Looking back on Runescape as it was 10 years ago, I think I can make out three factors driving its success: one, its easy place in an Internet Explorer window in a time when several gig downloads were somewhat daunting. Another, its accessibility to teens with access to plenty of free time but no credit card. And a third, a relatively measly subscription fee once those teens did broach the subject with parents.
In this bizarro new world where MMO developers seem to vault over those old barriers before breakfast and invent a new currency by lunch, Runescape’s place isn’t quite so well-defined. But the launch of its third iteration has seen it pick up players old and new just the same.
Jagex report that 400,000 players have joined the game since Runescape 3.0 arrived at the tail end of July. Of those, a quarter are reactivating accounts – former teenagers returning to familiar haunts and finding they rather like the new paint job.
Between them and the existing player base, 600,000 hours of Runescape are being played each day – an astonishing number. I only have about 24 in my days – and like a hard drive, much of that space is taken up by things I didn’t anticipate.
Eurogamer point out that the Guiness World Records still hold Runescape to be the most popular free-to-play MMO there is – citing the 200 million+ accounts created since its release in the foggy environs of 12 years ago.
Our Nick went hands-on with Runescape 3 in May. He found it bolstered by HTML5-fuelled upgrades but playing very much “like an old friend”. Is Runescape one of your old friends too?