Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo wanted to segregate community; MMO now due for 'all devices'
UK development powerhouse Jagex is “well-positioned” to ship the world’s most popular MMO across all gaming devices, the studio’s CEO has said.
Mark Gerhard also claims that the game will remain free to play – despite platform holders asking otherwise.
And crucially, in what could mark a breakthrough, Gerhard said any future console versions of Runescape would not segregate the game’s community by console. The online MMO will always have one universal community, he said.
Speaking at the recent Edinburgh Interactive conference, Gerhard said Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo were each opposed to the idea of Runescape players interacting across rival platforms.
“Some console owners wanted us to charge five Euros for Runescape. What? It would be crazy to charge for Runescape on consoles,” he began.
"People get this for free. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. But Sony was ahead of the game, they said they get it. They understand free.
"But all three said, 'okay, but, we won’t let our console play online with any other'".
The Jagex executive appeared to be in vehement opposition to the proposals, according to his account.
“There’s no gaming advantage playing on either of the consoles. It’s not twitch gaming,” he said.
“It’s not a game where any extra computational power from the consoles will help. It would have been the same experience on all consoles – in fact everything would have worked through the cloud.
“‘But yeah’, they said, ‘we cannot let the Microsoft community play with the Sony community’. Okay fine then, we said, we just won’t do it.
“We’re not going to frame [as in, segregate] our community into boxes just for a few million more customers. Of course I’d love a few million more customers, but I just wouldn’t do it. Not at the expense of fracturing it, because you almost become the disease you’re trying to solve.”
Gerhard said the boxed publishing industry’s financial challenges mean that the “landscape will eventually change”.
“I think they [Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo] will open up their platforms a bit more, liberate them a bit more. It’s just a matter of time," he said.
“But we’re well placed to be on all devices soon,” he added, “so we can have a global community”.
Jagex has become an elite force in the UK, mainly because of Runescape. The game made £38 million in twelve months leading up to March 2009, and keeps content fresh through a constant stream of updates and patches.
“In fact now,” said Gerhard, “I think Runescape is the only MMO that’s continued to grow.”