The past few months have seen some interesting additions. The two that really caught my eye were the drastic increase in membership prices and the ability to buy an in-game advantage with real cash.
“Woah, woah, woah! Hold your little ponies! An IN-GAME ADVANTAGE with REAL CASH?!”
You bet’cha, dobbin.
The Squeal of fail-I mean Fortune, was added a few weeks ago. It, as most of us know, gives you a (not)random chance of getting decent(pathetic) loot from a completely (not)random wheel of rewards. You get two chances a day. More times than not, as you’ve probably figured out by now, you’ll get junk. That is to say you’ll get 50gp, a bronze arrow, or maybe, if you’re lucky, an experience lamp of some sort. Each time the wheel is spun there are three decent rewards possible. Usually an experience lamp, 10m cash, or a rare/expensive item. I have never seen the wheel give a good item. It almost landed on a good item three times for me but then jumped to a trash item. I once heard that a friends’ friend got something good. But again, I’ve never seen it happen.
Anyways, if 2 spins a day isn’t good enough for you then you can buy more. With cash. Real Cash. Like the kind you bought that soda with. Like the kind of cash that a bank accepts…Yea, you know what kind I’m referring to.
For the low, low price of only $4.99 ($5) you can get 10 spins on the Squeal of Fortune.
Or, if that’s not enough to fill your cup of tea, you can get twice the spins for twice the price! That’s right, 20 spins for the amazingly low price of only $9.99 ($10)! But wait, there’s more! They will also toss in an additional 5 spins – free!
You say 25 spins + your 2 daily’s isn’t enough? Well they have an even better deal that is perfect for you, then! For an (un)limited time only you can buy twice as many more spins as before for only twice the price. Yep, that’s right, 40 spins for the super-duper incredibly low, low, inhuman price of only $19.99 ($20)! But WAIT! There is most certainly MORE to this amazing deal of a lifetime. Not only do you receive the 40 spins you are paying for, but for this offer only they will include an additional 87.5% more spins, ABSOLUTELY FREE! That’s right! You get 75 spins for only $19.99! That’s not even $20 dollars!
So, now that I’m done being an As-Seen-On-TV-Advertisement-Guy, let’s back up this little yacht.
You can buy…
10 spins for $4.99
20 + 5 = 25 for spins $9.99
40 + 35 = 75 for spins $19.99
Now, overall, those prices seem decent on a cost:item ratio. But realize what this is: You are paying cash, real world money, for a spin ticket for Runescape, for an in-game item. Think about that.
Thought about it? The release of this is Jagex condoning (that means endorsing, encouraging, saying you should) buying in-game advantages with real money. BUT! The difference is you are giving them the money. So is allllll right, man.
Hmm…Let’s do some history here…
It took a little digging through Runescape’s messed up game guide (cheap knock-off of the Runescape wiki or any other Fansite), to find this.
I won’t quote the whole page, but please read it. I’ll only quote this:
“Real-world trading is the term used for the real-world purchase of services with the intention of advancing your Jagex character. This includes, but is not limited to: purchasing gold or items in RuneScape, buying a RuneScape account as well as paying someone to increase your account’s experience (XP) in a skill or for them to complete quests and activities on your behalf.”
Now, if you read that page you’ll notice this is an old version of the rule, why? Good question. That’s because Jagex knows they are condonig the purchase of in-game advantages. The new rule states that it is ‘OK’ to buy in-game advantages, so long as Jagex receives the money (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch..).
Here is the current rule. Please read it. I’ll quote the important part.
“Real-world trading is the term used for activities which occur outside of the game environment which result in the real-world sale or purchase of items, gp or services with the intention of supplying or advancing a Jagex in-game character other than by the means which are incorporated into the game.“
Interesting, eh? Let’s do a side-by-side comparison.
“Real-world trading is the term used for the real-world purchase of services with the intention of advancing your Jagex character.”
“Real-world trading is the term used for activities which occur outside of the game environment which result in the real-world sale or purchase of items, gp or services with the intention of supplying or advancing a Jagex in-game character|Stop right here. other than by the means which are incorporated into the game.”
If you read those two sentences you’ll notice they are exactly the same except for two things: First, the second has more legalese (language used in legal documents to expressly define and specifically point out certain details). Legalese, more oft than not, merely takes up more space and makes it more confusing to normal people. Secondly, the second adds another thought to the end of the rule. “other than by the means which are incorporated into the game.” Bingo! That makes everything Okie-Dokie Fine and dandy that Jagex is selling in-game advantages.
That’s like saying it’s alright for the CEO of a company to embezzle $200 million in funds because he’s just getting an advance in his $200 thousand yearly pay. Sure, that’s fine. Let the company pay him his salary upfront which he’ll earn over the next 1,000 years. Yep. Go ahead.
“So what are you saying, Jagex just broke their own rule?”
To be frank(whoever he is), Yes, I am.
“But other games do it! LOTRO, the game you always reference, does it! Heck! Even Diablo III will do it!”
Mmmm, you are…not correct. Let me explain those two, briefly.
LOTRO does allow you to pay real cash to buy points to get advantages in game, BUT you can also earn those same exact points in-game by doing normal activities like questing and killing things.
Diablo III allows you to buy items on the Auction house for real cash, that is, Real Cash Credit. Huh, What’s the dif? You start with 5 free listings. If you sell an item using a free listing then you’ll get credits without having spent any money. If you do this wisely and often then you will have earned all the credits you need to buy what you want.
Now, I know you can get spin tickets in-game from monster drops or certain skills, which is good. But that does not stop anything, it only makes it a little more fair for those who don’t have extra money to spend on Runescape.
Of course you can also argue that the Squeal of Fail spins are hardly game changing, and that’s true since it’s not possible to get good loot. Oh sure, it’s on there. But can anyone give me a not photo shopped screenshot of them getting a godsword or third age?
So, if the Squeal of Fail never gives anything good, why buy more worthless spins? The thrill of the chance! That is to say, to gamble!
Yea, well, anytime you do something with a random outcome you are gambling. Even soloing K’ril Tsutsarot is a gamble, albeit less than some others.
Anyone remember the dice game, the flower game, the toy horseys? They were all added for fun, but were turned into gambling utensils because they had random outcomes. Because of this Jagex removed the dice, changed what the toy horseys said, though so far have not changed the flowers.
So, why is Jagex allowing and encouraging people to spend real money on an in-game gamble? I honestly do not know. Jagex isn’t the only game to do that. I’ve played another game that did that. That game wasn’t very good and a random Wheel of Fail thing wasn’t so out of place. But in Runescape? Legalized gambling in Runescape? Dude, this game is played by 10 year olds – regardless of age restrictions! You really want a gambling addict that young?
Now granted, it’s not likely those kids will turn into gambling addicts, but that’s due to the fact that they probably can’t afford their membership and extra spins.
Which brings up another topic I wanted to talk about, Membership Price.
From launch until August 18th 2008(7 years), the price of one month of Runescape was $5. After August 18th it changed to $5.95. Not too big of a jump, though still annoying. In February 2012 the price jumped up $2 to $7.95. Now that is a 26% increase. Not exactly peanuts.
So why the 38% increase in price since start? Well admittedly some costs have gone up. But then, so has Jagex’s membership base. As I write this there are 120,000 people on Runescape. Assuming a conservative ~40% are members, that’s around 50 thousand members. Of course lots of their members work 9-5 5 days a week so of course they aren’t on right now. If we assume another 50% to the number gives us roughly 75,000 member subcribers.
But then we also have to consider the fact that the Runescape High scores are now members only and that there are 1,094,229 people on that list. So if we go by that list, at the $5.95 price, that gives us a monthly revenue of $6,510,662.55. With the yearly being $78,127,950.60.
That’s a lot of dough. The $2 increase will add another $2,188,458 monthly and $26,261,496 yearly. Making the total monthly $8,699,120.55 and the yearly $104,389,446.60. Time for some expansion! Right?
It seems strange to me that when Jagex was already making $78 million a year why they would need to add another $26 million plus the revenue from their new gambling system, Squeal of Fortune. Why do they need so much money when they ran fine on $5 a month for 7 years?
Oh, and let’s not forget that a $6 billion company owns 55% of Jagex.