RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia

RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.

Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.


Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community.  They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.

The poll approaches 250K

The poll approaches 250K

Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.)  There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.

Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription.  That seems right to me.  I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.

Certainly I did not run off an play on the Emerald Dream server in order to dodge the WoW subscription price, and I doubt Keen or SynCaine were so influenced with the Ultima Online Forever.

And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.

So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game.  I only know of two others.  There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).

And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.

Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others.  World of Warcraft is an obvious target.  Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras.  EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”

What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia?  Or does that even have any appeal for you?

5 thoughts on “RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia

  1. NetherLands

    It isn’t so much about embracing nostalgia but about embracing a type of gameplay that doesn’t exist anymore.

    This is why e.g. any type of pre-Shattering WoW server would have appeal, as The Shattering really was a watershed event with its removal of not just content but content types from the game.

    More ‘nostalgic’ (as it argueably involves more a different type of community than actual game features) would be a Shadows LotRO server, as with Moria the increase on focussing on end game and Instance grinding started (which may or may not have affected sub numbers, as if one wants Ghostcrawley-WoW-lite, one may as well play WoW).

    As you mentioned it: how is Emerald Dream faring? On top of my head you played a Paladin so any steps regarding your Fist yet :)?


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    NetherLands – “It isn’t so much about embracing nostalgia but about embracing a type of gameplay that doesn’t exist anymore.”

    That still strikes me as a “good old days” sort of attitude, which is a key element of nostalgia. After all, we wouldn’t long for that gameplay if we did not feel that, in some way, it offered something we no longer have available.

    As for the Emerald Dream, my own convoluted internal moral structure said it was okay to play as long as I was paying for a WoW account. I was paying Blizzard to play WoW, so where I played it could be argued to be irrelevant. Once our last subscription lapsed in December, I stopped playing.


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  4. Odd Sock

    I’m personally rather confused by the whole, Old-school servers, i mean i’m not saying that the old RuneScape was terrible, it was a younger version of what we have now.

    When i think back to it i used to do a lot of forum scouring back then and i recall people saying that RuneScape was rubbish and it lacked what is in the game now. So now that people have been given what they wanted, all of a sudden they don’t want it anymore…

    This really confuses me, however nice post will be back to read more.


  5. Hemvar

    I like that Jagex brought back that Nostalgia for players. My favorite time of Runescape was before the GE came out, but I honestly don’t play 07 Scape much. If I get on Runescape, I have a bunch of things i’m going to do on live RS, so I just won’t take the time to go on Old School. If I’m not playing live RS, then I’m playing Classic.


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