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UK Parliament criticizes Runescape 3 for addictive gambling technology

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A few days ago, UK Parliament released a report detailing addictive technologies and specifically mentioned Jagex's lootbox MTX system (Treasure Hunter). The report states:


62. We were contacted by a member of the public whose adult son built up considerable debts, reported to be in excess of £50,000, through spending on microtransactions in British company Jagex’s online game RuneScape. For example, bank statements showed that in one day the individual spent £247.95 by making five separate payments to the company. The resulting debt caused significant financial harm for both the player and his parents, whose evidence attributed the situation to the fact that Jagex has no limits on the amount of time or money players can spend on the game. This demonstrated to us that even companies with good policies to support some aspects of player wellbeing can fall short in other areas.

63. Jagex told us that it generates about one-third of its revenue from microtransactions, with two-thirds coming from an alternative subscription model. The company’s director of player experience Kelvin Plomer told us that players “can potentially spend up to £1,000 a week or £5,000 a month” in RuneScape, but that only one player had hit that limit in the previous 12 months.120 The company’s reasoning for setting this limit seemed to stem from fraud prevention, rather than out of a duty of care to prevent people spending more than they are able. Jagex does allow players to “request deletion of the account or suspension of the account or a payment block”; however, crucially in the case of the parent who contacted us, for data protection reasons it can deal only with account holders and so was unable to take direct action in response to the parent’s concerns.

64. Other players have raised similar concerns about in-game spending in RuneScape, and have referenced the way the game is designed to encourage players to spend more. For example, one told us that in his five years playing RuneScape:

I’ve spent over $2000 CAD on in-game wealth and in-game progression. I am not proud of this. I’ve loaded my credit card with $500 CAD in one night to skip hundreds of hours of content I didn’t find enjoyable to unlock achievements because of a promotion they were running. I’ve spent $300 CAD in 20 minutes legally on in-game wealth I lost instantly gambling because I wanted more in-game wealth to purchase better gear.



Hooray! Will this make a difference? Nope. I think the only real change we could see is reducing the amount of keys you can buy per week.

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I remember the good ole days when you could go to Lumbridge and find an account with maxed non-combat skills for sale at $5.

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Microtransactions are a plague that need outside intervention to stop, just like the opioid epidemic. I mean, obviously not as bad as that, but still, addiction and victim-blaming.

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