So, here we are again. I’ve already written about the Squeal of Fortune (SoF), the previous ‘Extra’ tagged on. Now I shall cover Solomon’s General Store (which I’ll abbreviate S’GS to avoid confusion with a game item).
And, actually, the Squeal represents a much more corrosive attack on the game than S’GS right now.
The new store – confusingly similar to the entirely separate and ancient shops seen in game functions much more normally – and comparably to other games – by selling cosmetic items and abilities (that is, stuff which doesn’t affect a players ability to do skills or combat etc) for a entirely new virtual currency – Runecoins.
Quite why this has to be Jagex’s 4th virtual currency is completely beyond me – 3 of them interact with RuneScape. The 4 are WoL Gems, JCoins, Spins and Runecoins for those loosing track. There was a 5th but 8Realms was closed.
Anyway, this is a new micro-transaction based Real World Trading system. Of course it doesn’t affect Jagex’s ability to go after players who try and sell their account details or exchange items for cash because that section of the terms and conditions – namely the rules – apply only to players.
People have speculated whether this will become a replacement to SoF. However I doubt it.
Firstly it makes no business sense to remove work done unless it actually costs you money.
Secondly people may still choose to buy spins. The people who want a game advantage – either from a ‘Lucky’ item, coins or lamps – are not the same as those who wish to obtain cosmetic items.
The only reason to remove SoF is if it is possible to buy the items directly – at which point spinning the wheel looks silly.
Many players consider this outcome an inevitability. It’s also worth saying that promises from Jagex aren’t worth the forum space they are written on (and are not absolutes), given that it is clearly the dominant investors calling the shots. The main investor – Insight Venture Partners – has holdings in Nexon which is full of RWT based mechanics.
Whether RuneScape gets there is unclear – many MMOs limit themselves to cosmetic rewards.
Other J-Mods have gone on record saying they have vetoed such mechanics – Mod Rathe is a notable example.
In a recent interview with NowGamer a certain amount of reading between the lines shows that Mod Mark (Mark Ogilvie) may be apprehensive about the rate of change to RuneScape’s model. It is interesting this occurs just before the questions directly on monetization – which he opts to discuss the safe topic of a time limit for F2P (which is a dead model across the industry do this isn’t a shocking insight really):
MO: Find your niche and own it. Don’t be afraid to innovate to stay competitive, but not at the expense of your core community or gameplay.
I really hope that the investors stop before ruining the gameplay itself myself. I would simply say that the line is thin and the end result is irreversible. RuneScape is profitable. Not all their investments are (e.g. Twitter).
One moe insidious problem is that these come unannounced. They aren’t seen as a game updates, merely marketing, simply coming attached to the content updates produced.
This is another sign that it’s like two teams fighting for control. On one side you have the content which I continue to enjoy. Whether or not I like every single bit overall the trend is really cool – better graphics, new and amusing quests, great interaction and changes by the Evolution of Combat team. It’s just fighting my knowledge that along with this comes an endless stream of promotions, discounts, new RWT stores and tacky sales figures to which some poor Content dev has had to think how to attach some lore for the main page post.
On a final note, I would like to say that it is still worth them crushing bots and gold farmers – companies which can’t simply give players gold and must farm it cause more damage than Jagex would (but both remove the ‘game’ aspect)