Jagex have splash out half a million pounds on a Runescape TV and cinema marketing campaign.
The 12 year-old free-to-play game has undergone some big changes this year, and can be seen before The Hobbit in UK and Australian cinemas. Publisher Jagex has also booked spots on TV and via digital channels in a campaign that runs until January 6th.
It follows a similar TV campaign for Wargaming's free-to-play title World of Tanks. These digital specialists have been investing in above-the-line activity in a bid to widen the reach of its free titles.
"The synergy between Runescape and The Hobbit is clear, that is a captive audience that really resonates to what we have," Runescape brand director Simon Etchells told MCV.
"But we are combining that with a heavyweight TV campaign in the UK, and we've also got a big digital campaign as well, including Search and Facebook advertising. And we are also working with Wikia on relevant and applicable content.
"It's an important time of year for us. It is a seasonal high, when people are spending time at home with their family, and spending more time with Runescape."
The TV campaign takes in programming on E4, Dave, Sky, FX, Disney XD, and it follows the firm's first ever marketing campaign in the summer, which also included advertising in UK schools. Etchells says that 2013 will feature even more marketing activity in what he claims will be a 'red letter year' for the RPG.
"We've made some significant changes to the game recently, and we'd like to see lapsed fans come back and see how the game is developing," he said.
"But I do think there is a new, younger audience that can enjoy Runescape. And a lot of our marketing is toward the younger audience there.
"We are highly evolving the game graphically and technically in the New Year. And we have already increased the quality and quantity of content we are putting into the game. You have seen some significant changes in the last year, the evolution of the combat has redefined the game itself. The overall game experience is more refined and more engaging.
"I really see 2013 as a real red letter year for Runescape, there will be some real significant content and technology and you'll see our marketing go on another step. Runescape is very unique, it is a game that has been around for so long, but it has an incredible player base. Jagex was there first and it is still there. We have contenders, but we are really proud of what Runescape is and where it is going to go.
The Runescape and World of Tanks campaigns highlight how far free-to-play has come in the last 12 months. It also flies in the face of some of its rivals tactics, such as Hawken, that have promised 'not to spend a penny' on advertising, and instead focusing on social and community work.
"We are very confident in the title and we have the power in the company to do this above-the-line activity," explained Etchells. "Runescape is a mass appeal product so we are going to mass appeal media. But that's not to say we aren't investing in social and community work. We have an incredibly large community team here that work diligently with our massive audience. It is just another string to our bow."