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Christmas is the time for sharing and celebration, so as we go into the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts with you.
Overall, I’m really happy with RuneScape, the team and our community – we’ve got lots to celebrate. It’s been an amazing year to be a RuneScape player - probably our best yet - and I don’t just mean in terms of game content. The community feels stronger and more vibrant than I can recall in the past seven years.
There are almost too many things to mention, so I’m just going to share my personal top highlights of the year:
The first was the vote and launch of Old School RuneScape. The community’s passion for bringing back nostalgic retro servers had been growing in intensity, so we searched our archives and - thankfully - managed to find a single dusty backup of the game code from August 2007.
We needed to measure support, so there was a members' vote. A significant portion of the community rallied around the cause, with almost 450,000 votes registered to support the launch of Old School. Since then, I’ve keenly watched the Old School community establish itself and grow deep roots, shaping the game the way they want to, and solidifying into a dedicated service that we continue to support.
Another great memory was the release of RuneScape 3 - especially the work behind the scenes in the run up to the launch. You cannot imagine how hard the entire team worked to bring this together for you. Witnessing the team’s tireless effort, enthusiasm, dedication and unbreakable camaraderie made me incredibly proud and humbled to be able to serve them. For me, this most tangibly demonstrates their deep love for the game and desire to delight their community. We held a press event in the picturesque Peckforton Castle, and it was wonderful to reaffirm the game’s highly respected place on the world stage and to share our vision for the future of RuneScape.
If I had to choose the most recent significant event for me, it would be the successful introduction of Bonds. Though we’d made excellent progress in the battle against bots, sadly demand remained for gold farming and real-world trading services. The introduction of Bonds empowered players to be direct beneficiaries by meeting this demand themselves, and - as a direct consequence - Bonds had a crushing impact on runescape gold farming. I’m glad to see the game economy has recovery significantly since then.
But for me, the thing I like best about Bonds is that all of RuneScape’s paid premium service like membership could now be earned by anyone through their in-game efforts. Even free players can now access the entire game – as an original pioneer in free-to-play games, RuneScape has come full circle, and now Bonds allows anyone the ability to play everything entirely for free. I was also touched to see how many friends and clans used - and continue to use - Bonds to help their friends out.
If you’re reading this post as one of RuneScape’s newer players, you may have already have experienced our beautiful new tutorial set on the island of Ashdale. It’s important for us to welcome new players into the game, and I believe the new opening game experience shows our continued investment in keeping RuneScape healthy for the very long term.
Why not let us know what your best and most memorable moments were in 2013? Discuss them here.
While it’s been a great year, I believe we can only continue to improve if we reflect on some of the things we didn’t get quite right. We’re as human as the rest of you, so we make mistakes too. What matters most is that we learn and improve, so we’re always making a better game and giving you a better service.
One of my personal disappointments is that we haven’t yet met our full ambitions on the HTML5 game client. I tried to get well ahead of the tech curve; a massive effort was put into re-coding our entire game to take advantage of an emerging web technology to give our players the best possible experience. Unfortunately, we got there far too early, and are still waiting for the browser platforms to catch up. On the bright side though, this work has positioned us very well for the future, so we know it’ll come good in time.
The other topic I wanted to address was network service instability. This year we had two spates of DDoS flooding, performed by malicious individuals who tried to interrupt our connectivity and damage the game experience for you. I want to apologise again for the inconvenience any of you may have suffered due to these troublemakers, and reassure you that - in response - we have made major upgrades to our infrastructure; have a number of criminal investigations underway; and - overall - are more robust than ever.
I say this all the time, but the thing I’m most proud of is our community – you, as our players, deserve the most celebration.
Meeting so many of you again at RuneFest was as joyous as ever, and to see how many of you share our passion for the game and your fellow members of the community was truly uplifting. It was particularly inspiring to hear about the players who had bought 88 RuneFest tickets with Runescape Bonds their clans had donated to them. The first livestreaming and videos from this year’s RuneFest also meant the wider community could ‘attend virtually - so even those who could not make it in person could still get involved from the comfort of their computer.
At Jagex, we’ve always done a lot for charity, which makes the Well of Goodwill especially close to my heart. It showed the abundance of generous spirit from our players and helped enrich the lives of disadvantaged young people those significantly less fortunate, with over $90,000 donated to worthy causes.
True community isn’t just big player events or a large collection of people playing the same game. It’s in the day-to-day dialogue and genuine relationship between players, and between us as the game’s creators. I feel that in 2013 we got even closer to the community – our CM and video teams are stronger than ever, JMods are actively engaging on the official forums, Twitter and Reddit, and players have even started to shape the game’s story through world events.
The RuneScape community is a really special place to be right now, and it’s going to get even better.
I hope you can tell just how highly we value you as players. You are our celebrities and that’s who we want to celebrate – Here’s a very big ‘Cheers’ to YOU!
Our aspiration is to continue to find ways to connect the game with the community like never before. The recent release of the RuneScape Companion App is just an initial taste of what we’ve got planned – we want you to be able to play the game and get involved with the community, no matter where you are or what device you’re using.
2014 is about you. Your ideas, your passion, your game. RuneScape would be nothing without its amazing community, and we’re going to work with you to make sure you get the game you want to have. RuneScape has a fantastic future ahead, and we are going to make sure it’s the players who are leading the way.