Between all the negativity and other screams of, "See, this is why RS will be dead in a year!" I thought it was high time to take a different look and provide something of a counter-argument.
What is one of the most common complaints? Well, besides yet another training spot being swarmed by bots, it's always been that some recent update has ruined some aspect of the game, or some evidence of Jagex being in serious trouble.
But the same updates that ruin the lives of so many shut-ins also bring back people who quit long ago. Most people who subscribe to RuneScape (about 1.3 million now) have invested enough time in it, and made enough progress with their characters to check back with the game after a while.
The EoC is a perfect example of this. Many people couldn't adjust to the new combat system and either quit, or stopped using combat altogether, something that is now painfully visible in the PvP clanworld. But others liked it enough to return to RuneScape, sometimes helped by the fact that this combat system is more like the ones seen in similar games like World of Warcraft.
While you can definitely point out the more destructive updates when looking back, it's hard to say if it had any significant impact on the game at all. Subscriber numbers occasionally dip but the general trend is still upwards.
So people keep coming back to this game, but are the updates the only reason? Most games you will eventually complete. Sure, RuneScape is always changing, and there is something new to do almost every week. But is that all?
Some people take it for granted these days, but saving your progress is done automatically. Even when X-ing out, whatever you did last (provided you're not about to be mauled to death) and wherever you did it is what you'll find next time you start playing. And you can start playing from the other side of the world without the need for an elaborate installation process.
Yes, other games have that too, but RuneScape is a little more elaborate than Angry Birds.
Sadly, RuneScape is still missing a vital element that the previously mentioned games do have. World of Warcraft and Angry Birds are mainstream enough that you can talk about it at parties without looking like a massive awkward idiot. But how many times have you gone red-faced when someone asked you what you were doing with all those hours spent online? Or did you just lie about it?
I wonder what would happen if RuneScape was advertised during the evening news, rather than just on Cartoon Network. Or if they got someone to plug RS that HASN'T already been employed by Blizzard. Seriously, the list is endless, and it looks like they hired every single reject from the first Expendables movie.
While 10 million subscribers is probably Mark Gerhard's wet dream, judging how people spend their money these days, I think that the F2P worlds would see the most traffic increase. But all it takes is for RuneScape to be mentioned once in the next viral music video of Gangnam Style proportions for the servers to be unreachable for a week.
Speaking of reachability, isn't it annoying that you have to fire up your laptop before you can log in to spin the Squeal?
Last we heard from MMG, he was "... happy to report that we also have a dedicated Future Tech team working on bringing the game to your favourite tablets, platforms and even smart TVs in due course..."
Playing RS on my smartphone.
Say what you want about the competition, but World of Warcraft, Skyrim, League of Legends, GuildWars, you name it. None of those games are actually working on getting their stuff off of your computer, and on to your TV and hand held devices. They are investigating it, sure. But in business terms that means nothing but procrastination.
In the end, none of this should come as a surprise to any of you. Anyone who's played RuneScape long enough knows that the game will always be there for them when they feel like playing it. The twist is this time is not about whether or not you are still playing "your" RuneScape, it is about HOW you will be playing RuneScape.
Happy New Year, everyone. May 2013 guide you to calmer waters.