It would be difficult for any player to argue that Jagex has not filled the game of Runescape up with ample content. The amount of things to do is almost endless, with monsters, bosses, quests, skills, minigames, achievement diaries, distractions and diversions, and a huge amount of player to player interaction. Inevitably, some content hits a higher level of favour across the community, and some components of the game are left falling by the wayside.
At the forefront of popularity are the quests Jagex rolls out. Long considered the “core” or “main story” of the Gielinor experience, quests have been inextricably linked to the real background your character develops, and the personality he or she carries around. Jagex promotes this popularity with the oft-desired quest cape; an item that they promise will become more and more exclusive over time, as the challenge to acquire this becomes ever more daunting.
Many can argue that perhaps the least popular activities catered towards the masses are minigames. Some are hugely popular and see enormous buy in from players, such as Stealing Creation at its advent, or the original roll-out of Pest Control. Involvement is also closely tied to rewards. With many possible methods to accumulate masses of gold and experience, a minigame need offer high yield to draw crowds. Those who argue this may have some exceptions, but there is certainly evidence to support the thought. Don’t expect to see the games room under Burthope or the Gnomeball course packed any time soon.
Recently, Jagex has begun using the pull of high-demand elements to push less popular content upon players, forcing them to at least try the minigame before completing the quest. We saw this long ago with the Easy Fremmenik Achievement Diary, which requires viewing the Barbarian Assault. Tutorial. Additionally, we noticed that summoning “seconds” also required players to collect items available only through unpopular minigames such as Temple Trekking.
Now, with the huge popularity of the Grandmaster Quests, it should come as no surprise that Jagex is using top-tier quests to promote minigames which are otherwise disregarded by the masses. In Nomad’s Requiem, players were forced to try out Soul Wars, a horrific minigame, visited largely by those who wished to abuse bugs to harvest heaping experience, and pure characters who wanted fast experience without the annoyance of killing monsters or watching a screen. This was perhaps the most glaring and egregious abuse of Jagex’s promotional power. This Grandmaster Quest was written with a half-hearted, hollow script which served as a thinly-veiled attempt to force people to try some underused content, while creating a boss which tested the limits of players’ collective patience.
This week, with the inception of “The Void Stares Back”, we see the culmination of an entire quest storyline designed around the Pest Control minigame. Conquest, which went out recently with all the popularity of a fart in a space-suit, was the new target; the otherwise rock-solid quest was interrupted with a break to force players to work through an absurd situation that led to a simulated match of the minigame’s basic rules and operations. This element was far less annoying, but still felt extremely forced and way out of place.
These force-fed elements of the game give an objective player reflux, as our intelligence is insulted with these poorly fabricated ploys to drive activity in underused areas of the game. That being said, it does seem a small stroke of genius to steer players towards content some folks (though I can’t imagine who) will end up turning back to and enjoying.
The exposure these games have gotten has been huge, and it should come as no surprise when Jagex invariably uses this method to keep pushing players to poorly-received minigames. Don’t be surprised when future quests include other unpopular games, such as the Rogue’s Den, Mage Training Arena, or (gasp!) Burthope Games Room.
Don’t say you weren’t warned!