Runescape will be the main investment focus

As with many other fantasy-based games, adventuring in Gielinor revolves around questing, killing monsters to improve your character’s abilities, amassing loot and swapping it for cash to buy better gear for your avatar. Runescape also has a comprehensive crafting system so characters can learn to make and enchant all kinds of items. This, combined with the popularity of Runescape, means that Jagex, like many others, is battling the black market in items and money that can be used in Gielinor. Mr Iddison said this trade is explicitly against the terms and conditions of the game. “We feel it spoils the game for other players,” said Mr Iddison. Many people, he said, have literally spent hours adventuring so they gain the skills and cash to kit out their character and display that prowess.

Having someone just buy their way to the top seems like cheating, he said, and many Runescape fans resent those that pay rather than play. “The average paying player is on Runescape for 22 hours per week,” said Mr Iddison, “and free players are not far behind.” Jagex also polices the many kingdoms of Gielinor to stop people “farming” gold themselves or with “bots” – computer controlled characters. To catch out the bots the game hits players with random encounters. While people can deal with these they flummox a bot running on automatic that can only do a few things well. But, said Mr Iddison, Jagex has not set its face totally against games that are part-funded through item sales.

Future titles, he said, may be based around that idea. “But,” he said, “we’ve no plans to do item sales in Runescape. The game is so deep that it would mean a big re-write.” All will be online games but, so far, the company is not saying any more about them other than that they will use the same Java and browser technology seen in Runescape. Dedicated fans need not worry though as, said Mr Iddison, Runescape will be the main investment focus for Jagex for the next five years. It is not only gamers who will be keeping an eye on Jagex. Games that are free to download, browser based and fund themselves through item sales or low-cost subscriptions are becoming more popular.

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