Andrew GowerPaul GowerRunescapeFoundingProduct Release

Runescape launch

4 Jan, 2001

Brothers Paul and Andrew Gower release the beta Runescape while in college, and out of their parent’s home in Nottingham. The game is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The game is browser based, or cloud-based, meaning that any computer accessing the game can do so with no downloads required, a feature that makes the game unique. Andrew:

When I went to university, I discovered text-based MUDs, or multi-user dungeons. I loved the fact that these sorts of games had all these players playing at once – even when you were not playing, the world carried on without you. Because of this, I began creating my own text-based MUD, but I quickly realized that with so many of them out there, there was no way that mine would ever get noticed. So I began to search for a way to make mine stand out, and the obvious way, of course, was to add graphics. With my game, I was trying to emulate text MUDs at the time, purely as a hobby. I worked on it on and off over a number of years…and I believe I started from scratch 3 or 4 times. I finally launched a version of the game after a left university in 2001. The basic plan was to run it for free, but to pay for my hobby through advertising. However, when the dot com bubble began to collapse, advertising dried up, and there was no way to pay for the game’s server.

This was really unfortunate because just the week before I had got 3 big servers for the game, and now was left with no way to pay for them. I began asking players for donations, but quickly decided that this was not the best way to go about it – to rely on people’s sympathy. Basically what we did was calculate how many people we’d need to keep going, and came up with 5000. Thankfully, we managed to get like 2000 subscribers in the first hour, and had our 5000 in the first week. Once we had people paying, we were able to reinvest back into the game. The more we invested, the faster it grew.

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