Jumping into yet another year in RuneScape and my hopes are high. This month we the players got to experience Jagex keeping January updates hidden which was really refreshing and gave me the feeling of surprise that updates have been lacking for quite some time. I gushed about how I wanted Jagex to do this more and to start off the new year they did! Hopefully this won't be the last time this year that this happens because it was really enjoyable to see and a breath of fresh air that removed some of the almost monotonous release schedule that Jagex as become known for. I think that Jagex should make an effort to have their releases more like this, maybe once or twice a month, if not all the time.
Speaking of releases, EVE Online went free to play recently and I could not be more excited for what is in store for that game. I am encouraged to pick it back up and give it another go with some friends. This has relevance to today's topic because it has been something on my mind but noticeably not on the mind of those who it matters most. Free to Play Runescape. What has it been up to since I became a member so many years ago? Is this the right method that Jagex should be taking going forward?
Last time I tried free to play post being a member I had lost interest very quickly, the amount of ads for membership were borderline criminal. The entire approach that Jagex had was wrong. And though it's slightly better today ( emphasis on the slightly), Jagex still is going about it all wrong. The fact that every time non members receive an update; making Shane and any of the hosts of RSBandBUpdate! raise an eyebrow in shock, is a bad sign. The release schedule is so poor for non members in the game that it shouldn't surprise anyone that there are so few new players joining the game.
I get that free to play is an inherent demo of the game, but that is not what it use to be and the sheer about of content in the members realm our ratios non member content tenfold what it was back in 2006. This is bad, this turns the non member version of the game into less of a demo and more of an afterthought. You would think that the product that would get new players interested in the game would receive a little more attention if it's made to sell the dang game!
I am a member, most people are, in fact I would wager that a good 95% of the people that take the time to read Runescape articles on a fan site are. I also am all for the game shedding some of the members heavy time dedication for bringing in new players with the thing that is already in place. It's not hard, it wouldn't take away from any of the overall game. Jagex would still be adding content. But they would be adding content that is of high quality face value for new players that pick up the game and find out that maybe they want the huge quest arcs and literal different planes of existence that membership has to offer.
Lets not forget that this is a system already in place. Jagex can make more money by getting new players interested in the game and paying the non grandfathered membership price which to me sounds like another are that if they really wanted could tie up. If there were more people playing the game it would solve a lot of problems. Everyone talks about this all the time but everyone, even Jagex forgets to mention that non membership has it worse.
This leads to Bistro's plan to turn around areas of the game that really need it with minimal cost, effort and even so a potential and probability of revenue.
1. Remove the grandfathered price. It's time Jagex, if people are paying near double the cost of membership, tighten that belt and consolidate payment plans. This will save effort for many areas of your company such as accounting and web development,and headaches for figuring out membership revenue for the new players. Not to mention this would marginally cut costs on time for accounting, development and increase the revenue. Win win.
2. Advertise. Where the hell are the advertisements for this game besides in the freaking game? Maybe Jagex has a dumb marketing team but I would think that over here in the US that they would put in at least a little more effort into this. Do you know how much it would cost to put ads on phone game apps? Flipping Youtube videos? Why am I not seeing any of those? I could ask any of my friends who have or have not played the game in the past that are avid gamers. If they have ever seen a Runescape ad and they would probably say no or "Runescape is still a thing?". Yea.. That is the state of advertising in the US. **** poor, expecting to get more players due to their own in game ads and their behind the scenes videos. Hats off to you Jagex, fire your worthless marketing team.
3. Fix free to play. This is devoid of content and the content that it has is outdated and old hot garbage. Anyone who may meander over an ad and see that there is free to play and give it a try will be immediately turned off with the adverts and the lack of content that free to play has. It's a mess that has no attention on it. Put a couple developers on the team. Bring a writer onto the team. Jagex did it for old school and it works really well. The content doesn't have to be big, and when you want it so, collaborate to make it happen. Clean up the welcome mat to the game because I don't want to be stepping over the leftover remains from the members world.
Doesn't that seem simple? Why is Jagex not moving on any of this and why haven't they when those numbers dipped so dangerously low? Understand that a quality entry for a new player is what will bring them to pay that membership fee that allows you to feed your own family. Not adverts in your own game. There is good in the idea of free to play and it was great over a decade ago. So make it that way again. It's why I started paying for membership. As just about any veteran player and I would bet a large majority of them would say the same thing. If there is one thing that would impact you Jagex as a whole to make the game better. To surprise new players in the year of surprises, that's how you would do it.
Happy Gaming everyone!