World of Warcraft’s largest legacy server, Nostalrius, was shut down recently. The recent closure of Nostalrius dismayed a large number of players. Despite this, one of World of Warcraft’s biggest competitors is doing just the opposite; RuneScape’s developers are embracing the fans who want to play older versions of the title by running an official legacy server.
A new update for RuneScape was recently launched, which improved performance and revamps the MMO’s graphical engine. Despite launching the new update, the team behind RuneScape is still dedicated to running a legacy server. Old School RuneScape runs along with the main game, allowing players to play the game much the same as it was when the title was at its height almost ten years ago.
Polygon recently spoke to Mark Ogilvie and Mat Kemp of RuneScape developer Jagex about the game’s legacy server. “[Old School RuneScape] started as an exact copy of RuneScape from August 2007,” Mark Ogilvie stated. “There’s always a desire to be reinventing the wheel in MMOs, but for a lot of players, the amount of hours that they’ve invested when they dream about that game, there’s a certain version of the game… that they love. For a lot of players, that was 2007. It was the glory days of RuneScape.”
RuneScape released in 2001, but Ogilvie and product manager Mat Kemp described 2007 as when the game was at its height. The development team recognized the desire to return this time not just within players, but as fans of the game themselves. While some voiced concerns about offering this older version of the game, the majority voted to introduce the server. Since then, it has achieved success on both a business level and with players.
Old School RuneScape continues to operate as a democracy. Major development updates proposed for the game must be passed by a three-fourths majority, Ogilvie and Kemp explained. “We’ve had a thousand updates and 90 percent of them have passed,” Kemp stated. “That really validates that effort that we put into [the game].”
It has been a major success. Old School RuneScape hit one million accounts a few months after launch. Ogilvie and Kemp stated that more users voted in favor of legacy servers than the hundreds of thousands who are still actively playing, proving that the community supported launching a retro version of RuneScape.
“A lot of companies want to look forward, not dwell on the past,” Ogilvie stated. “[But] we know a lot of players take a big, long break from MMOs. Then they come back to their game that they’ve invested thousands of hours into, they log in and they don’t understand what’s going on. They’re going to be alienated by it… It’s intelligent to run older versions of the games because if [players] don’t want to relearn, if they just want a comfort blanket, they have a version straight away.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people saying , ‘I wanna play this game from back in the day,'” Ogilvie continued. “Companies should be brave enough to say that [they] think this is worth trying.”
Kemp concluded: “If we keep the players happy, if we make money, that keeps my bosses happy.”
Both Old School RuneScape and its newest version are available to download.