Runescape in the Wall Street Journal

 Posted by (Visited 17732 times)  Game talk
Oct 052006

On the plane, I noticed that the center spot on the Marketplace section of the WSJ features an article about Runescape, a title which still seems to inexplicably fly below the radar of the mainstream MMO industry. I didn’t read the article (my seatmate would have objected to my taking the paper from his hands, no doubt!) but I did see that it included speculation as to whether Jagex, the makers of the game, would be the next to be acquired by a major media company, as MySpace was. Alas, the article is hidden behind a for-pay gate, but if you’re a member, I suppose you can get to it.

Many dismiss Runescape because its graphics aren’t impressive — indeed, the heading on the article stated they were “dull.” But skip past that — in terms of gameplay, Runescape is a very worldy world, offering a diverse array of activities that frankly,resembles UO a lot (chopping down trees and fishing are osme of the first things that it is suggested you do).

The principal audience appears to be kids in their early teens, perhaps before they get ready to move on to paying their way in games like World of Warcraft. I can tell you that it hasn’t budged from the #1 spot on the Yahoo! BuzzMeter in literally a year or two.

By the way, it’s raining hard in Vegas. I thought parallel recreational worlds distanced from reality were always supposed to cater to the customer.

  11 Responses to “Runescape in the Wall Street Journal”

  1. Jagex has rejected substantial acquisition offers from at least one major league media company already and I’m sure they’ve received other offers.


  2. Raph:
    I emailed you the text from the article. Not really all that interesting – very formulaic.

    Besides, from a sociological perspective, what could compare to WoW on South Park, anyway?

  3. […] Comments […]

  4. Steven: Thanks for the republish link!

    Fairly standard material, but good material for the average WSJ reader who does not know or play these games…

    Runescape works. My kid plays it. I didn’t even have to tell him it existed — his social network did. Now, as he moves from activity group to activity group, he finds other RS players and they trade names so they can be friends in game as well as real life. Funny thing is, we homeschool. I imagine that if my son was in normal school, he would have found RS on his own much earlier and would talk about it daily at lunch. 😉

    Jagex is doing a very good business on a very easy to maintain product. That’s smart. If they don’t get acquired, I could see them doing an IPO eventually…

  5. Grimwell –

    Why IPO? As you say, they have a great product that is easy to maintain. They don’t need the capital of a stock offering to grow, if they wanted to do another game, they could probably develop it from free cashflow. The business must be generating tons of money for the owners. The article states they are taking the company off to the Canary Islands, after all. The Jagex guys sound smart, hopefully they will avoid the IPO and buyout trap.

    The key part of Blizzard’s keynote at AGC seems to have been missed by a lot of people: great gameplay and acceptable graphics that work on a wide range of platforms = money making game. This is also seen by Maple Story from Korea, Puzzle Pirates, Habbo Hotel, Cyworld, and even Iron Realms textMMOs.

    If I wanted to build a kick a** licensed MMO, it would be based on the Lego license!

  6. IPO because it could give them more money (them = the people holding the company) in very fast order, to the point that they’d likely never have to work again. They may be making that kind of cash right now, but few can resist the ability to suck in millions and then leave the company to the board.

    Note that I didn’t say that an IPO would be great for the game…

  7. A key factor in it’s success is the fact that it’s web based, IIRC.

    I was at the public library with my kids the other day, and of the 12 pc’s there, I did a quick ‘walk-by’ to see what was on screen:

    4 running pre-school software (you can’t disable it and get to a regular browser.
    3 visiting myspace pages
    4 running runescape
    1 idle

    I’d imagine PC’s in schools are much the same.

  8. Is 2007 the year of the online game?…

    2005 was the year of social networks, 2006 was the year of online video, and Jason Miller asks, is 2007 The Year of the Online Game?Some of the stats he uses to make his point are quite interesting. According to Hitwise’s Sandra Hanchard, video gaming…

  9. […] with depth and variety of play. “In terms of gameplay,” influential game developer Raph Koster notes, “RuneScape is a very worldy world, offering a diverse array of activities that frankly, […]

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