From an outsider’s perspective, RuneScape is nothing more than a poor man’s MMO. But try telling that to the game’s loyal fans who are just as in love with RuneScape today as they were when it first released. Despite the growing popularity of more modern MMOs, RuneScape still has a strong following with millions of active players around the world.
Last month, RuneScape received the biggest update in the game’s history, the Dungeons of Daemonheim expansion. We checked in with Adam Tuckwell, the Head of Communications for Jagex and Mark Ogilvie, the Lead Designer for RuneScape to for a bit of history on the granddaddy of the modern MMO and some insight as to why it’s still so popular today.
Above: The granddaddy of MMOs is still hanging tough. Find out why
GR: Tell us a little bit about the history of RuneScape
Tuckwell: RuneScape has its origins in an early graphical MUD that was written by Jagex’s founder, Andrew Gower, with his brother Paul. Both Andrew and Paul are still heavily involved with RuneScape in the technical and content sides respectively. The first public version of RuneScape was released in 2001 as a free game and the members’ option was added soon after. In 2003, we launched the beta version of the game that that is available now and renamed the early version, RuneScape Classic. The current version received a graphical overhaul in 2008 and we added a HD option for players. Our latest addition is The Dungeons of Daemonheim expansion, but Mark will tell you more about that!
Above: MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) were like text-based MMOs. Remember logging into these sorts of games on bulletin board systems with your old modem?
GR: Are there any regions where RuneScape is more popular? Is there anything interesting you can tell us about the demographics of its players?
Tuckwell: RuneScape has millions of players globally but the majority of our players are based in the United States. RuneScape is the second largest MMO in the US and is also highly popular in other parts of the English-speaking world. RuneScape is also available in French, German and Brazilian-Portuguese.
We have an extremely diverse demographic of players, the majority of our players are aged 13 – 18 with only 8% of our players aged under 13. More than a third of our players are aged 19 and over.
Above: “RuneScape is the second largest MMO in the US…” says Tuckwell
GR: The free-to-play MMO market has exploded over the last few years. In addition, turn-based RPGs on Facebook seem more popular than ever. How/why does RuneScape continue to thrive? What draws players to RuneScape’s world, and what keeps them there?
Tuckwell: Accessibility and high quality game play is key and at Jagex we always keep that in mind when considering options for RuneScape and our other games, this ensures that we always remain competitive and is one of the reasons that players are drawn to our games. There’s already so much to do in RuneScape, but we update the game very frequently which keeps players’ interests and gives them plenty of options for how they want to play.