The Tip.It Times

Issue 199gp

Maybe It’s Not About the Money?

Written by and edited by Tip.It

Prices in RuneScape have dropped. Whether you label recent events a deflation, a depression, a crash or just a much-needed correction to prices that had really been too high, there’s no doubt that most goods no longer cost as many gold pieces as they once did. Of course, some players are happy about this, and others definitely are not—especially skillers, many of whom have watched the prices of their products drop sometimes quite dramatically.

Many skillers now say that there is “no point” in having high skill levels, because they can’t make money with them at the lower price levels. Some have gone so far as to say that this is a big problem, because when they get to high skill levels they “deserve” to make lots of profits from those levels as a “reward”. This led me to wonder: is this really a valid complaint, or just a reflection of rather unrealistic views of skilling in the first place?

The first problem with these complaints is that those making them seem to forget that this issue is hardly new—many skills have been “money losers” for a very long time, in some cases for years. Examples include Construction, Cooking, Firemaking, Herblore and Smithing; in each of these skills, you usually lose money; at best you might break even or make a tiny profit. There are a few exceptions to this, but usually they make money at the cost of leveling more slowly (such as making cannonballs).

Despite the fact that they don’t make money, though, the skills listed above are very popular. This seems puzzling, for at least two reasons: why do these skills lose money, and why do people keep leveling them up if they do? The answer to both questions is the same, as it turns out: while some people view skills only as a means to make a profit, others have very different reasons to raise them. They raise them despite not making money, because they want higher skill levels for their own sake, or because they enjoy the process (working the skill) more than the end product (the output from the skill.)

It is because of this viewpoint that many skills lose money. The players who don’t care about profit are willing to buy raw materials for more than they can sell finished goods. This sets the tone of the market, and means that everyone who raises the skill will lose money—whether they want to or not.

Now, if you read that and concluded from it that the players who are willing to lose money are “selfish people who are ruining our skills!” then you missed the point entirely, which is that skills are not necessarily about making money.

Here are just a few reasons why people raise skills even if they don’t get a big profit from them.

Independence: Being a high-level smith means that you can make weapons and armor that you (or a friend) might need yourself, rather than relying on others. The same goes for skills like Cooking, Crafting, Herblore and others.

Accomplishment: Many players want to raise skills for the simple sense of accomplishment in doing so. This may be related to getting to a specific skill level, to increase total level ranking, and so forth. Consider how many people continue to raise skills well above level 99, for example; they are pursuing their own internal goals. Some even try to get skills up to the 200 million XP cap, when clearly there is no tangible benefit of doing so.

Skill Capes: Getting to level 99 to earn a skill cape is, of course, a major reason why many players raise skills. (In fact, these capes are a big reason why so many skills now lose money.)

Enjoyment: Some players just enjoy raising particular skills. Some do a certain skill all the time for fun, and others just do skills on occasion when the opportunity presents itself—such as walking by a flax field with an empty inventory and then later spinning that flax to make bowstrings for fletching.

Social Interaction: For many players, raising skills is all about interaction with others—chatting at a spot with others working the skill, joining a skill-related clan chat channel, and so forth.

Opportunities: Having high skill levels enables you to do high-level quests, get into guilds, and access special dungeons and other areas. It also gives you a potential edge in any new skills that may be released, since new skills always interact with existing ones in various ways.

Skill-Related Rewards: There are a number of non-financial benefits to many skills. For example, a high Construction level lets you build useful rooms in your house to let you teleport, recharge prayer and more. Similarly, a high Smithing level saves you on Barrows repair costs in your player-owned house.

Now, consider that all of these benefits—and probably some that I missed—apply to skills where you don’t make money, but they also mostly apply to those where you do earn a profit. Skills like Farming, Fishing, Hunter, Mining and Runecrafting may not make you a RuneScape billionaire, but there’s no denying that you can earn a pretty good “living” from them—in addition to their other uses. So maybe sharks are 650 each now instead of 900, and perhaps coal isn’t going to be 200 again for a long time. You can still earn money, have fun and improve your character all at the same time, though, through Fishing and Mining. So maybe there really isn’t such a big problem after all? :)

I hope this little essay gives you something to think about the next time you start to give in to the temptation to bemoan your inability to use your favorite skill to get rich quick. Happy skilling! :)

Did You Know...
... that Falador once had a cat problem? In beta, you could drop your cat from your bank account and spawn as many as you wanted. Talk about lag!

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