had heard that 60% of RuneScape was for members only.

We look at the whole game as a globe. A mass the size of the Americas is free, but obviously there are other continents available for members only. The free-to-play game has 25 quests, the membersí version has 150. So yes it is significantly larger from that aspect.


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