The story of the RuneScape franchise is unlike anything else in the industry.
As you may know, RuneScape started as a browser-based title by developer Jagex, released in 2001. The game was free-to-play, and in a way, laid the groundwork for the free-to-play industry we know today.
But, the world soon caught up to it. Despite frequent content updates and a dedicated community, this older style of gameplay couldn’t match faster-paced MMOs like World of Warcraft. Because of this, the team had to update to what they now call RuneScape 3, a new version of the game that released in July 2013. Unfortunately, the older version had to be shutdown due to incompatibility with modern tools, but this era had not been forgotten by fans.
A little before the release of RuneScape 3, Jagex put out a poll asking if fans would play RuneScape 2007 edition if they released a version of it. Due to the overwhelming number of yes votes, the company made available a separate client containing this older version for paying members. Two years later, this “Old School RuneScape” went free to play. This version became so popular that Jagex ported it to mobile last year, with RuneScape 3 coming soon as well.
As of this writing, RuneScape 3 has 131,142 players online. RuneScape Old School has 104,683. Case in point: more developers should bring back older editions of fan-favorite games.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is another fan service title, and it coming to PC will bring the franchise into a new golden era. With online support for each title and gameplay exactly as we remember it, every Halo fan will be happy. In the vein of RuneScape, Blizzard is releasing a Warcraft Classic edition as well.
In a generation of remasters, remakes, and re-releases, classic versions of once popular games allow us a snapshot into the earlier days of gaming - ones that paved the way to where we are now. In light of these titles, we decided to look at some other online games that could use a classic re-release, or at least a mobile port to make up for a defunct desktop version. Read on to see what we picked.
Club Penguin was a massively popular and massively multiplayer game that had players participate in a world by creating their own penguin. Released in 2005, and with over 200 million accounts by 2013, one could say this game had its fair share of fans.
Users would roam around a frozen land and play mini-games, complete missions, and interact with other penguins. Paying members could decorate a home igloo, raise pets, and gain access to exclusive features. While directed at kids, Club Penguin was enjoyed by gamers of all ages. However, it was shut down in 2017 and replaced by a limited, micro transaction-heavy mobile title called Club Penguin Island. This newer game lasted less than a year and a half before shutting down its servers.
Featuring isometric gameplay, the original Club Penguin is perfect for a mobile comeback. All the mini-games were simple and cater to touch screens, such as pizza-building or surfing. Club Penguin’s graphics were nothing complex either, and even older devices could run it fine. With nothing dangerous occurring in the main world, this game is also ideal for “drop-in-and-out” players. Let’s make it happen.
Note: For those who really need their Club Penguin fix, there is a Club Penguin: Rewritten fan game available for free!
Star Wars Galaxies
If developers can make PUBG and Fortnite run on a mobile device, then they can make Star Wars Galaxies do so too.
As one of the first online Star Wars titles, Galaxies enabled anyone to exist within George Lucas’ famous universe. Anyone could be anything - a Jedi, a bounty hunter, or a simple trader. However, like many MMO’s, this game outlived its glory days.
Despite having a dedicated fanbase, one expansion - the Trials of Obi-Wan - changed the gameplay to appeal to more of a mainstream audience. Jobs and professions were streamlined, and the entire game went into a state of “New Game Enhancements”. Players felt so betrayed that many of them demanded a refund and left. Eventually, the player count dwindled to the point of closure, and the game shut down in 2011, eight years after its release.
Taking note of RuneScape’s classic edition, Star Wars Galaxies could come back as a mobile title before the fateful expansion. Sure, there is the Bioware MMO now, but many have said this game pales in comparison to the glory days of Galaxies. I imagine a re-release would bring in many fans. It is a Star Wars property after all.
Released in 1997, Ultima Online is actually still going, albeit in a remastered state.
In its heyday, this game was a breakthrough success, bringing in 100,000 paid subscribers within the first six months of launch. In fact, this was the first ever MMO to reach that number. Thanks to expansions and a ton of updates, the game went on and was purchased by EA, and it was during that time when it peaked, with the title hitting around 250,000 subscribers in 2003.
While more of a niche game than the previous two on this list, Ultima’s feats are nothing to be ashamed of. With some sort of paid subscription or micro transaction system, this could be a game that fits into the mobile scene. Maybe it could go back to one of the older versions of release, though players do seem to enjoy the game’s current state on desktop.
City of Heroes
A game unlike any other, City of Heroes was exactly what it sounds like. Players would create their own super hero (or villain) and learn to exist in a world full of them. With all sorts of different abilities and powers, alongside the ability to create your own backstory, this game was any comic book nerd’s dream come to life.
Critically acclaimed at launch thanks to its unique premise, 2004 became the year that MMO’s could be something more than swords and magic. The game was so big that Marvel tried going after the team, Cryptic Studios, for allowing gamers to create characters similar to Marvel’s creations. However, because Cryptic did their best to prohibit this, the lawsuit ended up going nowhere.
Unfortunately, in 2012, the studio was forced to shut down due to a “realignment of company focus and publishing support,” according to the Wiki. This caused many players, both old and new, to come back for one final goodbye. Some of them even did what they could to keep the game live, and the property has been rumored to be making a come back multiple times since. However, these talks have never come to fruition.
There hasn’t been anything quite like City of Heroes. Sure, there are other superhero MMO’s like the now-defunct Marvel Heroes, but none that tackle the genre in a more traditional gameplay sense. If it were ever possible, this would be a great title to bring back via the mobile scene.
Of course, these are only a few of the many beloved titles out there that fans would love to see make a comeback. With success stories such as RuneScape Classic and the sure to be popular Warcraft Classic, the mobile route is possible for any of these games.