I'd like to introduce myself to you all. My name is Mark Gerhard and I am the new CEO of Jagex, the makers of RuneScape. I have been fortunate enough to have worked at Jagex for some time now and consider us to be first and foremost a games developer. We’re driven by teams that not only care passionately about games but also actively enjoy playing the games we create. We are going to be making a number of improvements to the game, I'm also keen to clear up a few misconceptions about RuneScape at the same time and I also believe there are a few things we have done wrong in the past that I want to apologise for.
To start off with, we want to be more open and listen to our players. Some of you may consider Jagex a secretive and closed-off company which isn't how we want to be perceived moving forward. Unlike most other companies, it just isn't our style to spend our time self marketing or shouting about how great we are, we prefer to just get on with it and make cool games, but that doesn't mean we don't listen to what you have to say.
A good example of this is that a lot of free players told us they found our video adverts before the game annoying to the point it was putting them off playing, so we've scrapped them with immediate effect. We now appreciate that it can be frustrating having to sit through a video advert when you just want to play RuneScape, so we have to put our hands up to admit we made a mistake and say that we're sorry. To be completely candid with you, video adverts generate significantly more revenue than other adverts, but as one of our fundamental philosophies is that having fun is more important to us than making as much money as possible, we have removed video adverts from the game.
We are also planning to change the way we communicate with you. We are going to be bringing back Development Diaries but making them more regular and focused on some of the different projects we're currently working on for you. These will replace Behind the Scenes, which we have found a creative constraint on our developers as the promised content has to come out as communicated in order to avoid disappointment and prevented us from surprising you with better or different content. It has also led to compromises in quality that we've not been happy with and, most importantly, pieces of content being released which you, our players, have not enjoyed as much as you should. A side benefit of this is that we'll be releasing more content which will be a complete surprise to you, so keep your eyes peeled for updates!
We'd also like to clear up a few issues surrounding the free game. RuneScape is different from all other MMOs in that the free game has an epic amount of content (we'd estimate over 2,000 hours worth to get all your skills up to 99 and complete all the quests) and isn't merely a demo for the members' version. If anything, we see the members’ version as an expansion pack for those that really love the game and we feel both games are substantive in their own right. I want to apologise for habitually over-promoting the benefits of membership to our free players. I strongly believe if you love the free game you will equally love the members’ content and that is sufficient promotion to me. If you can't enjoy the free game in its own right then we're not doing our jobs properly. We will continue to improve the free game and, crucially, make it as fun as possible because we know that this is the way that everyone first discovers RuneScape.
We also have a long-term commitment to improving all the aspects of the game – from overall graphical enhancements through to new gameplay mechanics.
Another thing that has cropped up in recent times, which we'd like to clear up once and for all, is the common belief that RuneScape is a game aimed at kids. This is absolutely not the case. We can see how this view has fostered, however, thanks to our over-zealous chat filter, Quick Chat worlds, “dumbing down” of certain bits of humour and storylines, as well as certain areas of the game like the Stronghold of Security, which do provide solid security advice but perhaps come across as a little condescending to the vast majority of our older players. I unreservedly apologise for this and to rectify this we have already removed a number of words from the chat filter and are currently working on reviewing and amending any content we feel is too kid-focused.
RuneScape benefits from one of the most diverse player demographics in the industry and is truly reflective of the worldwide population. As a responsible company we have had to comply with certain regulatory obligations to ensure online safety for any younger players and as a result we introduced Quick Chat for players under a certain age, but this was to meet our legal responsibilities rather than who the game is designed for, it’s probably also worth noting that we have a total of 4 Quick Chat worlds in a total of 165 RuneScape worlds. As I said earlier, we are gamers at heart and we try to design games and content which we ourselves would enjoy playing. I’m an active RuneScape player and I’m ever so slightly over 21 :)
We are also committed to working with our fans in the RuneScape community to make the game a more enjoyable place to be. We will be running community events, tournaments and JMod participation in-game to provide more support to you and make RuneScape an even better place to be.
To kick things off in this new era of openness I'm going to be answering your questions. For the next week we will open a thread in the News and Announcements forum for questions, and in a week’s time I will post answers to a selection of your questions. So please feel free to drop-in and ask a question or tell me what you think of the game.