I seem to be on a roll recently with British developers and in this update I wanted to touch on Runescape developed by Jagex Games Studios. Runescape is the worlds biggest free MMORPG and hit 200 million accounts in July 2012. This game has been running for 12 years now and over the course of that time it’s just got bigger and better being played by millions of people around the world.
I’m not going to pretend to you that I’m any great expert on this game, in fact I know very little about it – which is something I’m looking to correct. You definitely have to get used to being behind on some things if you’re particularly into the MMO genre, playing something well and getting the most out of it takes time and dedication and there are jut so many god MMOs out there. What I did want to share with you is the same fascination that the idea of this game holds for me and why you might want to try it too.
The game has been built to run in Java through a browser, you can pick up anywhere without having to install the game client on every machine.
It’s got outstanding graphics
Something I always love to see in an MMO, as much as the gameplay it’s the journey of exploration and Runescape has got some great visual designers behind the scenes including Tim Chatfield (Lead Designer) and Tursan Raja (User Interface Artist).
It’s constantly evolving
This year sees a new game engine as well as new episode-release game content.
It’s choice driven and dynamic
Events are designed to produce unique instances.
It brings you dungeon crawling
The dungeoneering ability allows you to explore dungeons that are created on-the-fly based on your skills or the skills of your group, play by yourself or take four friends with you.
It lets that great British sense of humour shine through
This is most evident through the storytelling, including references to greats such as Monty Python and Red Dwarf.
You can play Runescape for free now at: http://www.runescape.com and join millions of others battle in this medieval fantasy world.
If you’re an MMO junkie like me you’ll be used to paying your subscription fee or even fees for your games of choice, but in the last 12 months there has been a distinct shift with a lot of the games out there to utilise the free-to-play (F2P) model. You’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that it’s been a contentious issue which has divided the gaming community. There are so many different MMORPGs out there for you to choose from and if you are unsure of the style you want to play the F2P model is definitely a great way to find out what it is that you like doing, mmorpg.com have a great A-Z list. If you do already have friends playing something like World of Warcraft, Diablo III or Guild Wars, or you are happy to pay the flat/subscription fee these are great games to get involved with and there is a big community out there to help you find your feet.
But what is F2P exactly?
F2P games don’t require you to pay a fee to play the game, you can play forever, for free. Some players will then choose to spend money on things within the game via in-game stores such as new gear, experience boosts, aesthetics (e.g., hair and appearance), repairs, etc.
So, why are some subscription-based MMOs moving to this model?
Subscriptions can be a barrier to adoption, you have to persuade people to commit to a regular monthly payment. This model allows anyone to try the game and enables those people who decide to get more involved with the game to buy things that they want within it to make their online experience more enjoyable. Gamers can also play several games at the same time without incuring several subscription costs. It’s great for software companies because they can get more players to try their games which means that games no longer need to appeal to a mass-market, you can now have successful, profitable games that can corner a niche in the market.
In that case, why are people still going with the subscription-based model?
It all comes down to MMOs being able to justify their subscription fees in the eyes of the gamers. World of Warcraft for example, still looks relatively safe, especially given its revitalised subscriber numbers following the release of Mists of Pandaria, but for other games it may just be a matter of time. While F2P may seem like a good way to give consumers more options, not everyone is happy about it. Unlike monthly subscriptions, there are many variations on the F2P model. They may not have time limits like free trials but they are often limited in other ways to encourage gamers to spend money in-game. As a result, the amount that a F2P game can actually be enjoyed for free varies greatly from player to player and between games.
Is there an answer to this question of F2P or subscription?
Not really, but it’s worth noting that they are not mutually exclusive. In some cases a F2P version is coupled with an optional subscription plan that includes access to all of the game’s features. There are always going to be different play models and I think it’s just a matter of finding the model that works for the game and also for the gamer.
If you are thinking of trying out an MMO for the first time, or if you want to try something new, we’ve shortlisted 5 free MMOs that you can try right now:
4. Planetside 2 Truly epic, massive combat on a scale never before seen in stunning detail.
5. Runes of Magic Comparable to WoW, but with dual class system, which allows you to enjoy the skills of both.
There doesn’t seem to be a perfect business model for MMORPGs, not now anyway – so we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for future developments and keep you updated on what’s happening with MMORPGs in 2013.