Even after almost a decade and a half on the web, free to play MMO Runescape and developer Jagex are still finding ways to grow their player base.
I can still remember quite clearly the first time I ever tried Runescape. I was in the computer lab at school, where they access to blazing-fast (for the time) Pentium 3’s at every station, and I had completed all my assignments. Like any good student, I took the opportunity to take advantage of the school’s faster-than-dialup internet and engage in the activity computers were really meant to be used for: Games.
I found Runescape.
Runescape has changed a lot since those early days of low-res 16-bit sprites and clunky controls. Now featuring beautifully fleshed out graphics and much deeper, more nuanced gameplay, the developers at Jagex have strove to keep the game as up to date and fun as possible. Over the last year or so, that drive has started to pay off, as recently Runescape saw a massive upswing in its active user base: not bad for a game that is approaching a decade and a half online.
How has it managed to do this?
According to Phil Mansell, Vice President of Jagex’s Runescape branch, it’s all down to letting their players have a say in what happens to the game.
“Community collaboration has been one of Jagex’s strengths and this year we took that philosophy to another level with the Player Power initiative. Handing over control to the players was nerve-wracking at first, but our community have made great choices and responded tremendously well to the opportunity. The steady uplift and recent significant surge in both active players and subscribers shows how important it is to players to have real ownership and shape the game they love.”
With their Player Power initiative the Jagex team has set out to improve user input into what, exactly, goes into or is taken out of the game. In the case of Runescape, this has involved the implementation of massive user polls getting community input on everything from upcoming content additions down to UI and balance tweaks. The goal of the plan was to increase player interest in the aging game, and so far the plan has worked: with a massive 20% increase in community growth in July alone, the game is on its way to becoming a force in the MMO industry again, and cementing its viability for many more years to come.