Toying With Gambling

posted by on 25th April 2012, at 4:41pm

I had originally intended to be delivering a new interface mockup for RuneScape this month but I feel my time is better devoted to discussing new purchasable spins for Squeal of Fortune. Those of you who listen to RSBANDBUpdate! will know that I am a big defender of Squeal of Fortune. It’s a great way for Jagex to earn more money which, hopefully, means better content for the player base. It’s also a good way for players to tip Jagex if they like what they see. We also benefit from the little rewards that we get in game. Overall I think Squeal of Fortune is a good idea and I’m not going to talk anymore about the pros and cons of the game mechanic itself. If you want to hear more about our initial thoughts I invite you to listen to RSBANDBUpdate! 355.

The actual topic for today is morals. There’s a good amount of people in the world today who lack a decent moral compass. I won’t go into who or what type of people they are but I assure you, they exist. Corporations also have moral obligations to fulfill with regard to their customer base and the world in general. Over the past week Jagex has cast some doubt upon the player base as to whether or not they are one of those companies that actually does care about their own moral obligations.

A few weeks ago when purchasable spins came out I thought, $5, $10, even $20, that’s fine. There was a tiny voice in my head that said something to the tune of, “this is gambling, this should not be available for under age players.” Sometime over the past week Jagex added a $50 and $100 pricing tier for purchasable Squeal of Fortune spins. Spending $50 or $100 will net you 200 or 450 spins respectively. I can see spending $5, $10, $20, or even $30 on spins that’s respectable. But $50 or $100? That’s just absurd and is bordering on gambling.

Let me be clear once again that I am not against the idea of spending money on spins. I myself love games of chance, they’re one of my favourite. With that being said once a year I could see myself spending $50 on a spin package just for a one-off gambling session. Unless the core demographic of RuneScape has changed and the vast majority of players are over the age of 18 adding the $50 and $100 option is showing a lack of morals and may be breaking the law in certain countries. Even though Squeal of Fortune is technically not gambling (you get something every time), it is actually gambling because the chance of someone wanting to keep 5 soft clay is pretty small. Once again, I like the idea of Squeal of Fortune but it is a weak form of gambling.

Gambling is something that has existed for hundreds of years. People do it all the time, it’s something that has become ingrained in our culture. Even though Squeal of Fortune is technically not gambling it’s worth examining how the two are similar. People can gamble in moderation or they can develop an addiction and eventually lose their home and much more. Gambling is more often than not better for the house than the person placing a bet. Both of the above are true for Jagex with regards to Squeal of Fortune. Players can only gamble in moderation, there’s a set limit of spins per day that can be purchased. Also, all proceeds from purchased Squeal of Fortune spins go to Jagex directly, thus the house benefits for every purchased spin a player takes.

Jagex has two of the three pillars of what gambling actually consists of. The third being that with actual gambling a reward is not guaranteed. Even though Squeal of Fortune is technically not gambling it is the opinion of this article that an age restriction must be put in place. Presently it appears as though Jagex does not currently enforce a legal age requirement on Squeal of Fortune. This could be deemed as underage gambling in some countries. Are teenagers allowed to run to the convenience store down the street to buy a lottery ticket where you live? Are teenagers allowed to visit a casino just for some casual fun? Are teenagers allowed to visit the horse races and decide which horse may win? If you answered no to any of these questions then you probably have a law that prohibits underage gambling. Adding an age restriction on the ability to purchase spins for Squeal of Fortune would illustrate Jagex leading by example. This would show that, yes, Squeal of Fortune is a weak form of gambling and must have similar rules.

Jagex, please take this as humble advice from one of your long term players (since 2004) who has stood by when many others have not. Add an age restriction to who may purchase Squeal of Fortune spins. And with this, lead by example one more time.

As always if you have any comments or suggestions leave them in the discussion topic or send me a private message.

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