2020 is almost past us and earlier this December we caught a glimpse of the Jagex 2019 financial reports. These reports this year are largely meaningless because of the company sale that was underway and that we saw them about 6 months later than we normally do. But what are the biggest reveals from the year ending 2019?
Is it that revenues continued to increase? Nope. Is it that Old School brought in more revenue than RuneScape 3 for the first time? Nope. It is that RuneScape 3 product revenue remained stable (while actual revenue went down)? Getting there. The biggest revelation is that the reason RuneScape 3 revenue remained stable was because of a deliberate tapering of micro-transaction advertising.
On page 5 it reads “the year on year difference being further tapering of micro-transactions offerings in light of customer sentiment and fatigue.” Customer sentiment and fatigue. Ask yourself who just won the idea battle for RuneScape 3. We’ll be back in a paragraph with the answer.
Personally for yours truly, I have no problem with micro-transactions. What I’m going to lay out going forward is a blueprint that somebody could follow who doesn’t like micro-transactions and wants to make a lasting difference on the game’s community. This isn’t a cause that I personally have the time to see through but it’s amazing to me that one central figurehead championing it has not yet emerged. What follows is your blueprint to remove Treasure Hunter from RuneScape 3 in 2021.
The answer to that question posited a paragraph ago is of course the anti-micro-transaction player base. Here’s what is important to know before charting the course forward. These are all points that have been publicly stated.
First, Mod Warden, Executive Producer, wants to see a world where blind chance is completely removed from micro-transactions and he would prefer it to not be a loot box. This is important because the leads team that is built up around him of Mod Osborne (episodic), Mod Hypnos (core experience), and Mod Mic (live ops) determines the direction of the game going forward.
Second, we have evidence that Jagex has already started pulling back on micro-transactions. This shows that they are willing to listen, and try new things out. This also shows us that it can’t be an overnight job and we’re already 18 months+ into the action of pulling back.
Finally, there’s a middle that players are not aware of between Old School player sentiment transposed on RuneScape 3 and the quality bar we’ve seen in 2020 that can push a game forward on its own. By player sentiment of Old School I mean the die hard following that will play Old School despite its graphical appearance. Capturing some of this but tailored specifically for RuneScape 3 with the quality of the 2020 launches is a recipe forward.
Step 1 is to decide what the future looks like. We’ve had a number of Yak Tracks with an impressive array of cosmetic options. We also have seen early concepts of what a player model rework looks like. This provides the option of further enhancing cosmetic options available to players. We use the bank and we use the chat daily and these are key game features. The player avatar is the representation of you in-game. It is perhaps the most important feature in-game. We should be able to customize it!
The next most important thing is to be able to shut down members of your following who are not being helpful. If 25% of people are being constructive but the 75% are a raging crowd, the 25% cease to exist. The movement to remove Treasure Hunter needs to be calm, orderly, and constructive. Complaining each week about something being broken or minor niggles weakens your case. Focus on one strong-point and run with it.
Following from this, step 2 is to provide constructive feedback along the way and vote with your wallet. This is why I previously mentioned shutting down people who are not being helpful. Without constructive feedback the only metric is sales made. Sales made is a fine metric internally but humans are wired to respond to positive criticism. A corporation is wired to respond to positive criticism that will make it more money. We can all say to vote with our wallets but if we’re not actively providing constructive positive feedback along the way, we don’t get anywhere.
The final and most important step? Talk to people. Tell them about your goals of reducing the impact of micro-transactions. Tell them about the most recent financial report and that things are moving in the right direction. Tell them the importance of maintaining a calm and orderly following. Tell them about the need to vote with their wallet and provide constructive feedback.
Why will this work? It comes down to basic human psychology and that the numbers are finally on the right side. People are naturally wired to respond positively positive criticism. People also like to help, the only question that arises is if those they are trying to help will put ego aside. With a game that has no micro-transactions leading corporate revenue the argument that it can’t be done disappears. That’s why under the right push from the community, 2021 stands to be the year the most progress can be made against Treasure Hunter like micro-transactions.