Fatal Financials?

posted by on 7th February 2015, at 9:00am

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Jagex will be raising their Membership prices come March 1st. This has caused quite a stir of opinions all across the community, and rightfully so. Why? Because the subject has many facets.

Let me start by saying I have been a subscriber for the past 9 years, so my cost will not be raised from my current $5. There are also quite a few other loyal subscribers on RSBandB who will also remain unaffected, financially.
However the fact that my pocketbook won’t change does not mean that this change won’t affect me. There are multiple reasons why it may, including the potential for month-to-month members to stop playing and preventing new blood from joining. These are the two groups that will be hit the hardest by this change. I do not have a chart of how many people pay month-to-month, but I’m fairly certain it’s a decent amount. This also includes those people who pay via bonds sometimes and via cash other times.

Regarding new members, as I and a few others mentioned in a discussion on the forums, this change makes subscribing more daunting: $9.49 instead of $7.99. Why did they not just do $9.99? Probably because as Shane pointed out, there is a mental difference between $5, $7.99, $9.49, $9.99, and $10. They want to charge $10, but $9.49 feels like a lot less than $10, despite being only half a dollar less. Gaining new members is something Jagex has been struggling with for the past few years, and they know it.

So why make it less likely for new members to join? I can’t say exactly. But quite a few people theorize that since Jagex already has issues with gaining new members they are doing this to increase income from the month-to-monthers and essentially throwing in the towel when it comes to new members. If this is a case it is an extremely bad sign for Runescape as it means Jagex has changed their mindset from looking towards the future to looking towards the bank, and how much money they can harvest before the game finally folds. With how much they push SOF and SGS, this does seem to be the case. People will pay to gamble and look good, and once the game folds that all goes away, but Jagex still gets the money. I truly hope this is not the case.

One Redditor joked:
“‘Our game is dying, lets make it more expensive to get new players to join our game.’
One of the best things about runescape was it was only $5 a month, for the price of a new game I could get a year of Runescape with it’s constant updates and awesome mmoness, that is why i played it so many years ago.”

While the first bit seems funny, it may be possible. His last bit is one of the big reasons why Runescape thrived so much previously. For $60, payed at only $5 a month, you could play an awesome game that was constantly being updated. Compared to single release or single player games of the time, that was a steal.

Another thing that the increased membership price will do is force more current subscribers to maintain their subscription out of fear. Say you’re going to take a few months break from Runescape, it’ll cost you another $1.50 a month to do that now. In the case of those of us with old prices, it is more efficient to maintain our current subscription for a year even if we never play during that time.

“Sounds to me like that is their intention with this change.
They know that they probably aren’t going to ever get another large influx of new players, so instead they hold their current members hostage by threatening to jack up the sub if they leave and ever try to come back.”

A few people have suggested that they should raise the price across the board, not just for new subscriptions but also those veterans like myself and many here at RSBandB. I say, why? They already ignore their loyal members, those who have continued subscribing even during some of their biggest blunders and stupidest choices. Loyalty points are a joke as are the 5 and 10 year capes, which are not cosmetic overrides and have nowhere near good enough stats for endgame so no one wears them. A single 99 cape is more than 6x better than the 10 year cape and yet can be gained in a week. Shouldn’t 10 years be an accomplishment?
If Jagex were to increase the price of current subscribers it would be the final nail in the coffin.

Some people say that raising from $5 to $9.49 over 10 years isn’t bad. An 89.8% increase sounds like a lot to me. While inflation certainly accounts for some of that, it certainly does not account for all of that. Can you imagine if WoW did a 89.8% increase? Who would pay $28.47 a month to play a game? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Blizzard recently raised the price of WoW. The difference between that and this? They raised it only £1.00, other currencies were unaffected because the change was brought on due to changes of that currency’s locale. According to inflation calculations based off the US CPI, an item or service of $5 in 2004 should be roughly $6.27 today. An item or service of $7.95 in 2012 should be roughly $8.20. I don’t think inflation is behind the increased cost.

I still firmly believe that if this change was brought on due to financial issues at Jagex they would make other changes before charging more, or at least that’s what most companies would do. They could very easily shutdown at least half their servers which should dramatically decrease their costs. It makes more sense to condense worlds and then re-open them as the playerbase can support them.

However, that is not what they are doing.

A few people have said last year’s financials were reasonable, albeit not great(I have yet to see these, if anyone has a link I’d appreciate it). If the company is doing fine financially, why the increase? Jagex never gave us a reason.

If the price increase is needed, then why are they not doing other actions first?
If the price increase is not needed, then why are they doing it?

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