We all knew that Frogster’s fantasy world based free-to-play Runes of Magic was going to be a hit with gamers around the world, but I’m not quite sure anyone could have predicted the explosive growth that the Berlin based publisher has recently announced: over 1 million registered users. Now, a 1 million registered user landmark is always impressive, but also take into account this has been accomplished in less than two months since the official release. OMGZ!
Announced on the US Runes of Magic site, European and North American users have achieved this number. But it doesn’t stop there, as Russian and Korean language versions have already been announced. Wait, putting a quality free-to-play in the hands of Koreans? Be prepared for some truly explosive numbers the minute this goes live via Frogster Asia. The Russian version will be offered up through a partnership with Game Factory Interactive. “We are convinced that with the up-coming offering of additional language versions we will achieve further strong growth in Europe,” stated Andreas Weidenhaupt, Chief Licensing Officer of Frogster Interactive Pictures AG and CEO of Frogster Online Gaming GmbH.
Sounds like Frogster might be able to kick off their shoes and relax for a minute, no? Well obviously they’re out to prove that old saying that ‘no moss gathers on a rolling stone’, as they’ve also announced at this week’s LOGIN conference in Seattle that they’re now making getting started with Runes of Magic even faster via a streaming version with BitRaider in North America. The BitRaider client will allow players to being playing the game within minutes, rather than hours, as users can download only the portions of the game that are needed to begin. Once up and running, the remaining pieces of the Runes of Magic puzzle will be downloaded in the background.
“The biggest barrier to even wider adoption of free-to-play online games is the time it takes from when you start downloading the game, to when you get in and play,” said Lars Koschin, CEO of Frogster America, Inc. “We understand that people want to be able to get into a game as quickly as possible, and that is why we are working with BitRaider to make Runes of Magic the first free-to-play title to use the technology. We believe that by reducing the download and installation process to less than 5 minutes on most systems, we’ll see a rapid increase in players coming to the game”
I’ll fully admit, I’m about the throw some kerosene on a burning debate here, but to those that have had their doubts about the success or even sustainability of free-to-play MMO’s in the North American and/or European markets, I say: stick a fork in it. Frogster has clearly started out of the gate running at 1000 miles per hour, and clearly shows no signs of slowing. World of Warcraft may be the world’s most successful MMO, but based on a ‘buy the box, and pay the subscription model’. Runes of Magic is completely free to download and play, and if they can keep the pace up on this growth, I’d venture a guess to say that they could very well give Nexon, and their genre defining MapleStory a run for their money.
Congrats to the folks at Frogster and Runewalker, keep up the fantastic work!