Alex’s Analysis – The Return

posted by on 25th May 2013, at 4:27pm

Everybody loves being unique. There isn’t something more glorious in any multiplayer game than walking through the marketplace boasting a full set of armor nobody’s ever heard about before and getting all these people surrounding you asking “WTF IZ DAT?!” and offers to buy it for absurdly high prices. You get this euphoric feeling of power just for existing.

That’s been sort of the cornerstone for driving people to going so far as to buy things for real-world money like what Solomon’s store and the Squeal of Fortune offers. That’s why Party Hats and Halloween Masks are so darn expensive.

By the way, this is going off the “return” of the alchemist amulet, but this has been done several times in the past in Solomon’s Shop, the Squeal of Fortune, and special features like getting a free cosmetic bonus for purchasing game cards. I’ll get more into those later.

When the alchemist amulet first came out, players only had a few days to collect ten shards off the Squeal of Fortune via luck. I myself only netted 4 at the time, and I actually benefitted from the return because I held onto them and combined them after getting 6 more. But I imagine there were players out there who bought several extra spins for the easy in-game cash and useful alchemy item from getting all 10, because at the time, we figured it would be a one-time occurrence.

Those who did probably never took them off. Set it to their cosmetic override using the dragon keepsake boxes (which were pure genius, in my opinion). Those “select few” have finally obtained a sweet-looking item that nobody else has, and after a while, they are now able to go around and have people go “WTF IZ DAT?!”. Sweeeeeet!

But then, it came back. Bigger, better, with the option to get you even more cash and a free teleport.

And cue the rage-fest. They paid MONEY for this amulet so that they could become unique! They certainly didn’t do it for 15 free high-alchemy spells per day. Nature runes are so easy to come by nowadays thanks to Runecrafting and level 3 clue scrolls that 15 spells a day is hardly worth the effort. Ah, but you argue, in dungeons it’s useful because it only takes up one slot, or if you wear it, no slots. Yeah, but players use high-alchemy spells to keep their inventories empty anyways, so it really doesn’t matter how much inventory space they take up, and rather than a single extra slot for 15 high-alchemies, I think players would rather take up two spaces in their inventory and wear an amulet of fury and have hundreds or thousands for a series of prolonged trips.

So unless the players don’t have the magic level (again, easily remedied thanks to runecrafting), the free spells are really not that worth it, meaning its main value comes in the fact that it’s unique. And that goes away when the item becomes easily available to the general public again.

Kick in the groin, ha ha, that item that made you unique and special no longer does because everybody’s got it now.

And don’t get me started on Solomon’s Shop. Flaming skulls, ornate katana, turkey hat, green skin… the list goes on. Buy a Runescape 90-day card and you get this sweet unique item! Sometimes it’s a bonus for something players already do, and sometimes they splurge the extra dough for the extra days they don’t need just to get the sweet item (FLAMING $%^#ING SKULLS!). Long story short, they do it for the item, and they count on the fact that not very many other players do it.

Then, after a good long run of being awesome (FLAMING $%^#ING SKULLS!), the item is made available to premiere members who would’ve paid that for a year of membership anyways with all the other crazy-good benefits, and if that wasn’t enough, the items are now available on Solomon’s store for the free 200 runecoins they got when it first came out. Effectively, the item is now free for all members.

Kick in the groin, ha ha, that item that made you unique and special no longer does because everybody’s got it now.

For a more relatable example, if party hats were suddenly spawned again, there goes their value. Everybody has one now, so why would anyone pay a billion gold coins for another? Even if they were made untradable, hardly anybody would care for that. “Trading rare tradable party hat! 1 million to see in the trade window!” I’m sure even you’ve seen those kinds of scams before.

…no? Well, see, what the scam was was that you had to trade a player and give them some money for nothing, and then trade them back and they’ll show you this crazy-rare item for your screen-shotting addiction. Except 99.8% of the time the item advertised doesn’t exist and the player “loses connection forever” as they’re about to trade the second time. Sometimes they have the courtesy to say, “Be quick, my connection is not very good” before it happens. In a nutshell, never EVER give players your hard-earned money/stuff first before they give you something.

OK, back on topic.

While it is good for the players that more and more unique things are becoming public for them, it’s really bad for business. These crazy guys who are willing to spend their money for this item just to be unique make up the majority of the customers. And as the reputation stands now, if a unique item appears, it’s only a matter of time when it becomes almost free, so there’s really no point in getting it now. You lose these crazy people from this sort of reputation, and virtual items no longer sell.

This is similar to what happens to buying/selling video games in general. Pay a lot to be one of the few to play it first, and as the days roll by, it’s old news and really not worth much anymore. Unless it’s a really good game, to which it becomes a classic and it never really loses its value. Only difference is that there are many ways to obtain a video game, as opposed to the initial one method to obtain a unique item on Runescape (which really is the appeal right there). Buy it retail, second hand, or off a friend. Or screw over the video game business by pirating it and preventing the funding needed to make more good games in the future, replacing them with mediocre games shot down by “critics” you’re not really supposed to take seriously but can’t help it.


My point being; if you’re going to offer a unique item for cash, keep it unique. “Buy it before it’s gone forever” should really mean “buy it before it’s gone FOREVER”. “You won’t get a chance like this again”: that’s the selling line right there. Pressure! Urgency! Destroy any ability for the consumer to rationally think and hit them with a “you have to choose NOW!”. Doesn’t work when “buy it before it’s gone forever” becomes automatically interpreted as “buy it before it’s gone for a few months, but comes back even cheaper”.

Keep them unique! No more returns! FLAMING $%^#ING SKULLS!

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!

This article is filed under Runescape. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can discuss this article on our forums.