Today, Jagex made good on a promise to bring Runescape to mobile. Well, almost - working demos of both Runescape and Old-school Runescape were available to try at Runefest ‘17, by both press and players alike. It’s rapid progress, moving from announcement to playable prototype in a few short months.
Not only did we manage to go hands-on with both versions of the game (video coming soon), but we also interviewed some of the team bringing the veteran MMO to your tablet and smartphone. Jamie Brooks is Producer on the mobile effort, partnering up with Matt Casey as Senior Product Manager for Runescape.Current plans are to launch the Old-school version later this winter, with Runescape proper following it early in the new year. And yes, both Android and iOS versions are planned, although the former is currently further ahead in development.
The mobile launch is significant for Jagex’s plans to recruit more players - essential to a veteran MMO that’s over 15 years old. On the one hand, there’s an untapped market of smartphone gamers that could be seduced by Runescape’s approachable play style. On the other, there’s a whole bunch of former players that could be lured back into the fold, if only they had an easy-access method of dipping into the game.
Our own hands-on experience is encouraging, even at this early stage. Tap-to-move instantly makes Runescape feel native to touch devices, and the simple nature of Old-school’s interface has made it easier to port over. Meanwhile, all the graphical improvements from NXT have made it into the newer incarnation, with areas like Al Kharid looking spectacular on the test tablet we were using.
No separate accounts will be needed for mobile, and Jagex even encouraged players to log into their own accounts on the test handsets and try out every aspect of the experience. It highlighted an issue with the more complex modern version of Runescape, as much of the interface is going to require extensive redesign to make it friendly for smaller screens and fingers instead of mice, which is the primary reason for the later launch window.
While you might not end up playing Runescape on the train there’s a definite possibility for desk-free gaming, whether it’s at home on the sofa or killing time at the coffee shop. Making Runescape portable between desktop, tablet and mobile might be the perfect way for Jagex to get more players heading to Gielinor, and more often.