Who will play when there’s that game out?

posted by on 18th November 2011, at 3:41pm

Gears of War 3, Dead Island, Rage, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Super Mario: 3D Land, Saints Row: The Third, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Star Wars: The Old Republic. That’s just a short list of the games that either have or will come out this holiday season. At approximately USD$60 a game, to get all of the amazing experiences that are mentioned here, it would cost you about $840, assuming that you already have the hardware. The time investment represented in beating every single-player campaign only once would probably go into the quadruple digits (Skyrim alone can consume over 100 hours for one decent play-through). These are the cream of the crock of this holiday season, some of the biggest game releases of all time (in terms of units sold) and are quite appealing and tantalizing to most gamers.
Now, since there are so many great games coming out, that everyone will be talking about (I assume for months if not for years), will Runescape suffer from a temporary decrease of players online at any particular moment? Will people be playing more Runescape, or a couple of the triple-A blockbuster games mentioned above? Will Bioware’s new attempt at what looks like one of the most interesting and well-made MMORPGs detract from Runescape?
Runescape, as an MMORPG, lives and dies with its players. If people don’t subscribe and play, the company can no longer make ends meet and goes out of business, closing the doors on the game. Now, Jagex doesn’t appear to be anywhere near that point at the moment, especially with the success of Runefest and Bot Nuking Day. But, there is one slight problem: Will people be playing Runescape nearly as much through this holiday season as other major breaks from school and work? These new games represent a significant investment of both time and money to those that purchase them, especially because many of them are very highly anticipated. It’s truly hard to say what will really happen. The Christmas season traditionally a time of rest. Oh, yah, there’s also that insanely busy and frantic time of preparing for parties, shopping, going to gatherings, visiting relatives, decorating, etc. Even though a lot of people end up having days off, people are even more busy on those days due to family and celebrations. People’s schedules are already tight, and they just get tighter and tighter when you want to play a game, and have to dedicate many hours to preparations.
Now, the question also goes: Will people that don’t have the budget or interest in this season’s triple-A titles be making up the difference in terms of playtime? That’s hard to determine. It could be that some will completely disappear from the game for weeks or months, logging in maybe once or twice for the Christmas update, but other than that, staying mostly offline. On the other hand, there are people that aren’t going to be doing much that will have the opportunity to no-life skills.
An interesting factor to consider in thinking about the level of loyalty of RS players is the release of Bioware’s (the creators of the Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Knights of the Old Republic series) new MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game, by all accounts, is an absolute masterpiece even in beta, with fully-voiced NPCs (at last report, there were over 2000 voice actors involved in providing voices), extremely balanced and fun combat and ways to train and level up much beyond the typical grinding found in every game. Some have hailed it a WoW-killer and the ultimate incarnation of the MMO, but that is unlikely. The question must be asked, even though it won’t be free to play, how much will it draw from games of a very similar genre (WoW, LoTRO, Rift, Guild Wars, Lineage, Star Trek Online) and from other rivals of a different calibre (Runecape, EVE, 8 Realms, Stellar Dawn*)? Will it really be the be-all end-all mix of both the amazing story-telling Bioware is famous for and of intense and extremely fun gameplay? That is yet to be seen, but we won’t have to wait very long to see the fruits of such a promising game.
The question that lies at the heart of ever facet so far explored is: How much will Runescape suffer from the insane release schedule of some of this years most amazing concentrated in only 2 months, not to mention new competitors coming to the table with new and extremely exciting possibilities? The fight will be tough and Runescape will very likely suffer somewhat of a blow, but how serious the damage is will remain to be seen until the aftermath of this madness. Madness?! THIS IS THE INTERNET!!!

*Stellar Dawn, formerly know as Mechscape and has been on “closed beta” for over a year now with no word as to a release schedule and no new news as to what is happening with the project, if anything at all.

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