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RuneScape Passes 1 Million Subscribers

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the hard-not-to-like-penguins dept.

Role Playing (Games) 48

An anonymous reader writes "The online Java-based fantasy MMOG Runescape has reportedly surpassed 1 Million paying subscribers. Gamasutra has a Q&A article with the Jagex co-founder and lead developer Andrew Gower about the UK-based firm's success. 'Counting roughly 4.6 million who play the free version of the game, RuneScape has more than 5.6 million players, says Constant Tedder, managing director of Jagex. As such, it represents credible competition to the big kahuna, World of Warcraft, which has topped 8 million paying subscribers. Part of the secret, Tedder said in an interview, is that the game doesn't take itself so seriously. In one recent event, players could transform themselves into penguins and infiltrate the penguin army to see what they were up to in the penguin underworld. The game has been growing largely by word of mouth.'"

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Outlaw Penguins (1)

Aaron Denney (123626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004639)

Penguin Underworld? That sounds like the penguin mafia of kingdom of loathing...

Re:Outlaw Penguins (5, Interesting)

khedron the jester (888418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004791)

All I could think of when reading this was "1M Subscribers... and 10M bots/grinders".

Seriously, the number of Chinese people either using bots to grind or doing it manually, then selling the gold they make for real world money, is ridiculous. At times my brother (who's about the right age to play the game) has seen swarms of level 3 players chopping down wood for money. You start at level 3, so basically these people have accounts simply to chop wood, not to train up.

The problem has got to the point where Jagex are banning 8000 people a day.

Here's a release from Jagex, the company behind Runescape, about it: http://news.runescape.com/newsitem.ws?id=785 [runescape.com]

Re:Outlaw Penguins (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19006427)

> At times my brother (who's about the right age to play the game) has seen swarms of level 3
> players chopping down wood for money.

You know, the "I have a friend" line is one of the surest signs of denial.

Happy leveling. Let us know when you get that abysmal whip. ;)

Re:Outlaw Penguins (1)

Olix (812847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004827)

It reminds me of the Prinnies from Disgaea.

*THE* grind (5, Informative)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004685)

This game will never be competition to the World, mainly because it's very grind focused. Sure there are quests, but only 100 or so when I was still playing (and at that all but 20 or so were for members only). These quests might get you a few levels if you're lucky and low level, but the majority of leveling is from the grind unlike the World where you get some actual levels from quests and there are a ton of quests.

Re:*THE* grind (3, Funny)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005321)

Are you trying to say World of Grindcraft isn't grind focused?

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005367)

Not near as much and it has a lot more options to take the focus off of the fact that you are grinding.

Re:*THE* grind (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19007013)

Are you trying to say World of Grindcraft isn't grind focused?

Runescape makes World of Grindcraft looks like a single player game with cheatcodes. If World of Grindcraft was designed by life-sucking vampires, then Runescape was designed by The Man himself.

In Runescape, there are currently 23 skills that can be levelled to a max of 99. Each skill takes so long to level that you think of each one in terms of what percentage of the remaining number of hours that you probably have left to live you will be spending. I am not joking.

I am a level 94 smith, and I will be spending approximately %.1666 of the remainder of my life to get to 99.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008175)

And what you get for playing this crap?
Any skills besides resistance to carpal tunell syndrome?
Do you have fun clicking mindlessly for weeks to add another digit to your level/score?

Re:*THE* grind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19013061)

Do you have fun clicking mindlessly for weeks to add another digit to your level/score?

I see you've never really "played" one of these things. Consider yourself fortunate. I will try to explain how it works and what the mechanism for compelling continued interest in repetitive tasks is.
(I am the same AC as who you replied to).

It's a form of addiction. We're talking about a technologically advanced human reward/response conditioning system here. We're talking about a virtual Skinner box, with the player as the rat or chicken pressing a lever in the hope that a pellet of temporary satisfaction will drop out of the chute.

It is fun to play to one degree or another, though perhaps it's a lot more fun earlier and a lot more like work later. Rewards come at random intervals but relatively quickly at first in these kinds of games, and then are gradually spaced farther and farther out as the player continues. The player is conditioned to get used to the ever increasing amounts of time between rewards, and thus are able to tolerate amounts of time spent doing repetitive tasks that seem incomprehensible to an outside observer who is just discovering this scenario.

Understanding this addiction mechanism is one of the keys to developing a successful multiplayer online game. A well-designed grind can extract monthly revenue from players/addicts for years.

Any derision that you may feel toward addicted players is pointless.
Players are not likely to (I don't) care what you think, although I may be amused at any naivete exposed by reactions such as "Why don't you just stop playing?" Eventually all players do stop, but only when the motivation to do so finally comes from within.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

1.000.000 (876272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008383)

Lets first be clear on what grinding means and how it differs from questing. Grinding is where you kill mobs without having a quest to do it.

Questing is where you kill the same mobs but only because you have a quest to do it. When you have reached the objective you go on to your next quest.

Since you can level from 1-70 by questing in WoW its hard to call it grind focused.

Games like EverQuest are grind focused, because you simply could not level without grinding.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008507)

So the difference between questing and grinding is that when you grind, you choose the quest yourself.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Morth (322218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009197)

Lets first be clear on what grinding means and how it differs from questing. Grinding is where you kill mobs without having a quest to do it.

Questing is where you kill the same mobs but only because you have a quest to do it.


That's in no way true. What you are describing is grinding vs. grinding quests. Of course, World of Warcraft mostly contains quests that are about grinding, so I can see how you got it wrong. There's some exceptions, but I'd say even if you look for those other quests, you have to do at least 10 times as many grinding quests as others to reach top level.

If you play almost any single-player RPG, you will find that the quests are about going to a certain location, or figuring out how to get past a locked door, or how to convince a certain NPC to hand over an item. They might include killing monsters, but just as likely you just have to talk to the right NPCs, or maybe as a rogue you can sneak past everything.

Those quests might or might not fit in a MMORPG. I don't see any reason they wouldn't, there's certainly plenty of them in the MUDs that predates MMORPGs. It's not really important though. The answer to the question "Is World of Warcraft all about grinding?" is definitily yes.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Qaztal (700176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032679)

One reason why logic based or searching based quests do not work well in a MMORPG setting compared to RPG setting is walk-throughs.

In a RPG single player setting no one really has any problems if a person works the entire game out by themselves or by following a walk-through.

In a MMORPG setting if the game was a simple to level as following up a walk-through some people would be max level in under a day, while others would be struggling through the first few levels. The competition (other players) is what makes it a lot more difficult to add purely logic or thinking based quests into a game with multiple players competing against each other. With some required grinding there is at least some minimum time added to the equation.

It is one reason why I believe the MMORPG genre will never completely devour the RPG genre.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19018229)

Not until you hit high levels, I think. I'm currently lvl 48 and I have done virtually no grinding. I usually play for 1-2 hours on a day, and except for maybe some instances, I have not done the same thing on consequtive days. Literally every day there is something different for me to do.

Re:*THE* grind (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19018825)

WoW is nothing but a grindfest. How do you get better gear? Grinding the same dungeon over and over. How do you level? Grinding through pretty much a set variety of quest dungeons, or grinding on monsters in the wilderness (which is much less effective)
For a game that ISN'T about grinding, and is about player freedom, look at www.darkfallonline.com

Re:*THE* grind (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19019891)

I do quests almost exclusively. Some of them do require you to kill X mobs of a certain type, but that's about as "grindy" as it gets. I like a lot of the quest story lines. A lot are also about killing a certain iconic figure "boss", finding an item, bringing some message or item from A to B, answering a certain question, etc.
I usually do quests when they are green, and I think I get about 75-80% of my xp from quest rewards alone. I can have 2-3 blue bubles at the start of a level, and still have a blue xp bar when I level to the next.

I call something grinding if you you do it for the xp/item/money you get from killing the mobile. I get most of my money from herbalism, and most of my xp and items from quest rewards.

Moar liek 1 milyun suckers. (0, Troll)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004703)

amirite?

Thats all the world needs, more runescape loserz:P (1)

3on3 (1007539) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004753)

"The game has been growing largely by word of mouth." I must know almost 10 people who play this game and its annoying hearing them talk about it all the time>:(

KO? (1)

socerhed (908637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004761)

I don't know if my information is correct but doesn't Knight Online have 20 million players, paying and free combined, worldwide?

Times sure do change... (3, Insightful)

Amani576 (971730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19004777)

The fact that I've recently started playing again doesn't help this...
After a three year abscence... It's changed a lot, and the people are worse... and far more immature...
But, if you get past the immature players, and look for the people like me, who've played for quite a long time (2001 started my first character - Which I still play - Domon Kashu [Yes, after the G-Gundam character]) the game can still be enjoyable.
But regardless...
I was amazed the other day when I realized that total there was over 100k people playing at the same time... when, back like... four years ago the most you'd see during prime hours was like... 13k...
Goes to show you how time's change... and how games, no matter how cheesy, campy, or awesome (maybe in this case) stick around because people like it...
Say what you want... Runescape is a train that probably won't ever stop (at least for a while).
GR

younger players (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#19013923)

There is a large contingent of younger players. My 10 year old son plays and so do several of his friends from school. I think one of the reasons is that pretty much any computer can play it as you don't need an expensive video card. Mom's Dell with the built in graphics will work fine. The other factor is cost - you can play free or pay $5 a month. I think it's easier to convince a parent to pay $5 a month than $15 for a game like WoW.

That reminds me... (2, Funny)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005249)

I haven't logged in for over a month!

One reason its popular (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005415)

Its very easy to start playing. You can create an account and enter the game in less than a minute without leaving your browser. Games requiring a 300mb+ download or physical disk are at a disadvantage there.

Re:One reason its popular (1)

Mr. Capris (839522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007923)

Like so many things, Runescape is easy to start. And really hard to quit.

I cite it as my sole reason for vowing to never touch WoW for fear of being anywhere near as badly addicted as I was to Runescape.

But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19006149)

I know its free, but Guild Wars is about a billion times better looking (and strategically far deeper) -- and it costs $40 with no monthly fees whatsoever. I find it amazing that anyone could pay a monthly membership for a shockwave game that looks like its from the early 1990's. I've played RuneScape and WoW and I have to say GW is probably the best deal in MMO gaming I've seen to date.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19006429)

GW is not an mmo

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007151)

And the defining characteristic of an MMO is what exactly?

Enter any town and there are hundreds of simultaneous players there.

That's massively multiplayer. Who made you the god of semantics?

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19011329)

GW is a MMO-3dchatroom, and a (non-M)MORPG. That is an important distinction. You can walk past a hundred people in town, and talk to thousands, but when it comes down to actually playing the (C)RPG part of the game, its strictly a 6(?)-person game. GW is just as much a MMOG as Diablo was, the only difference is that Diablo had a text chat lobby and GW has a 3d avatar-driven chat lobby.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19015985)

20 simultaneous players in GVG...

Not to mention the fact that for some reason you're excluding towns from the "game". As if they're not a completely vital part of a MMO.
Buying, selling, trading, crafting ... that's all "the game", not just a "chat room". And even if it were: "chat" is also part of the game.

Once again, you're using your own semantics to prove your own definition.

Circular.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

Phyvo (876321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19020037)

OH NOZ! I guess we have to call all FPSes MMOs now because you can have 40 people playing at once! That's HUGE! ...

not.

The thing about the town though is that it's only one part of the game. Say I made a game where there was a world map in which everyone was represented by a dot. When your dot ran into another dot you two people played a game of chess by yourselves. Would you really call that an MMO just because of the world map? You might say that it has MMO elements, or that it is an MMO meeting place for chess players, but to say that "the game is an MMO" is deceptive because not all of the world is persistent for everyone.

What about instances and battlegrounds? Those constitute a much smaller fraction of the world than GW's everything-except-for-towns. You spend most of your time in WoW in a place where you can just run into other random people. Not so in GW.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19034975)

mod parent up.

He's right it's not an MMO

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

Mr EdgEy (983285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19006761)

It's java. And RuneScape is one of the biggest examples of gameplay beating graphics, something draws a lot of people to the game. £3.20 doesn't exactly break the bank.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19015057)

Right, because clicking on rock to make money for 3 hours is what I call fun.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19006855)

I agree. Want to buy some Guild Wars gold with Runescape gold?

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008199)

Runescape is Java, not shockwave, and is cross platform. Guild Wars on the other hand appears to be Windows only. Since they target different platforms, they are not really direct competitors.

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19010607)

I once made this same mistake, but there is a big difference between FREE and $40. Especially to a ten year old kid, or some young dude in Techsupportti who can feed his family for a month on that and plays at work.

Once those kids are fourteen and have their own website business, they can shell out $5 a month to explore a little more and keep the character they've grown attached to.

(Then they get hired by GOOG and prolly start playing WOW level games.)

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

hemna (205532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19010851)

I completely agree. I cannot comprehend why people pay to buy the game, and pay for it every month...again and again when there is Guild Wars out there. It's effectively the same game w/ out the monthly tax. WoW can jump off a bridge

Re:But... Guild Wars is basically free.... (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022523)

NOOOO! Not my copy of WoW!

*Dives off the bridge, reaching for the falling copy of WoW*

Too bad they're all 13 (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19007797)

I HATE THAT GAME! I played it for like a year or two and omg I've never seen so many annoying little kids in one game before. The graphics are horrible, the gameplay sucks, the leveling is unfair at best, and there's tons of scammers and spammers. It's really a horrible game. The fact that it's that popular is insane but the gameplay is simple, which is why it's mostly younger kids. But to anyone over 15, it's unbearable. Most people in Silkroad Online, a free DX9 game with about 100,000 players, is almost all 18+ people and it's sooo much better to play with those age people instead.

I agree! It's horrible (1)

addictslashdot (1097957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008911)

filled with all kinds of scammers.All about money making, terrible game operation!

The real big kahuna (1)

lieutenant_Zaz (938416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19011239)

The big kahuna is WoW. Not.

The real big kahuna is Maple Story [wikipedia.org] . It has a combined total of over 50 million players in all of its versions.

The problem (1)

bredk (838817) | more than 7 years ago | (#19012609)

Jagex thinks trying to cure the disease is the solution, rather than stop it. This mentality has only fed the fire, making the game absolutely inflated by bots. Oh, well.

profitability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19012957)

I wonder how profitable Runescape is? Must be making shed-loads of money... not that they appear to spend it on their staff (GBP30k for a sysadmin, sheesh! [jagex.com] ). Heard rumours that they're not the nicest employers either. I guess they think their staff are so desperate to work for such a cool company they can get away with it!

Re:profitability? (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 7 years ago | (#19049979)

I have reasonable evidence to support that theory: FOAF works there and is treated like an indentured servant.

I've walked past their office at lunchtime and it's quite interesting how huge numbers of people all leave at the same time (presumably to escape from their grind as long as possible, by heading off to the pub to get some anaesthetic!) all wearing goth t-shirts!

runescape (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19018849)

I like Runescape because it is free, easy, and doesn't need a lot of time. With runescape you don't need to get in some top guild to do the same grind instance a million time to get the chance of getting one item. It's a funny little game you can go in and duel people and level at your own pace. and you can be lvl 60 like me and still fight lvl 80+ creatures. WoW is a fun game, but it is too demanding to keep pace with everyone where are runescape you can forget about it and come back at it is still the same.

Re:runescape (1)

Flightless Birde (1076891) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031343)

I agree with you, it is fun and can sometimes be quite addicting. I have a level 40 something guy and I still have a WoW account. I find time to play both, often when I get bored of one of them.

Re:runescape (1)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19033917)

I just recently got in to silk road online, it has really good graphics and it's FREE. It's fun too so far.
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