If you guys were expecting a lavish article with pictures for every paragraph, colorful text in ornamental handwriting, and a frame-by-frame intro video, I apologize. That's for the paying customers only. Instead, you get this:
Runescape's released its biggest Free To Play update since perhaps members itself got started back in 2002. A new skill, seven new quests, new areas, new drops and items, and more stuff to buy on the Grand Exchange. F2P can now access deep wilderness, the area just west of the River Salve, low-level grotworms, and the Warriors Guild. If that wasn't enough, they can also now complete the Varrock Achievements.
And they get to play Broken Home. ... I'll let you think on that one.
Let's talk about the big ones a bit.
Fletching! Hope you guys have been stockpiling logs, because with the release of Fletching to F2P, there is going to be a much greater demand for them. Couple that with the fact that non-members cannot naturally get the higher tier logs, and you're looking at a gold mine if your timing's good.
Quests! Seven of them. Not big and glorious grandmaster quests, mind, but still quests. Missing, Presumed Death especially. Why this wasn't a F2P quest earlier astounds me. The Sixth Age story-line is Runescape's biggest and most epic, so why wouldn't they tease the F2P player-base with the start of the series? They are doing it now, though, so I can't complain.
Stuff! F2P can obtain and use dragon bones and hides now (get ready for price fluctuations) and interact with the Shooting Star and Evil Tree D&Ds. Leather equipment is much more diverse and complete with the addition of hard leather and studded gear to match the regular stuff, and players can now craft their own wizard robes out of cloth. F2P players can fight the Chaos Elemental now and get its boss pet, along with the Giant Mole and King Black Dragon (provided they have 99 summoning).
Pretty exciting, right? Almost makes you want to give up membership and revert to F2P to enjoy- ... pphhh. Sorry, couldn't keep a straight face when I said that. Members rules.
So the question remains; why would the game-making company do this?
The answer is simple; to make money.
Jagex is a business, providing an entertainment service to us, and despite the heart and passion its employees put into their work, they still need to get paid so they can... well, you know, buy food and stuff so they can continue to do this. Otherwise you'd end up with a huge layover rate and a really big mess of an experience.
Wait a minute, now. How is releasing content for free players going to help them make money? Isn't that the opposite? Wouldn't members decide to stop playing because they can get the benefits anyways?
First off; guys, it's Fletching. You stand in a bank and knife wood. Over and over again. Even Firemaking is a lot more visually appealing to train. If they released a skill like Construction to F2P, then I'd be a little annoyed. They chose a skill that very few actively brag about having level 99 or 120 or 200 million exp in, so there won't be much for repercussions. Plus, the F2P playbase is much greater than members, so they're effectively making a large majority of players happy while cheesing off the bare minimum. A smart move, in my opinion.
Second off; unlike many other games, you don't have to buy it just to experience it. If you don't like it, you wouldn't end up stuck trying to sell it to a third party local business. It benefits by allowing players to play a substantial part of the game for free so they can get into it and decide if it was a game for them. And I mean substantial; you could get level 99s in the majority of Runescape's skills in F2P before even touching members.
And that's just it. Not many people would want to commit themselves to going that far in F2P. If they really wanted to get into the game and see what Runescape has to offer, they could purchase membership. Or, and this is the best part, they could just spend their hard-earned wealth to buy bonds for membership and still not have to pay for anything.
Either way, F2P is meant to draw in new, prospecting players and give them a generous chance of experiencing the game before they make a decision to commit with it. Adding all this new stuff makes more people want to play it, hooks more people in to activate membership, and therefore, make more money for Jagex. And even if they didn't, they still get ad revenue for the added population.
So more players are happy with more content, and Jagex makes the money they need for its employees to live and remain on the mortal realm. Sounds like a win to me.
Until next time,