Earlier this month, the Squeal of Fortune was released in RuneScape. It's been made abundantly clear that a great many members of the RuneScape community don't support the update allowing players to buy spins with real-life money. We've been listening to you! Earlier this week we sent a letter to Jagex regarding the Squeal of Fortune, combining some of the most recurring concerns and complaints with our own thoughts and opinions of how the SoF has negatively impacted RuneScape. We're hoping that we can grab Jagex's attention and make a difference, to keep RuneScape a fun and fair game for everyone!
The following is the message we sent to Jagex on April 25. We'll keep you posted on any developments or updates as we receive them!
The Sal's Realm Manifesto
In recent times of economic hardship, many online games are seeing a fall off of subscriptions to paying services. As sad as this fact is, the reality of it can be seen in the declining population of RuneScape. At the end of the day what is important for Jagex is to see a game well-made and a profit made for both them and their shareholders. As players, we both respect Jagex’s business interests and embrace the product that makes us customers of Jagex in the first place. In short, we have a deep care for future of the company and game we've all grown to love so much.
Because of this love for RuneScape, we at Sal's Realm have always held the opinion that RuneScape is a success both as a game and product thanks to the deep level of respect that Jagex and the player community have for each other; as both strive to make the game the best experience it can be. Because of this fact, many players are curious as to how Jagex can continue to remain in the black in the next financial year with the recurring economic hardships many are facing. While many other games have long relied on fully subscription-based models, other popular free to play games have made use of the micro-transaction model, which is the offer of virtual goods/benefits for a small real world price.
Many small online games have used this micro-transaction model to gain immense profits, a decision for which many players do not begrudge them--so long as the game remains balanced and enjoyable. However, some game companies simply do not hold micro-transactions as within the spirit of their product, as they quite often give certain players unfair advantages over others. Jagex has seemingly taken such a stance in the past. In fact, CEO Mark Gerhard has been quoted in The Guardian as saying:
"A lot of the free offerings are sadly misleading because they're not. Most of them rely on the microtransaction system, which is really a stealth tax; I prefer to call it death by a thousand cuts," says Mark Gerhard, the chief executive of RuneScape's creator, Jagex. His titles solely use advertising and membership revenue streams; there are no in-game transactions. “It’s the psychology of it. You can better monetise a person taking 20 cents off them for every item, than to ask someone for $10 up front. Commercially you can say it's a great opportunity, the way of the future. Ethically you can say it devalues the product."
You can then of course see the quandary presented to players by the update to the Squeal of Fortune on April 2nd, 2012: specifically the ability to purchase more spins. Should one invest enough real-world money, one could actually receive enough experience from the wheel to achieve level 99 in a skill.
Further silence from Jagex on the issue has continued to frustrate users, causing many to cancel their memberships, further hurting the game. We sincerely hope to see some form of explanation from Jagex in the coming weeks, as well as a sincere attempt the outrage of the community to heart and mind in reevaluating this update.
Obviously, we wish nothing but the best for Jagex and the continued well-being of RuneScape, but the Sal’s community has asked itself: can we support this newest move by Jagex to implement micro-transactions, a move they themselves only a few years ago would have deemed unethical? The answer is no. Even as expensive as it would be for one to buy enough spins to advance a skill to level 99, it still remains that the possibility exists for a Jagex-sponsored RWT extravaganza.
Sal's Realm of RuneScape was brought forth by the love of a game by one man. It has since then grown into a community full of different people from different walks of life. We're proud to hold a Platinum-level fansite rating, because it displays our commitment to this game, the high standards set by Jagex, and the player-community. But because we have such love for this game, we must ask that Jagex reconsider their decision, and recall that the spirit of this game is what draws people into it.
It’s highly disappointing, upon login, to see Jagex pushing the Squeal Wheel so aggressively, as well as so prominently displaying the option to pay real-world money to buy more spins. This is such a far cry from the original stances supposedly held by this company that it’s nauseating. Jagex’s disregard for player security by making it so easy to buy spins with stored credit card information opens less-aware players up to hardship if their account password is stolen. Furthermore, Jagex’s as well as their evident intent to take advantage of their users—especially younger players—in what is essentially a form of gambling is deeply troubling to customers who remember a much more “players-first” RuneScape that has slowly been eroded as time has progressed.
These comments may well end in Sal's losing its Platinum-level rating. But we are servants to our community, and we feel confident knowing that these views are keeping with the true spirit of the game, which perhaps has been the driving force of this site for all its years. This is a decision of conscience. We cannot in good faith support this move by Jagex.
While this all may sound rude or harsh considering how much we all have loved RuneScape over the years, it is only said out of that same love and care. To quote James A Baldwin, "I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." We simply have invested so much of our time and effort into this game and its community that we are deeply troubled that something as unethical as this recent update by Jagex would ever show up in this wonderful game. We encourage Jagex, if they read this, to not be insulted, but hopefully awed by the fact that they have created a community with an ethical sense this strong and be inspired to work with the community to reach a solution that pleases both parties.
Sal’s Realm of RuneScape Staff