Jump to content

Interview With Andrew


highlanders
 Share

Recommended Posts

May 3, 2007

 

 

 

Q&A: Behind RuneScape's 1 Million Subscriber Success

 

 

 

With RuneScape developer Jagex announcing that it now has one million subcribers to the $5/month browser-based MMO, Gamasutra conducted a rare interview with Jagex co-founder and lead developer Andrew Gower about the UK-based firm's stealth success.

 

 

 

An official release announcing the one million figure notes that the firm "...has attracted popularity across the globe with strong subscriber communities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Scandinavia." Jagex also recently launched a new German-language RuneScape beta.

 

 

 

The web browser-based RuneScape, for which the core audience is estimated to be from 14-24, is free in its basic, ad-supported version. However, players need to pay a subscription fee in order to receive the majority of the game updates, access to the full extent of the game world, and the ability to post to the official forums.

 

 

 

With a recent survey claiming that Jagex's RuneScape is the number two-grossing MMO title worldwide, we quizzed Gower about the genesis of the title, how the firm has got to one million subscribers without making a big splash in the mainstream game biz, and the company's plans for the future.

 

 

 

How did RuneScape start, and how has the game evolved over time?

 

 

 

Andrew Gower: I've always been into writing games, and have been making games since I was 7 - I played Dungeons & Dragons with my dad and brothers.

 

 

 

When I went to university, I discovered text-based MUDs, or multi-user dungeons. I loved the fact that these sorts of games had all these players playing at once - even when you were not playing, the world carried on without you. Because of this, I began creating my own text-based MUD, but I quickly realized that with so many of them out there, there was no way that mine would ever get noticed. So I began to search for a way to make mine stand out, and the obvious way, of course, was to add graphics.

 

 

 

With my game, I was trying to emulate text MUDs at the time, purely as a hobby. I worked on it on and off over a number of years...and I believe I started from scratch 3 or 4 times. I finally launched a version of the game after a left university in 2001. The basic plan was to run it for free, but to pay for my hobby through advertising. However, when the dot com bubble began to collapse, advertising dried up, and there was no way to pay for the game's server.

 

 

 

This was really unfortunate because just the week before I had got 3 big servers for the game, and now was left with no way to pay for them. I began asking players for donations, but quickly decided that this was not the best way to go about it - to rely on people's sympathy.

 

 

 

This is how the members thing came about, with awarding premium items for members. Of course, when you begin to have people pay for things, things become quite a bit more complicated than they did when things were free, and I realized that I needed a proper commercial side of things in order to run it as a business.

 

 

 

At this point I was quite desperate, because I couldn't afford to keep up with the game, and without funding, all of the previous work would have gone down the drain. And it wasn't as if we were offering a lot for subscribers, maybe 10 percent on top of the original game.

 

 

 

Basically what we did was calculate how many people we'd need to keep going, and came up with 5000. Thankfully, we managed to get like 2000 subscribers in the first hour, and had our 5000 in the first week. Once we had people paying, we were able to reinvest back into the game. The more we invested, the faster it grew.

 

 

 

What do you feel has been the biggest differentiating factor behind RuneScape's popularity in making it to the one million subscriber milestone?

 

 

 

AG: I think one of the biggest things is the game's continual updates. We're constantly adding to the game, bringing new stuff in and improving it. It's interesting, but with each addition, we see surges of growth.

 

 

 

We saw a huge surge with our recent addition of player houses, and again with our recent graphics update. The fact that we keep updating it, adding more to the experience, I think is key. Plus, people like having things to look forward to.

 

 

 

Do you plan on using the same underlying engine going forward - are there newer ones in the works?

 

 

 

AG: We plan to continue to use this same engine. We have been very pleased with the technology we've used with RuneScape, and we'll continue to develop future products and games using this same engine.

 

 

 

Are the game's demographics shifting over time as it grows in size ÃÆââââ¬Å¡Ã¬Ã¢ââ¬Ãâ is it skewing younger or older?

 

 

 

AG: We don't actually collect any demographic information on our users. We're actually more focused on our product than marketing, so it's hard to say. Some of the users believe that our game is played more by younger players, but I'm not entirely convinced that that is true. It might just be the fact that the younger players are more vocal, while more adult players play quieter and keep to themselves.

 

 

 

Can you talk a bit about your ad partnership with WildTangent, too -- how it's helped or evolved the company?

 

 

 

AG: Ah, well, it's a fairly recent relationship, but of course advertising revenue is a very important part of what we we are doing. Advertising was originally our only revenue source, and these ads basically allow us to run the free version of the game. With the free version, we basically break even, but of course this version is very important to us as it brings in new players and introduces more people to the game.

 

 

 

As far as WildTangent goes, they are doing a pretty good job. They are better than some of the other companies we've work with, which served up generic advertisements. WildTangent actually goes out and servers up ads that are targeted to our players.

 

 

 

What are Jagex's plans are for the future? Does the company plan to stick with browser-based MMOs, or is it ever looking to expand in other ways?

 

 

 

AG: We are quite happy with the online space, but always looking to diversify. As it stands, we don't want to move away from our strengths too much, especially since everything we have done up to this point has been engineered to support this one type of product.

2480+ total

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 115
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Why dont they just invest 1 million dollars into getting rid of macros? !million would probably bring them down quite a lot, and less people might be encouraged to quit, so in the long run theyll get their money back.

GF TIF.

 

9 November 2006 - 22 January 2008, when I could no longer stand the painted turd that is the Tip.It community. Only posting in rants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duh, but 5M is plenty enough to cover their expenses :lol:

 

Mostly, they gotta pay the servers, and why do they have so many servers? Because the game is so popular that they had to add a bunch. Wow, poor jagex boohoo :boohoo:

2480+ total

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duh, but 5M is plenty enough to cover their expenses :lol:

 

Mostly, they gotta pay the servers, and why do they have so many servers? Because the game is so popular that they had to add a bunch. Wow, poor jagex boohoo :boohoo:

I also read somewhere that they only employed 200 people, I could be wrong though.

GF TIF.

 

9 November 2006 - 22 January 2008, when I could no longer stand the painted turd that is the Tip.It community. Only posting in rants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As someone who started when there were 3 serves and no more than 200 people on them...im blown away

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lol its ALOT less than $5m going in their pockets (salaries server costs etc etc)

 

 

 

=D> to rs for finally hitting the 1m mark though

stupid forums lost my dragon count , well atleast i know i got a d chain from a dusty!

99 Fletch, Late 06

99 Mage, late 07

99 Strength, 29th June 08

99 Hitpoints, 21st August 08

130/138 cmb

sooo close

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its more than 5 mil a month though...5 mil would be the minimum they are getting, some places it's more than 5 a month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For some reason, all that info is very comforting for some reason. I think its because i now know why jagex is releasing the graphical updates and that jagex will still stride to be diverse from other games. So I'm expecting a better game, every month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its more than 5 mil a month though...5 mil would be the minimum they are getting, some places it's more than 5 a month.
Its 5 a month US. Canadians have to pay like 7$, but thats still 5US.
it's 10 canadian if you pay by phone
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its more than 5 mil a month though...5 mil would be the minimum they are getting, some places it's more than 5 a month.
Its 5 a month US. Canadians have to pay like 7$, but thats still 5US.
it's 10 canadian if you pay by phone

 

 

 

i pay ÃÆââ¬Å¡Ãâã5 which is just over 10$ now

stupid forums lost my dragon count , well atleast i know i got a d chain from a dusty!

99 Fletch, Late 06

99 Mage, late 07

99 Strength, 29th June 08

99 Hitpoints, 21st August 08

130/138 cmb

sooo close

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think jagex has alot more then just 200 people employed...The customer support section alone probably has like 200 employees.

 

 

 

Great job Jagex! =D> You deserve every cent I'm giving you :)

Retired High Leader of the Great Titans

linesig3bv2.jpg

DK: Dragon axe x55, Zerker x40, Warrior x44

GWD: Bandos hilt x2,Bandos plate x8,Bandos tassets x3, Bandos boots x 2, Armadyl helm x2, Armadyl hilt x1, Saradomin sword x3

Dragon drops: d chain x3, d left half x3, d legs x4, d skirt x2, d claws x6

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its more than 5 mil a month though...5 mil would be the minimum they are getting, some places it's more than 5 a month.
Its 5 a month US. Canadians have to pay like 7$, but thats still 5US.
it's 10 canadian if you pay by phone

 

 

 

Yeah I know some people who pay by phone and other ways and it's more expensive.

 

And it's $7.50 cad for a month and $1 CAD is around $0.90 atm which makes around $6.75 USD.

 

What a rip <.<

 

 

 

Anyway its good to hear they are making a lot, and they should spend some of it in making the game better and free of autoers :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noticed that nearly a month ago that the 1 Millionth Fletcher was ranked 31, which told me that there were at least 1 Million subscribers.

 

 

 

Still though, you think with all the money they have now (even deducting the salaries, and server costs) they could have a little bit of cash left over to improve the macro detection, and to improve the graphics a bit.

~~Let The Dragon ride again, on the winds of time~~

dragonrebornkr1.jpg

I've always felt as if I'm the only person who can understand the concept of sarcasm on the internet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True, some suscribing methods are more expensive than others.

 

But doesn't mean that its Jagex who gets it.

 

By example, maybe the additional 4CAD$ for pay by phone is used for the renting of the phone line, or the trial parties, etc.

2480+ total

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its more than 5 mil a month though...5 mil would be the minimum they are getting, some places it's more than 5 a month.

 

For credit card users (in the U.S.) it only costs $5 a month, but with pay-by-mail which is how i sometimes subscribe my pure it costs $8/month and I'm sure it costs more then $5/month with other methods too

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For some reason I'm ever more mad their priorities aren't to get rid of macroers, remove some dangerous glitches, stop the scamming (new players are still dieing with the old "wine of zamorak" scam), etc. And I'm sure Qeltar will agree with me.

When everything's been said and done, more has been said than done.

All skills 80+

angel2w.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, I never new they were in trouble back in RSC... I thought they invented members because of people were interested in a bigger game with updates. At least that's what they told us. I saw it in a newspost years ago.

 

 

 

Lol, and I remember myself thinking "I'll never pay for the game!". Oh how the game evolved :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations to Jagex on reaching 100000 members. =D>

 

 

 

I'm fed up with people, like the poster, whinging about the RS graphics. Graphics are not the attraction of RS. If it was then no-one would play it. There are a lot of other MMORPGs on the internet with fantastic graphics (we all know what they are), but I have yet to find one with such in-depth gameplay as RS. Before you flame me - yes I have tried these other games and normally get bored within a few weeks, but RS has kept my interest now for more than 4 years.

 

 

 

RS is unique in the MMORPG field, so lets consider its attractions :

 

 

 

1. The game can be played anywhere on any PC - all you need is an internet connection (any kind) and a browser. I know of one person who plays RS on an old 386PC with windows 95 and IE4 over a 56k dial up internet connection. Many of the other games require large amounts of disc space for a multi MB client and have minimum specifications for a PC and network connection.

 

 

 

2. You can play the free version forever if that is what you want. Most other games have a maximum trial period after which you have to become a member or create a new charcter and start again. Others only let you reach a certain level and no higher unless you pay.

 

 

 

3. The cost. Membership of RS is a mere $5 per month. Most of the other games are at least double, if not treble this.

 

 

 

4. You don't have to purchase an initial game before you can play. Some of the games require you to buy software to install on your PC at a cost of around ÃÆââ¬Å¡Ãâã30 and THEN make you pay a subscription

 

 

 

5. Regular updates (whether you like them or not). I cannot think of another game that has such regular updates.

 

 

 

6. Content. RS has a greater depth of content than any other game I know of as there a multitude of things to suit all types of player (some even that Jagex did not anticipate like merchants and "pures").

 

 

 

All in all, IMO, these attractions far outweigh the minor probelm with the graphics.

 

 

 

As for getting $5M per month is concerned that is gross income, not profit. From that Jagex has to pay for servers (currently around 140 of them), network bandwidth, staff costs (in the region of 200-300 people) and the cost of accomodation for all those people. I would expect that these cost would use up around 95% of the initial $5M.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why dont they just invest 1 million dollars into getting rid of macros? !million would probably bring them down quite a lot, and less people might be encouraged to quit, so in the long run theyll get their money back.

 

 

 

Its not about destroying macros, you say that as if its something that's easy

 

If it was so easy to do they would have, & after a small amount of time they would find ways around it again making the hole 1mil a wasted cause.

 

 

 

And as Jagex pointed out in the "1 May 2007 - Bots and real-world trading"

 

 

 

its not so much the macros as it is the chines farmers so to speak.

 

 

 

Your asking them to spend a mil to help remove them, when we have already been told they are working on it,

so we are in the process of upgrading our detection and prevention systems.

 

 

 

 

 

What's happening is more complex than it first seems. What's actually going on is that the VAST majority of the level-3 characters you see playing the game repetitively and not talking to anyone, are actually people from countries such as China and Korea, who are trying to collect RuneScape gold to sell for real world money

 

So they are not simple unmanned accounts but people who are payed to play like bots/marcos <.<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm fed up with people, like the poster, whinging about the RS graphics. Graphics are not the attraction of RS. If it was then no-one would play it.

 

And I'm fed up with people picking on me all the time because I actually have opinions unlike a lot of people. Make my day, and stop flaming me personally, it's just annoying.

 

Also, you totally missed my point. Firstly, I am not whining; I couldn't care less, I don't even play Rs anymore for gods sake. :lol: I am saying they could make an effort, with all the money they make, get some better graphics. Not asking for much here. :roll:

 

Of course, many games got good graphics and no content. Reason enough to give Rs some good graphics, it will make it superior than a lot of the games out there.

2480+ total

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.