I had heard that 60% of Runescape was for members only
Faced with such encouraging fame, Develop sits down with company CEO Mark Gerhard to discuss the organization’s plans for RuneScape gold growth, and the potential of the free-to-play model itself. Jagex is referred to as a pioneer of free to-play games, but has got the version itself reached the levels of popularity many had expected it to? I think we have. After we started out the whole business was fixated on classic retail distribution, and nobody really understood the free-to-play version, or even the internet model. Now we see the complete opposite, with a few of the greatest names in gambling wanting to do what we have done. Many businesses are not quite following our very own version. If we take a look at some of the companies that have tried to replicate what we do, like Sony and Free Realms, these businesses are releasing a free demonstration for the membership component and monetizing component of this match.
We feel that the Jagex version, and certainly Runescape, is different for this. We have released a comprehensive free game for our fans. Just to give you a sense of scale, the free game has over 13,500 hours of gameplay to itwe know this because that’s just how much time our most-dedicated free-to-play player has spent on the game so far, and that individual has not maxed out all of her abilities. So people have noticed the free-to-play model functions, but generally companies employ it in the wrong way, and only offer you a couple of hours of free play. As a result of this, our competitors haven’t seen the success that we have, and I guess they probably won’t.
I think something we’ve been really true to during is that we have two separate games; a free sport along with a members’ game. For your most ardent fans, membership is the only alternative, but for those not paying we wish to make sure people have access to some self-sustained match, not a demonstration. I’d heard that 60% of Runescape was for members only. We consider the entire game as a world. A mass the size of the Americas is free, but obviously there are different continents offered for members only. The free-to-play game has 25 quests, the members’ variant has 150. So yes it’s significantly bigger from that aspect.
How is your strategy to expand consoles progressing? Before we talked to different platform holders we did some research ourselves to see if our propositions can technically work — which obviously saves a lot of time. We have working proof of concepts on some of our products, and different pieces of our matches on different systems. Which one we proceed with is another matter entirely; do we place this MMO on this console, do we put all them on another — these are all questions that we have to consider.
We are a games studio and tech firm above all else. Of our 400 staff, about 250 are specialized, and that is simply because we build our own tools for buy RS gold whatever we want. We do a load of R&D, and the challenge for us if we could write a software package that would take our code and then output to a C# variant for your 360, Wii and PS3.