Hey everyone! I'm back with my second article for the Gielinor Gazette (you can catch my previous one in in July's edition here). As before, I'm here to give you regular insight into what everybody in Old School is doing behind the scenes. And if anyone has a cooler name for my section, I'm down for a change!
Old School's 2020/21 H1 Roadmap
Last time I talked about the game's roadmap for 2020 and how it has changed from our initial plans. Since then we've been able to refine the roadmap and offer a bit more detail. You'll notice terms like 'Med' or 'Mini'. That means we've planned in the capacity available to work on content at that time, but haven't yet totally decided what exactly will be worked on. It goes without saying that things on the roadmap will also be blogged and polled. It looks like there's a lot on there, and there is - which is exciting! It means that you'll be seeing more blogs, polls, and updates than ever. I know historically there have been concerns about content coming quickly, and a tendency to assume that this means it's rushed. I just want to assure you that we will NOT rush this stuff. As our team grows, so does our ability to work on multiple projects. If something isn't feeling up to scratch, then we'll delay it rather than force it out.
A look at the current iteration of the content roadmap for the rest of this year and early next. You'll notice that we haven't included 'Seasonal Events' (Leagues or DMM) - that's largely because we don't want to give any release dates away just yet! That isn't all you'll see in 2021 either. We've included things that we've already told you about, but there's room for more updates! Note that this is a very rough draft. Dates can easily move if we need them to, and it's dependent on the content passing a poll.
An Ideal Roadmap
In last month's blog I also offered some insight into what an ideal roadmap might look once the Old School team expands to where I think it needs to be. The great news is that we're getting closer and closer to making that a reality. We announced three new hires in last month's Gazette, there's three new hires in this month's issue AND I fully expect us to announce more hires next month! The game is growing and our team is growing.
What a content roadmap could look like once we've got the team where want it to be.
One of my motivations for outlining roadmaps last month was to clearly explain the delays to Clans and Group Ironman. Now that's done, I think we'd all benefit from taking a step back and explaining why we need a roadmap in the first place and how it helps define our goals as a game and a studio.
What We Want To Achieve
You've been playing RuneScape for nearly 20 years, and we want you to play for 20 more!
We want to build a world that you love. A world that you can't stay away from, and one you're compelled to play alongside your friends. To do this we know that we need to deliver great new regular content, to fix and tweak older content, to invest in growing our teams, to improve our tech infrastructure and to stay aligned with all the things that makes Old School great.
Old School is a subscription-based MMORPG and it will always remain that way. Yes, you might point to Bonds, but we really see them as a means of getting subscription time in the hands of players who might lack the real-world resources to otherwise afford it. What we ultimately mean by 'subscription-based' is that there's no cash-shop offerings like cosmetics, in-game resources, XP, time-saving mechanics, or anything else you might think of.
That won't ever change. Without a cash-shop (or any desire to add one) it means that our business goals become really simple. We want more players and more members!
And that takes us to my vision. For mobile's release we coined the phrase 'Old School Anywhere'. I want to go further. I want 'Old School Everywhere'!
Getting Old School Everywhere
I see a future with Old School front-and-centre on online game stores. It'll be available on other platforms and consoles. There'll be game worlds based in other locations. And it'll be available in different languages!
We see it like this - there are pockets of potential players everywhere around us. Potential players who play exclusively using Steam, or get their dose of daily gaming on the sofa with their consoles. We want more happy members who love the game and shout about Old School from the rooftops!
Those are lofty ambitions. Indeed, some are seriously huge undertakings. There's some major secret projects already in the works... but there's more we can do in the meantime. We've been working hard on leveling up our marketing game, and we're continuing to explore short-form competitive styles of play which offer something new like Leagues and Deadman.
There are other opportunities, too. We have great relationships with a lot of industry partners who can help us reach new people.
Prime Gaming and Old School
I'm now going to talk about partnerships, and please do hear me out. Working with the likes of Prime Gaming is a must-do for many of the biggest games on the planet. Prime Gaming has an audience in the hundreds of millions. They can expose their massive audience to the games and studios that they work with, but they don't do this out of the goodness of their heart. It needs to be mutually beneficial, and here's how it works:
Let's take a hypothetical game, which we'll call Game A. Game A is going to work with Prime Gaming and offer 'Loot' for Prime Gaming subscribers to claim. Prime Gaming and Game A agree to advertise the 'Loot' to their respective audiences. Game A points their players to Prime Gaming, and Prime Gaming points their viewers and creators to the game. It's a win-win.
These games might offer 'Loot' in the form of things like cosmetics, or in-game experience or resources. Other games embark on long campaigns in which they offer rare weapons and armours, cosmetic skins and in-game currencies.
Our game doesn't work like other games, and it's something we're very proud of. We were always resolved to never offer things like XP or resources. Sure, XP rates might be a bit faster now than with Old School's launch in 2013, and some elements of gameplay are streamlined, but we're proud to call ourselves a tough 'old school' MMORPG.
That said, we can't shy away from the fact that in July of last year we wanted to see how you'd feel about us adding cosmetics through things like Prime Gaming. We said we'd make them available to everybody, we ensured that the stuff we offered was in keeping with the game, and there wasn't anything purple or obnoxiously branded. And, well, you know what happened next... it went to the poll and you had your say. And what a say it was! You voted in your thousands. The cosmetics failed quite spectacularly and we ended the poll early (the first and only time in Old School's history this has happened). We tried to find out if you'd want that kind of partnership, and you didn't want it. We won't repeat it. We therefore added cosmetics to the list of things we won't offer.
Here's the tough part and where this ramble is taking us.
We still want to reach the huge number of potential players that partners like Prime Gaming could offer us. We're trying to figure out what a good partnership means for not only for us but also for you.
We've already done a few partnerships that offered membership. They're great for bringing in new players, but we know you have valid concerns about things like bots and world crowding when free membership is up for grabs. We haven't ignored these thoughts! Since the last batch of free membership, we've increased the size of our anti-cheating team and worked closely with Amazon to improve verification methods. Next time we're going to shorten the membership amount we offer, which we expect will prevent the bots from making as much progress as they have in the past.
We want to shift away from solely giving out membership, however - partly in order to listen to your concerns about world crowding and bots, but also because the more stuff we can offer through Prime Gaming the better.
So when we returned to the drawing board we asked ourselves: "What can we offer that would appeal to both you, our existing players, and any prospective new players?"
We think we've figured it out. Rather than give items or resources or anything detrimental to our long-term goals, we want to focus on events and experiences which don't directly affect the game worlds or your game accounts.
So here's what we're going to be offering:
- September 15th - October 13th: 7 Days of Membership
This one is quite self-explanatory! Claim the 'Loot' and grab membership.
- October 13th - November 10th: Prime Plays: Last Man Standing
This is something brand new, so bear with me whilst I explain. We're working with Prime Gaming to host a Last Man Standing event which will run for the duration of the offer, with a Grand Finale to be held on Saturday November 14th that will see 24 players invited to compete for membership prizes. Qualifying for the Finale is as easy as playing on any Last Man Standing game world and claiming the Prime Gaming 'Loot' at any point between October 13th and November 10th. The players with the most Competitive or High Stakes wins will be invited to compete, but don't worry if you can't claim 'Loot' right away. As long as you claim 'Loot' by November 10th we'll track your wins from before that date. We'll share further details as we get closer to the start date.
- November 10th - December 15th: 7 Days of Membership
- December 15th - January 5th: TBD
We're still working this one out. It'll be a case of looking at our development schedule (and considering the Christmas break) and seeing what could fit. Rest assured it'd be in a similar vein to the other months.
A Slippery Slope
I wasn't here last year, but I know that there weren't just concerns about the stuff we offered in the poll. Lots of you were worried about what could come next, and that a whiff of partnerships might be the slippery slope for changing our monetisation model.
I get it.
I want to reassure you that I don't plan on leading Old School down any such path. I've said it a few times in this blog, but I want to keep reassuring you. We're going to stay subscription-based. Changing that model doesn't make any sense for our game. Selling you stuff like XP would negate a huge portion of gameplay and whereas other MMOs might want to get you to the end to play end-game content as quickly as possible, we know that the journey of an Old School account is something special. Similarly, we know that cosmetic rewards are very important to you because they typically represent great in-game accomplishments. Selling you cosmetics would undermine a lot of these achievements and the content that we pour so much of ourselves into for you to enjoy.
I know this is a lot to take in. There may even be some controversy, but I want to be as transparent as possible. This vision of 'Old School Everywhere' depends on growing the team, delivering more quality content, going to new platforms and regions, and ultimately driving new players into the game. With all these new players come new subscribers, and that’s how Old School will continue to grow. This game would not be where it is if it weren’t for your feedback and support. It is my great hope that each and every one of you comes along for the ride. It’s going to be awesome!
And there is so much more ahead. Over the next few months I'll be talking to you about major tech projects that are in progress that we expect will resolve a lot of your long-standing concerns for the game's health.
As always, let me know your thoughts on everything we've shared!
- Mod MikeD