RuneScape developers tell Game Rant a wider console release is the plan for its MMO in the next few years, embracing a cross-platform future.
By Martin Docherty
Published 2 days ago
RuneScape’s?upcoming mobile release in June has the Jagex team setting its sights on a wider, cross-platform future for the game. While porting the menu-centric MMO onto non-PC hardware leads to several issues, it is a journey already underway. Finding as many ways as possible?to onboard players?is not a new design philosophy for Jagex, and it is one that underlines its approach to future titles.
In a Game Rant interview with Product Manager Matt Casey and Senior Product Director Liam Powney, they said its mobile development team could potentially shift to become a wider cross-platform team.?RuneScape?setting its sights on more ambitious platforms is not at all surprising.
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Ultimately, the title could have stayed as a desktop MMO, but moves like its upcoming mobile release and the continued support of?Old School RuneScape?instead point to a developer interested in respecting its game’s history while keeping the title on the cutting edge.
On the journey to create a comprehensive mobile port, the Jagex team ended up revisiting many assets in the original game and remastering them. In this way, developing for an entirely new platform improved the base game. It also prepared the game for further adaptation on consoles in future. Alongside general accessibility concerns like text legibility, the Jagex team realized a whole host of textures and art assets in the iconic MMO?could also do with a fresh coat of digital paint.
In particular, the character models needed a remaster. According to Casey, making the game look good on mobile “prompted [Jagex] to look at real basic stuff, like what your avatar looks like in-game.” Due to “a lot of new players coming in” through mobile, the team “smartened up some small textures and resolutions and stuff, which just means the overall game is going to be much, much better.” These resolution fixes also mean the game should look better played on a TV or monitor that an Xbox or PlayStation?might be hooked up to. It could even make it good on the Nintendo Switch, which would be a likely next step for the MMO.
It took roughly five years since the project’s start to finally get RuneScape 3 on mobile. A lot of the game had to?change to get here, however thanks to this work on the mobile port, release on further consoles might not be as far off.?With the games-as-a-service model becoming more ingrained across consoles, and constant innovations in console controllers, the obvious hurdles might be easier to overcome than expected.
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Casey described the vision for the game’s future as “platform agnostic.” He said he has?recently found the rise of live-service games particularly interesting in the context of its subscription MMO.
“Ultimately, we’re very well positioned to be that game-as-a-service, as you know we have a continual relationship with our players. If we’re going to see more of that in games, then we’ll probably see more of that in titles that are cross-platform. I just think?RuneScape is really well placed to take advantage of that. It’s something I’d really like to see us lean in to.”
This continual relationship between Jagex and its players is evident. From continuing support of a 20-year-old version of RuneScape?to a history of over 1000 updates across the game’s lifespan, Jagex’s devotion to its players is front and center. Alongside this player relationship, a willingness to adapt to more modern market forces is also present – meaning that?RuneScape’s platform agnosticism is not simple trend-hopping, but a coherent strategy for the game’s future.
Powney agreed, talking about laying the groundwork for future updates across various consoles. For him, RuneScape has always been about the “marathon,” a long-term plan that blends the game naturally with emergent trends.
“We’ve been going for 20 years. There’s been constant improvement over those years, and that is just set to continue. We’re just going on more platforms and we’re making the game understandable and accessible for even more people over the next 20 years.”
RuneScape?is available now on PC, and it will release on mobile platforms in June 2021.
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