When we think of the most popular games of 2018, the ones that dominate our thoughts are typically those that sport the largest amount of graphical fidelity, or the biggest esports following. And yet, there is a “newcomer” that is quietly growing its player population: RuneScape.
Initially released in 2001, RuneScape became the quintessential game for MMO newcomers to get their feet wet. Its low graphical fidelity married with deep content and progression systems were the perfect combination for a fledgeling generation of gamers to interact in what was one of the earliest 3D online worlds.
Over the years, the game has – like most MMOs – undergone a vast majority of changes. Quality of life changes were slowly rolled into ever larger changes that saw the game develop both with and against its audience. Inevitably, as the game shifted away from its initial vision, the demand for a return to the realm of old-school RuneScape became too large for developer Jagex to ignore.
Re-Released in 2013, Old School RuneScape was delivered unto the masses to great aplomb. Since then, the game’s popularity has blown up beyond the scope of its more modern sibling.
Now, with the inclusion of a mobile client, OSRS has spread its tendrils even further out into the reaches of the digital nether, offering a uniquely hardcore experience that one may assume was long dead.
There is no doubt that a well-tuned progression system has the power to keep legions of players engaged, driven, and logging in day after day in order to keep the game’s interest and funding well above water. But should the tuning swing too far in either direction, players will lose interest far too quickly.
While many of the MMOs of yesteryear struggling to retain players due to gruelling amounts of time that needed to be invested in the game in order to reap the desired awards, RuneScape saw its problem grow from the parallel: players found the structure of the game to be far too generous levelling/progression to be too trivial.
To some degree, they were right. Jagex worked hard to create a version of RuneScape that was conscious of the amount of free time that players had to dedicate to grinding out skill levels and completing content. The only problem was that their efforts proved to be a little too effective. XP potions that can be acquired left and right, auto-cast combat, and a sometimes overly-generous helping of XP given for even the most menial tasks, the early game of New School RuneScape was a far cry from what players loved about the original.
Now, back in all of its former glory, Old School RuneScape has utterly overshadowed its modern counterpart – and with a mobile client now released, one’s ability to log into the realm of Gielinor with utter ubiquity ensures that the old-fashioned old school grind is never far away.
While some will certainly be put off by the aged aesthetic and grind-first mentality, it absolutely beyond debate that Jagex has tapped the vein as far as their audience’s desires are concerned. Now if only there was a way to get the current iteration of RuneScape’s player population back