Recently we had the opportunity to talk about Runes of Magic with Matthias Fellinger, Product Manager. We received detailed answers for each questions, and got an inside view on what means to promote and manage one of the best free mmorpg on the market.
"Hello all MMORPG Center readers. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk a little about Runes of Magic. My name is Matthias Fellinger and as the Product Manager I am responsible for a lot of tasks concerning Runes of Magic. Enjoy reading!"
MMORPG Center: First let’s start with the game updates and patches. Does Frogster Online takes care of updates, or only the original developer Runewaker?
Regarding our regular updates and patches, this is really teamwork between Runewaker Entertainment (our Developer) and Frogster. While Runewaker is programming and designing the content, we also have our own employees which are very dedicated to Runes of Magic. So both sides are responsible for creating new ideas. On the other hand we do get rather finished e.g. new zones from Runewaker and then have a deeper look at it and give feedback for improvement.
In general this means that while Runewaker develops the game in Taiwan, we’re working vigilantly on polishing it for the western community.
MMORPG Center: Runes of Magic has become one of the most popular free mmorpgs on the market. What are the features that make Runes of Magic so popular to the players?
I think there are various reasons for the big success of the game. One is, as you said, the amount of features ingame. These are features that players already love, like personal and guild housing, demanding instances or enthralling pvp fights and also new features like the dual class system. Combined in an atmospheric landscape with 2500+ Quests, the game just
stands for itself.
But we think that there is another reason for its success and this is the business model behind Runes of Magic. As you know, we are free-to-play, meaning you can download the client for free and there are no monthly fees/subscription required to play the whole game. Furthermore we are offering new, free content on a monthly basis – like new dungeons or new zones – and big extensions – we call them chapters – every four to six months. So you don’t have to spend one single penny to experience the game and will be entertained with new content on a regular base.
Additionally players can buy items for convenience (eg an Experience Potion, granting you an XP Bonus for one hour) or for style (giving your mount a special color) in the Item Shop. You will not find any weapons, armors or similar items in this shop to keep the balance ingame. We are also offering the players who don’t want to spent money various opportunities to get access to Item Shop Items. We have the Phirius Token Shop, where you can buy several Item Shop items by using a special ingame currency, so called Phirius Tokens. Plus, you can trade gold (ingame currency) for diamonds (our real money currency) and vice versa in the Auction House.
To sum up, offering free quality content that is just fun to play and never forcing users to buy ingame is our recipe for the success of Runes of Magic.
MMORPG Center: Many mmorpg players that didn't play the game say that ROM is a copy of World of Warcraft, what do you have to say about this?
First of all, being compared to the most successful MMORPG out there isn’t the worst thing that can happen. There are of course many game mechanics that are well know to the players and have established a certain “state of the art” and hey, why not stick to something that players like? But, everyone who takes a look at Runes of Magic will soon notice the differences. For example: Housing from level one, Guild Castles, dual class system, elite skills, millions of individualization possibilities and and and..
MMORPG Center: We played the game and we were impressed of the number and quality of the features present, but the combat on melee side seemed somewhat poorly executed, as in the GFX, particles which are not very clear for each skill, and neither the sounds for them. Do you think this is a problem that you will work on, or is just a matter of taste?
As in most of the MMOs, we are improving the game for all aspects constantly. Graphics and sounds are one of the issues we are currently having a closer look at. Our partner, award winning Dynamedion, responsible for our Soundtrack, is re-working a lot of the sounds of the game at the moment. As it is with issues like this, there are a lot of personal opinions flying around and therefore our community feedback is most valuable for our decisions. So everyone is invited to express their opinions on our official forums found on our website www.runesofmagic.com . Since we are designing the game for our players, every opinion is gathered by our hard working Community Managers and discussed internally and, in most cases, find their way into the game.
So yes, we are working on issues like this and yes, this is a matter of taste where we always try to find the way that most of our players pleases. Again, feel free to tell us your feedback
via our forums or surveys. You will be heard!
MMORPG Center: Can you tells us a rough number of players the game has now?
Sure, we were happy to announce that we just hit the 2 million mark with Game Accounts on 09/10/06. Talking about players and as it is the nature of free to play games, it depends what you declare as “player”. Because the game is free to download and play, some might just register to give the game a quick try, some play regularly, some only a few hours a month and everything in between regarding playtime.
We really think that this is one of the huge advantages of Runes of Magic and one of its reasons for the success: No matter how often and how long you play the game, there are no costs involved and there is no complicated process involved to e.g. pause you subscription like for the holidays.
But, if you look at the game and its numbers since release in March 2009, we have an significant increase in active players every day and have already added several new servers since launch. We even offer localized servers for Spanish and French speaking players as well.
MMORPG Center: How is this publishing/managing of a mmo that wasn’t developed from the start by your company, working so far for you?
As I have stated before, we are having a very good and productive relationship with our developers and since the beginning, are taking actively part in adjusting the game. So we actually started the game in Europe like a “new game”. We had our Closed Beta, the Open Beta and finaly the release in March. In all of these stages we improved and suggested redesigns to make the game even better, a lot of based our community feedback. Of course, the game itself had a lot of advantages and nice features already when we first saw it.
To conclude, we never felt that we lost control over the game at any stage of its progress. And, the successful partnership with Runewaker for Runes of Magic lead the way to a complete new project with the developers. We are all looking forward to this, but unfortunately I can’t tell you more at this stage.
MMORPG Center: Can you give us a glimpse of the future updates and plans for this game?
Of course we will stick to our routine for regular free updates. We are testing new elite skills and dungeons which we want to release within the next updates. As always there will be content like new mounts and of course improvements to existing content. And, as you might expect, we are working on more or less “secret” content which I don’t want to spoil to much about it at this stage. But I am really looking forward to see that stuff ingame.
Thank you for your time.
See you all in Taborea!