The Great Update Rate Debate
There’s been a whole lot of discussion about how updates for Runescape will work moving forward. While the surveys and polls and arguing is just about over, I don’t want the totality of the results (or lack there of) to be lost. While there’s strong arguments about players getting their money’s worth of updates each month and Jagex being able to focus on bigger updates for longer, I would like to make the point that what we are basically deciding is the mentality of updates going forward. And, dare I be controversial in saying so, that the end result really didn’t matter, because we’re going to get updates how Jagex wants us to get updates either way.
First, let us consider the age-old question: quantity vs. quality. There’s not one right answer all the time. Would I want one donut a month that was handmade by a culinary chef or a manufactured run-of-the-mil donut every few days? Replace the donut with a back massage – a lovely Asian masseuse or a discount handheld wand? I would venture to say that depending on what it is, the answer is different for certain people. We all have different wants. I don’t get to play often, so I have no problem with Jagex skipping a week here and there. Someone who’s heavy in the game needs that update every week to keep them interested or they’ll fall out of the game entirely. Jagex offered a survey regarding updates and people were confused about what their age or favorite updates have to do with frequency they are released. It has everything to do with updates – a 30 year old skiller’s playing habit is different from a 16 year old PKer’s. A 16 year old daily player needs more regular updates than a 30 year old. Their needs are different. Just as the wants of people are different.
Another thing that adds to the confusion as to what consists of updates is something that we didn’t really hear about in a tangible sense before things like the ninja team and Runelabs and that is update size. We have ninja, small, medium, and large updates now whereas before they were just different updates and some took longer and were bigger than others. Now with Jagex requesting Runelab ideas in a size connotation, we have to ask ourselves how many of what size updates a month will we be getting now? In fact, I’m surprised Jagex didn’t poll or put in a survey what we would want most. Can we get 3 medium and 1 small a month, or can we only get a large, a medium, and two smalls? Can you convert a large update for 2 medium updates? What exactly makes a medium update and what is required till it is considered large? I don’t like putting such confinements on updates. If Jagex says they have a medium update to Agility planned next month what can we expect? What if a proclaimed medium update really feels more like a small – can we complain? It all seems so arbitrary. What does it matter? Why can’t an update just be an update without us needing to put it in a flat rate box?
So we have voted on what we’d like to see and, for better or worse, we have chosen less frequent but more quality of updates. We seemed content in this until we saw the behind the scenes for April. People were then complaining about how barren the month looked. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for Jagex. They can say “but this is what you wanted – what you voted for!” and people would still complain. What people don’t realize is that even though we have been told that we will be getting less updates, they still said we will be getting weekly updates with small changes and ninja fixes. If you look back in the past few months we have had a week a month in which we’ve had just that. So what does this mean? It’s more of the same. And if we had voted the other way, we would see the same thing. Every week we would have an update and the “small” update would that week of ninja fixes. It’s all the same thing. We had a mere illusion of choice.
Whoopty doo, Basil! But what does it all mean? It means that we had all this drama and debate for Jagex to ultimately do the same thing they have been doing and want to continue to do. And if someone complains about just a ninja fix week? “Well, you guys said you wanted less but more quality updates…” Had we went the other way, slow weeks would be justified “Well, you guys said you wanted weekly updates no matter the quality, so here you go!”. So why did Jagex do this? I dunno. I guess just to silence people who complained every week that wasn’t a major update by using one of the above quotes. It’s not like Jagex is suddenly going to restructure their entire development team because of this decision. Ninja team will still do their thing. Each of the other teams will work on their respective projects each week. Because in the end, an update is only done when it is ready to be put in the game whether it’s big or small – er, sorry, “large” or “ninja”. And why change that? In a game industry where games are born and die in six months, RS has been chugging along for over a decade. I’d say they got it figured out before any poll or survey told them that.
So don’t worry if your side didn’t win in the Great Update Rate Debate because it really didn’t matter anyways.