Runescape dev announces new sci-fi MMORPG

Develop 2010: Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard talks about how his company makes free-to-play games; announces latest massively multiplayer online endeavour, Stellar Dawn.

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Who was there: Mark Gerhard is the chief executive officer of free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing developer Jagex, based in Cambridge, UK. The developer has enjoyed great success with Runescape, which holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest free-to-play MMORPG. The company is now also moving into mobile games.

Runescape will soon have a sci-fi sibling.

What he said: Gerhard's Develop session was accompanied by the announcement of the company's latest game. Stellar Dawn will be a sci-fi MMORPG, due for release in 2011, and will be the studio's biggest game to date, according to Gerhard. The title is currently entering the final stages of development, and a closed beta will be made available ahead of release.

Gerhard's lecture, though, was dedicated to explaining the company's road to success. He recounted approaching big publishers to see if they'd be interested in Jagex's free-to-play business model. "We went to EA and said we've got amazing free games, and they said, 'f*** off,'" he explained. "We went back and said we've got a million players and they said 'bulls***'", he continued. "The necessity turned us into a publisher," he said, explaining his decision to self-publish as a result.

Despite the success of Runescape and the overall growth of the company in general, Gerhard claimed that, "2010 will be a pretty flat year for us financially". "That's OK--we're building games that become an institution," he explained, elaborating on his long-term view to games publishing. "Free should mean free…[but] our most ardent fans will always pay for value-added content."

Another of the key themes of his talk was his approach to human resources and the significant investment the company makes in developing its staff. "We have a learning lab--all our competitors' SDKs are there. We find that roughly 10 percent of our industrial placements decide to write content for themselves, and that's the acid test because that's the passion project. We'll then invest in them further." Again, a long-term plan is key to this approach. "You have to make sure your employee retention is 100 percent if you're making this sort of investment," he said.

As for the future, Jagex is keen to produce more MMORPGs, partner with third-party publishers, and continue to experiment. One of the company's employees created the iPhone/iPod game Bouncedown in the employee's spare time, and after putting it on the App Store and promoting it to the Jagex community, it achieved 4.5 million downloads in the first six weeks, reaching the top of the charts. "Not even EA and Activision can get to the top anymore," boasted Gerhard.

The takeaway: Jagex will continue to specialise in free-to-play MMOGs, such as the upcoming Stellar Dawn. It depends on its hardcore fans to finance its games and market its upcoming products. Employee investment and retention is key to the company's success. "Crucially, we're always recruiting," says Gerhard.

Quote: "One of the most valuable people you can [hire] is a self-taught indie developer. It doesn't even matter if they're s***."

Discussion

81 comments
seanin_hall
seanin_hall

I'm still looking forward to this Jagex, just waiting for you to come back to it.

eternal_blade3
eternal_blade3

Ahaha... A sci-fi game. Please, don't make me laugh. Any sci-fi MMO will be rendered obsolete with the release of The Old Republic.

Ne_rome
Ne_rome

I think we can all agree when i say this. "Runescape used to be one of the best mmo's out there. And Jagex took advantage and tried to upgrade it. Not knowing that they basically screwed the entire game up with the updates." I love Jagex, and I love RS. I still play it, just not as into it as i used to be. The game has potential, but all of it is in P2P.

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

ea must not like free games and millions of users...

Dangorath
Dangorath

mod mark is such a g[angster] cussing out EA and stuff

Neo-ganon
Neo-ganon

pretty excited for stellar dawn. its kind of funny cuz when i first played RS so many years ago i thought "man it would be cool if there were a sci-fi version of this!" man, i must be psychic cuz now there will be. its just like that time I first played PSO and thought "man they should make this for the ds!" and lo and behold they did.

ArchonOver
ArchonOver

Never really understood why people hated on Runescape so much. It isn't the best game out there but it is decent. Hopefully the new MMO will look better :).

Blazeingdragin
Blazeingdragin

@XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX Lol we'll call it a draw, and it wuold be better with original wildy. BUT WITH THAT SAID! U shuld still get on bcause sum of the new features and graphic updates r awesome and if u dont u'll miss out BIG time so check! :)

XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX
XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX

@Blazeingdragin You also got some good points there :P how about we call it a draw hear then? :) But you do have to admit runescape was better without PvP and just the original wilderness....

Blazeingdragin
Blazeingdragin

@XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX Lol u got a point but u gotta remember that there are some safe zones (Mainly Lumbridge) and theres a posibility of getting skulled but still u dont get 2 keep all of ur items. Thats why u work ur lvl up so u can hang with the pvp ppl and there (high lvlrs) proly not gettin there lvl up cuz there bored with the game and like u said goin around and bein punk and killin low lvlrs who actually are stupid 4 goin in2 pvp worlds cuz they no and act dumb so u know.

superj80
superj80

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superj80
superj80

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX
XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX

@Blazeingdragin Yeah but that also means getting owned whilst your out and about in towns and stuff by high levels that have nothing better to do than kill other people :L besides its been a while since I've played it properly, can't remember all the big details 8)

Blazeingdragin
Blazeingdragin

@XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX There is PvP in wildy u just hav 2 go 2 a PvP wrld DUH!!!!

XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX
XxF1N4L-ST4NDxX

If runescape didn't take away the wilderness PvP stuff and actually became more than a browser game, it would be great.

bisonfan2010
bisonfan2010

I said to my friend that game looks soo geeky and dumb (runescape)...I ended up playing the free version till I was a lvl 65 (facepalm) But I hope stellar dark is what RS used to be...awesome wildy pking.....no g/e crap (well...it sucked for the free players cuz the only way to make money was to merchant really) But I will try stellar dark and see what happens

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

the game had so much potential, too bad they ruined it with silly decisions like the g/e which ruined the whole economy and taking off the wilderness and capping pvp. thats when i quit.

LordRaymond
LordRaymond

Runescape was fun for a long time. Lol EA! However any mmorpg games that have a split playerbase between paying and free won't be as sucessful as something like WOW.

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

It's awesome Jagex was knocked back by EA - they have become a huge success. I started playing RuneScape in 2001, haven't had time for it lately but I've never really forgotten about it. Been hearing about their new sci-fi game for ages - it's nice to have a name to call it and I'll be there to play it on day one.

Peeweecup21
Peeweecup21

@Blueblaze02 Did i say its gonna cost money to play online no i didn't but if its not like diablo and/or WoW im not getting it maybe just becasue wasting time to get WoW exp pack or Diablo 3

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

Hope Stellar Dawn will be much much better than RuneScape. 8)

Blueblaze02
Blueblaze02

@Peeweecup21 Lol, someone didn't read the article. Jagex only makes free games with optional membership.

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

Runescape like Apple, never goes away, even when it is the underdog. but maybe someday.

X-RS
X-RS

well with kotor, i can only imagine more sci fi mmos will be coming. but they wont be FREE!

Peeweecup21
Peeweecup21

WoW is gonna kill it becasue it killed every other one so yea not buying it unless if its good like that game or diablo game so yea

lock445
lock445

Runescape is great. Jagex is a great developer. This upcoming I'm sure will attract a lot of attention and will be great too. 'Nuff said.

monson21502
monson21502

runescape rules!!!! well ruled, i got so hooked on it ,i gave away all my gaming systems last gen

bobbetybob
bobbetybob

To be fair the game doesn't even suck, it's just mostly grinding which is why it gets boring after a while.

mandmsrock
mandmsrock

Google should of invested in this instead >.> lol

mandmsrock
mandmsrock

Loved Runescape back in the day lol...never became a member but it still offered enough as a free member to keep you going, should be interesting to see something new

shakensparco
shakensparco

People may be critical of Runescape, but for what it is, its a great game. It's one of the largest and best browser games out there. Although it sucks when compared to any other MMO, as a game that requires no install and $5 a month, it is quite an accomplishment. And even though the community is often full of 12 year old's, their are a surprising number of older players and the community itself is very active. Sure, compare it to any console and PC game and see how it sucks, but compare it to any browser game and you'll see how its not too shab.

XeonForce
XeonForce

I haven't played Runescape in years, but it was really fun when I did play it, fairly cheap- not free, mind you -and it was possible to do everything there was in the game by yourself. They've changed so much stuff recently, the trading, catchy music, the wilderness isn't the wilderness anymore, and so much more, it's just a shell of it's former self. I'll always have fond memories of it though, and a copy all the old songs on my pc to remember it by.

ben151
ben151

Runescape is awesome, cant wait to see what Stellar Dawn will be like

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

Runescape isnt for everyone, but those who play it certainly enjoy its addictive nature. It may be repetitive but under the hood so are so many other games... ive put my time into it and finally decided to quit when I realized it was sucking up way too much of my time. I am interested to see what this new game is.

chingchow48
chingchow48

Runescape is a great game for the 12-15 yr old level i know i played it alot got to lvl 42 just signed in again today and it said i hadnt signed in for 1286 days lol im 17 now hahah

bigboss1203
bigboss1203

Cool, I really like Runescape so Ill have to check this out

lbptoady
lbptoady

RS sucks pretty bad, the new one probably won't be too good either but I'll give a try.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

Hopefully this will be brought to you by one guy with Java as well. Go Andrew!!!

Tornado_Volcano
Tornado_Volcano

I really can't remember last time I played Runescape. It's interesting at first but then you realize there's nothing much to do that's not repetitive...

Poodger
Poodger

RS free? Sure, the original game is untouched and free, but what you can do in that is pretty limited. 70% of the game is locked out to all but monthly subscribers. I stopped play RS about 6 years ago, when I had the sudden realization that the ENTIRE game was just number crunching with a (not so pretty) graphical interface covering that fact. Hopefully, the new game is a little more interactive in terms of strategy and combat.

terror_ninja
terror_ninja

Jagex certianly is one amazing developer and they dont get enough credit for it. Ill be looking forward to their new game, always liked runescape but after a while it got weird for me because of all the content I missed when I was taking breaks from it. WoW has nothing on Runescape.

disharmonized
disharmonized

i used to like runescape but i am worried with the new game, the current state of runescape needs fixing and i think they should either focus on rs, or they might make the same mistakes with this new game

sagameister3
sagameister3

The game gets really boring if you're not p2p, even if you're in the #1 f2p warring clan it's not what it used to be 4-5 years ago. I just play it for wars now.

FunRat
FunRat

Runescape was my absolute favorite game a few years ago! I hope this one can redeem itself from some of the "changes" that were made a couple years ago though.

GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

@tyco ex That's because when it came out we were like 13 lol, runescape is like 10 years old now i think haha

Zevante101
Zevante101

Runescape was/is a love/hate game. Hopefully jagex can redeem themselves to all of us.

tyco_ex
tyco_ex

Runescape is a decent games for kids. A great first mmorpg for when you're like 10-13. This is cool.

hesoyamdon
hesoyamdon

i was Runescape fan but in certain period when i was in lvl 65 i got bored . i wish if the developer a creates proper runscape world with good graphic like dragon age

Serentor
Serentor

loooooooool cool. i just started playing again, im one of the few on here that actually plays the game a lot lol. got 3 lvl 99 skills, not much but still love them ^^ 99 agil ftw!!!

SuperYeti22
SuperYeti22

I remember Runescape wasted two years of my life, and I'll be sure not to make that mistake AGAIN! Its THE worst game ever, its a failed attempt to rip off of WoW, and as bad as it already was, Jagex killed it with the updates! To sum it up, in two words: RUNESCAPE SUCKS!!!!!!!!