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Top Six Reasons to Play Runes of Magic

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When gamers first discovered FrogsterÂ’s Runes of Magic, it was too easy to dismiss the title as “another World of Warcraft clone.” Once beta began and people got a taste of the many features and design elements present in the world of Taborea, players understood that Frogster was on to something with its free-to-play title. As the game closes in on three months since the official launch and over one million registered users, Ten Ton Hammer takes a look at the top six reasons to play Runes of Magic.

The content in Ravenfell has a distinct pirate theme.

Runes of Magic is free to download: MMOs typically cost $15-50 at retail depending on how long they have been on the market. The purchase price always includes a month of play time, but itÂ’s still a bit of a gamble any time a gamer buys a box. An MMO enthusiast who pays $50 for a title he doesnÂ’t like after a few hours of gameplay either must concede that he has just lost his money or play an MMO he doesnÂ’t like as much as possible during that month to get his moneyÂ’s worth of entertainment from the transaction. Players donÂ’t take any risks with Runes of Magic. Nothing is lost if a person decides FrogsterÂ’s MMO is not for him because a free download gets a person into the game.

Runes of Magic does not require subscription fees: The lack of a monthly fee has two benefits for the residents of Taborea. The first advantage is that a player does not feel pressure to play a certain number of hours during the month to justify the cost. Whether a person logs on for two hours per week or twenty, the reason to log on is the desire to play rather than pressure to validate an expense.

The second perk that comes from Runes of Magic having no subscription fee is that players can take a break at any time without any account management. A gamer going on vacation for three weeks doesnÂ’t need to do anything to manage her account. Since Runes of Magic costs nothing, she can simply stop playing and return to the game when her vacation is over. Likewise, a person who has grown tired of the title or reached the level cap can stop playing for a while and come back after a new content update.

Frogster adds content and events frequently: Runes of Magic launched with content beta testers did not have a chance to access, a wise move. In the ten weeks since it went live, Frogster has released at least four content updates and events. First was the Ravenfell expansion, which added content for players near the cap. Then came the Easter Egg Hunt, an event Ton Ton Hammer participated in that offered prizes for readers who could find the eggs hidden on gaming websites. Next was the Spring Rain Event, which added seasonal fun and quests. Finally, Frogster announced the Public Encounters system, an open quest system that works a bit like Warhammer OnlineÂ’s Public Quests.

The Dual Class system is fun: At first glance, it is easy to dismiss the Dual Class system in Runes of Magic as a copycat version of the jobs used in Final Fantasy XI. However, to label the feature as an imitation is hasty and inaccurate. The Dual Class system, though a bit complicated and imperfect, allows players to build a versatile character that can perform a number of roles in a group or an avatar that fits a role playing story. By combining two character classes, each gamer can design the character he wants, experiment with skill combos to maximize effectiveness, and escape the boredom that often sets in when a class hits the “middle levels.” Just when a Taborean tires of playing one class, she can switch to the other for a while.

Apparently, MMOs don't have to be costly to be epic.

Streaming Download: Lars Koschin, CEO of Frogster America, Inc., notes, “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.” Now Frogster is working with BitRaider to make Runes of Magic a streaming download that will take about five minutes to download and let people get into the game. If the feature works well, it should result in more gamers trying the title. The full version of the client weighs in at almost 3.5GB, making for a very long download that can scare off potential players. And it lends to a greater chance of a corrupted download causing a gamer to simply give up on Runes of Magic. The speedy download of the smaller client will mean people have even less to risk in trying the title.

Frogster knows what it is doing: The streaming download is just one sign that Frogster is managing Runes of Magic well. The frequent content updates are further evidence, as is unlocking new content at launch.

It is important to note that Frogster held an exclusive beta for Runes of Magic, demonstrating that the company was more concerned with fixing bugs and adding polish to make a great game than advertising a mediocre game. Frogster is wise enough to understand that when beta is used as marketing that testers don't bother to report bugs. They play until they encounter something that turns them off to the game and leave. They tell their friends only about the offensive gameplay element, and the title is relegated to the anonymity that comes with a glutted market.

Parting Thoughts

Frogster has demonstrated a commitment to Runes of Magic that is not often found in games without a retail tag and subscription fees. We have listed but six terrific reasons to try the title, and we havenÂ’t even mentioned the distinctive artwork in the different zones, the staggering number of quests, the mature and helpful player base, or the sheer fun of the game. The important things to convey are that players can download Runes of Magic for free, play it for free, and find a gameplay experience fully supported by the developer and publisher.

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