Multiplayer Online Game Celebrates Growing Success with 8th Annual Convention
By John Gaudiosi | Shacknews.com (TNS)
Cambridge-based publisher and developer Jagex celebrated all aspects of its popular massively multiplayer online game, RuneScape, at its eighth annual RuneFest fan convention. Held for the first time in the brand new Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre. RuneFest saw attendance spike to over 1,700 gamers from around the world.
Beyond plenty of new gameplay announcements across the PC and new mobile versions of the game, one of the key draws was an hour-and-a-half live quest concert concoction that took place the evening of Oct. 5 at center stage with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The show provided live music from a full orchestra as a backdrop to a very British humor-filled quest that saw a knight from RuneScape and a knight from Old School RuneScape explore each other’s worlds. Entitled RuneScape Live: Gielinor in Harmony, the story-driven journey through the world of Gielinor featured a brand new storyline written by RuneScape’s narrative team. The tuxedo and black dress clad orchestra provided an interesting contrast to the cosplay and black t-shirt adorned gamers who packed the central area to take in the very “in-game” comedy that surrounded the game’s orchestral score.
RuneFest itself is quite a spectacle. Following an opening keynote on the morning of Oct. 6, the rest of the massive convention center was opened up to the public. And behind those black curtains was the world Rellekka, the Viking-inspired northern lands of RuneScape. Having just crossed the $1 billion revenue threshold, Jagex spared no expense in bringing an amazing experience to its most hardcore fans (or at least those willing to make the annual pilgrimage to this fan convention).
A cross between a huge E3 booth and a Disney World attraction, the Jagex events team brought every detail of the game’s land to life – right down to the sound of lava flowing in the mining site or the chirps of birds in the Fremennik forest area. There were even human NPCs throughout, making actual chain mail and hammering helmets into shape. And there were interactive areas where players completed activities based on the game’s Fremmenik Trials, as well as an area for developers to showcase how characters and environments are created for the on-going game’s development. And of course, there were both PC and mobile versions of both Old School RuneScape and RuneScape. The mobile games were playable inside a wintery mountain, while the PC games were spread throughout the lands, and also available upstairs in a gigantic conference room that housed over 200 PCs.
“RuneFest is at the heart of our living games philosophy, and it has played an enormous part in growing our RuneScape games to become a $1 billon success story,” said Phil Mansell, CEO of Jagex. “It brings the games, our players, and the Jagex team together to share an incredible experience that exists outside of the game. This was the biggest and best RuneFest ever, and reflects the continuing strong growth in the communities playing our games. RuneScape Live was also incredible, and I thank our team and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra for an unforgettable night.”
A big part of the annual event, which Mansell confirmed will return to this beautiful convention center just 40 minutes outside of London’s Heathrow International Airport, was new announcements.
Access to RuneScape Mobile’s new Members Beta is now officially live. This limited Beta marks the next step in bringing RuneScape to mobile devices, as the development team continues to work closely with the community to fine-tune the experience over the coming months. The mobile game, which will launch on both iOS and Android devices for free-to-play and subscribing players, features full cross-platform interoperability with PC platforms, allowing for adventures to continue while on the sofa or on the move.
The first mobile venture for Jagex will be Old School RuneScape, which debuts Oct. 30 on iOS and Android. That game has been playable since the summer through a Members Beta program.
Till Death Do Us Part, an all-new World Event in RuneScape — the first since 2016 — is playable now through October. The event sees the game’s version of the Four Riders of the Apocalypse emerge on Gielinor. Creatures pour out of the void and it’s up to players to defeat them with the help of Death, who was already a character in the game, and newcomers War, Pestilence and Famine.
Additionally, the team introduced new quests and fan-voted content that will launch this winter, including the Mining and Smithing rework; the time-looping, investigative adventure Needle Skips; and the final part of the Elite Dungeons trilogy, The Shadow Reef, which introduces a new boss encounter that sheds light on the mysterious Ambassador.
While over 250 million players have downloaded RuneScape since the game first launched in January 2001, there are over 450,000 active gamers playing Old School RuneScape. Jagex is celebrating that game’s fifth anniversary with new content that doesn’t exist in the other game. That game’s team has grown from three to 24 people now, developing exclusive new content, raids and Deadman Invitational competitive tournaments. All of this content is first polled by players and nothing is added to the game without a 75 percent approval by the fans.
Players will get to explore the elven city of Prifddinas, which launched in RuneScape in 2014. If successfully polled, the city would be reinterpreted and introduced into the nostalgic iteration next year. Entry to the city relies on the completion of a new Grandmaster quest, Song of the Elves — which will conclude an Old School RuneScape questline for the first time since the game launched in 2013.
Furthermore, gamers will be polled on an expansion of the Old School-exclusive continent of Zeah. If successful, the content would see its unexplored lands to the west uncovered and expanded in 2019 with the release of the Kebos Lowlands, and feature a raft of new adventures and activities for players to explore.
“Every year, RuneFest delivers a fantastic celebration of the games and our community, but it’s also a great opportunity for us to look ahead to what’s to come,” Mansell said. “Thank you to everybody who travelled to RuneFest’s new home at Farnborough, and we’re looking forward to returning next autumn.”
Since being acquired by Chinese game maker Fukong Interactive Entertainment in 2016, Jagex has been able to further expand its medieval MMO. The company also launched its own third-party publishing initiative, which will help developers bring their own games of all genres and types to multiple platforms in the coming years.