Since the advent of 2009, already earmarked as a year for updates and improvements, Jagex CEO Mod Mark Gerhard (MMG) has led in with an unprecedented degree of communication to the fan base. On the heels of what may be viewed as a largely successful (if short) tenure by Geoffrey Iddison, the new chief clearly wants to make the company’s daily planning more transparent to the customer.
We’ve also seen a dramatic shift in the preference of improvements over new content addition, although a vast degree of new content has been promised via the cherry-picking of convenient customer driven questions to the CEO. It certainly seems plausible; given a list of 5000 questions, someone had to ask the question Mod MMG wanted to answer.
With all the buzz surrounding these promises, however, we’ve seen one small quest in two months. While improvements have been tremendous (the noting of allotment yields being a personal favorite), it seems as though the new company is operating at a much slower rate. While Soul Wars is very popular, it is hardly revolutionary; a team-based safe fighting game with a few distractions. Hardly a new concept, and nowhere near the development content needed for games such as Barbarian Assault, Stealing Creation, or Pest Control, a game with striking similarities.
To further underscore my concern that the Jagex front office is slowing down, March is the first month in recent memory to be ushered in without a “Behind the Scenes” article. This is indicative of a few possibilities:
- The new CEO wants updates to be more spur-of-the-moment, and more shocking.
- The new CEO doesn’t want to restrict the rollouts to a month-tight deadline.
- Expect March to be slow.
There are many theories that could be supported here. Based on the total number of quests, I personally feel that as we approach 150, Jagex is preparing a large quest, perhaps of the “Hard” or “Master” level. Additionally, they could be planning other large rollouts and not spinning out small updates that may not be received with the highest degree of warmth. Following the ageless strategy of “blame your predecessor”, it is possible that the previous CEO harvested all of the developmental work for rollout in late 2008.
Is this strategy, or simply inefficiency? A company trying to build suspense and excitement for future rollouts, or a company lowering expectations for the speed of all rollouts to come? A CEO with great vision and ideas for terrific improvement, or an “all hat, no cattle” promise of big things who fails to deliver?
While certainly it is to early to judge definitively, we are certainly at an interesting crossroads in the landscape of Jagex. Last year at this time, the game was at perhaps its most difficult hour. Coming off the attempted eradication of Real World Trading (and with it, the incredibly popular Wilderness and PKing community), as well as staking removal, Jagex was handled with ire and vitriole by a large segment of its users. We have since seen the game introduce various popular new elements, and while some users are still disenchanted and have not come back, the game has seen a noticeable resurgence in overall popularity.
Where are we going now? Will we look back at Iddison’s tenure as “good old days”, or merely a stepping stone on a golden road?
More importantly, how long should we go without a good update before it becomes reasonable to panic?