Back to the Roots

posted by on 23rd August 2012, at 2:33pm

Ring a bell? Jagex once released a quest with a name akin to that, ‘Back to My Roots’. Why do I bring it up now, you ask? Well lately I’ve been watching Runescape’s news posts and been thinking about them. Specifically, the fact that most of them have to do with three things usually; Membership Gamecards, Solomon’s Store, or the Wheel of Failtune. Mmm, yes, there have been two quests in the past month or so and a few Distraction and Diversion or clan updates, but mostly it’s been relating to the three things I mentioned above.

Game Cards

Now Game cards are a pretty nifty concept in themselves. You go to a store, pick out the card with the features you want, lay the cash on the counter, go home, and insert the code and then BANG! You’ve got your stuff. No credit card is required. This can be easier since most people have to use their parents credit card which it can be hard to get the permission to do (whenever you do ask to use it say that you want them to check out with you, you should never use someone else’s card alone!).

So, good, easy way of getting what you want.

Solomon’s Store

Oh boy, now this is… heh, this is an interesting thing. Micro-transactions are not anything new in the gaming world, in fact it’s quite the contrary. Most games nowadays are free to play, with more features and usually the higher level features requiring a modest purchase of in-game currency. This currency is earnable in-game or can be purchased with real money for a price that is usually comparable to the quantity of currency you’ll receive. 1 cent for 1 currency is the usual rate, with certain deals or bundles giving you 1.5-2 currency for 1 cent.
Jagex’s Runecoins, Solomon’s Store’s currency, have a rate that ranges from 1 cent for .4 runecoins, to 1 cent for .52 runecoins, depending on which quantity you buy. This means one runecoin costs anywhere from 2.5 to 1.92 cents, more than twice to nearly twice as much as the average micro-transactions.
Another thing about Solomon’s store is the fact that all the items are purely cosmetic. Meaning buying them will not help you at all.

The Wheel of Fortune Failtune

A few months ago I did an article on the Squeal of Failtune, so I don’t need to go into a lot of detail about it.
The part about it that I’ve found curious over the past few months is the fact that they seem to be constantly pushing it. Now it’s ‘ok’ to push game updates for a few weeks to get people to see them. But if it’s a good update, the players will spread the word faster and more effectively than the game could ever hope to. Plastering an advertisement across my screen everytime I log in will only make me not want to do something, EVEN MORE! Now if my friend says, “Hey man, this is a cool update and we should do it together.” I’ll be like, “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.” But if he says, “Man, this update totally stinks.” I probably won’t try it. Or I may try it once but already have a semi set opinion of it.

Your Point is…?

Quality wins over quantity everytime. In the case of the aforementioned updates, it’s great, fine, and dandy to have them, but that’s it. Just have them. Do not spend undue amounts of time advertising them. A cosmetics system is nice, only 25% of the population care how they look that much so don’t force others to hear about it when they don’t care. Now if you made that cosmetic system 100% inclusive, you’d get a much larger population reach. Who’s to say I don’t want to wear bronze cosmetically while doing slayer? Why do I have to be forced to wear the paid cosmetics if I want cosmetics?

And if you’re going to have a micro-transaction like system it needs to be slightly earnable in-game. Have Runecoins be an uncommon drop for slayer monsters. Yes, the players may be able to earn some – 5 per slayer task perhaps. That means after what, 10 tasks they can buy something? That’s not bad. That will give players a bit more incentive to do slayer or do this or do that. Allowing the currency to be earnable in game also allows players to earn a portion of it, and then not have to spend as much real money. This means they’ll be using the micro-transaction more.

Of course some of these options I’ve suggested may reduce Runescape’s revenue from these features, but then, would that be a bad thing if it made the players happier?

What is more important, Jagex, pleasing your players… or making money?

My original intent with this article was to say that Jagex should drop their obnoxious overpromotionalizing and get back to the basics of what makes Runescape, Runescape. Runescape is not about spending real money. It’s not even about spending or making money in game. It’s about doing fun quests and training fun skills and having fun with friends. It’s about fun. Runescape excelled in the past because they were unique. They had unique graphics, unique gameplay, and didn’t have excessive subscription costs.

What do you think? Do you like the old fun and player oriented style of updates? Or do you prefer the new promotion and money based updates?

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