Thirteen Years After Release, RuneScape Is Growing By Asking Players What They Want


    Thirteen years after its release in 2001, RuneScape is still running. The MMORPG has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, but this past July, it went through a major “up” when it grew by 20% in terms of subscribers and active players.


    RuneScape is a free-to-play MMO where you can subscribe to access added content, and 20% is a rather significant boost. Jagex, the game’s publisher, attributes the growth to a new development philosophy they’ve adopted, dubbed “Player Power,” whereby players actively participate in chalking out the game’s roadmap for the months ahead.


    Player Power was launched in January, and since then, over 60 community polls have been held, with over 8 million votes cast on everything from larger content plans to the smaller minutiae of weekly updates. As a result, the RuneScape community has more or less set the agenda for the game’s development team for 2014.


    One of the features that has been introduced as a result of player feedback is the “Legacy Combat” mode—a system that allows players the ability to use an easier combat system in RuneScape, with a more traditional user interface. Another major feature that players have had a hand in influencing is the game’s upcoming expansion pack, Lost City of Elves.


    “Handing over control to the players was nerve-wracking at first, but our community have made great choices and responded tremendously well to the opportunity,” said Phil Mansell, vice president of RuneScape. “The steady uplift and recent significant surge in both active players and subscribers shows how important it is to players to have real ownership and shape the game they love.”


    “Like every game RuneScape had begun to suffer from years of successive decline following its initial peak back in 2007,” said Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex. “However, since the beginning of 2011 we have achieved the unprecedented success of once again turning the game back into growth starting, funnily enough, with our first ever player poll to introduce free trade and high risk PvP with the Return of the Wilderness.”


    “Since then the game continues to go from strength to strength and it’s great to see RuneScape consistently feature in the top 10 games being streamed on Twitch.”

    Ishaan Sahdev
    Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and a contributing writer at He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.

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