Last July the Editor wrote a timely article about players getting the impression that Jagex hates them, or deciding that they hate Jagex ('I hate Jagex and Jagex hates me', July 28th 2006). Lately, especially after the controversial update to shops, there's been a fairly strong negative feeling around the game. Skillers have lost features that were essential to their preferred method of making money, merchants can't sell items at their previous price, the list is endless. So what possessed Jagex to do this? They must have known full well that it'd have serious effects on the community. For a change, they explained it remarkably clearly: it's supposed to stop bots abusing the shops.
The newsposts on the RuneScape site tell us of an on-going battle between Jagex and bots. (May 1st, May 11th.) We don't get much news from the battlefield, but Jagex announced that they banned over 19000 accounts in the first two weeks just for botting. After that it went a bit quiet. Players posted on forums that Jagex must have given up on fighting bots, or that Jagex must be afraid to get rid of the bots for fear of losing their subscriptions. It's hard to track the exact number of little bald men in green pants, after all, and Jagex hasn't been posting details.
Then, out of the blue, we get a change to shops, explicitly targeted at the bots that camp in shops to get the stock. This is a very interesting sign. It's had severe negative effects, especially on anyone who trained Crafting on battlestaves or who used the Charter Ship shops for seaweed. Yet they've done it anyway, trying to get the bots out of RuneScape. I hope we'd all agree that the bots need to go!
We criticize Jagex for many reasons. Popular comments I've seen in people's "I-hate-Jagex" topics include "They don't care about the game", "They only want the money", "They're just doing silly little updates and not fixing the big problems", "They're afraid of people whining, so they won't do anything about this problem", etc. That's not just background juvenile moaning, it's a serious opinion expressed by intelligent and mature members of the RuneScape community. Let's look at those comments in the light of Jagex's recent activities...
Their developer diaries tell us that the shop update was a huge amount of work for them. If they really didn't care about the problem of bots in shops, they could have happily churned out yet another random quickie-quest. Sure, we pay them to do this kind of thing (either by subscribing or by viewing their ads), but we'd have been paying them just the same to write the quickie-quest! Instead they took the time and trouble to have a go at fixing a very real problem in the game. This makes it pretty clear that whoever's pulling the strings in Jagex, be it Andrew, Paul or this "Mod Hobagoly" person, isn't just interested in the money or the silly little updates. They're really trying to improve RuneScape, and kudos to them for this.
Now for the matter of Jagex being afraid of people whining. They must have known that this sort of change would cause a fair bit of trouble and resentment, and still they've done it. Of course we can't be sure exactly what they'll do to the shops in future, but it's a pretty safe bet that anyone demanding that Jagex undo the update will be disappointed. That's not a sign of a company being too afraid of upsetting people to do things that need doing. Again, kudos to them for this.
Here's where it's gotten complicated, though. On one hand, Jagex is willing to do controversial updates to eradicate botting scum from the game. On the other hand, they've seriously annoyed many players in the process of doing it, and those players are legitimate customers of Jagex. Jagex presumably doesn't mind losing some people's subscriptions in the interests of stamping out bots, for which they earn big kudos in my book - they can't be purely interested in the money if they're willing to risk losing subscriptions when they improve the game. However, isn't that a distinctly unpleasant way to treat loyal customers? How far could Jagex change the game to get rid of bots before YOU get upset? Wouldn't it be worth it to have the game bot-free? We know how to avoid scams and how to keep our accounts secure, we don't start sobbing when we see naughty words bypassing the filter, etc., but we cannot get away from the effects of botting on the economy and high-scores table.
Anyway, let's recap. People hate Jagex for not caring, for only being interested in the money, for being too afraid to do what needs doing. There are many reasons to be annoyed at Jagex, but these aren't the ones. Jagex has made it abundantly clear that they're pulling out all the stops to tackle the problem, despite the cost to themselves. Gotta give 'em some respect for that. We can, however, remain very annoyed at the effects of their updates. But wouldn't we have been angry if the shops were still full of bots making a profit by hoarding the stock? Apparently we'd be angry at Jagex either way - we can't win, and nor can Jagex. But at least they're working to make sure the bots won't win either!
Did You Know...
... that if you wear cyan and green clothes and stand near a flax-picker bot, it may start to follow you. You can then try to lead it somewhere funny!
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