Nope. Not an April Fools joke. Jagex has now made it possible to buy additional "spins" on the Squeal of Fortune for real life money. A little feature that very few people liked in the first place, largely because it didn't fit in the game AT ALL, just transformed the game beyond recognition.
Just About the Gambling EXperience
Spinning that wheel, even without the option to buy extra spins, could, in some countries, already be considered a form of gambling. But not in the ivory building that towers over Cambridge. Since you always win something (and that something cannot leave RuneScape), there is not a gamble -or risk of loss- involved, and therefore it cannot be considered gambling, or so does Jagex reason.
But I, and most of you, beg to differ. Spending $0.50 for an empty Bucket, a Bronze Arrow, or some Tin Ore constitutes a loss whichever way you want to look at it (or do those items now belong to the players?). Granted, you can win some awesome prizes, but those who win something from the rarer bits are few and far between (750 spins without anything above uncommon is not uncommon). I dare any of you to bring me proof of someone winning something from the super-duper-ultra rare bracket with purchased spins. I'll not even go in the discrepancy between the visual representation and the actual odds of winning a rare item, but know that even a with roulette wheel or a lottery you made are aware of the odds in advance.
One of the key things you can win from the common and uncommon bracket are the XP lamps. After 75 spins you'll end up, on average, with most of your inventory filled with small and medium lamps. This is good for a hefty chunk of XP which requires little time and effort to get it.
To give you an idea, here's an extreme example using the RuneCrafting skill. Why RuneCrafting? Because that skill took the biggest hit in the Effigy nerf, and sees far more Penguin Points and the like than any other skill used on it. So when you learn that someone with an average level can earn more XP/hr than SIX maxed people at ZMI, you know something is not balanced.
So it looks suspiciously like you can now buy your way up the highscores. We have a name for that: Real-World Trading.
Jagex has repeatedly claimed that "micro-transactions aren't for RuneScape", an article that was promoted very recently on Jagex's Jobs Facebook page even reiterated that. But faster than you can say "Cheque please!" the article was edited, and any links from Jagex's side were removed just a few days before the release of buyable spins.
But why speculate? Just read RuneScape's old and new version of RWT rules and you'll soon realise that Jagex changed the definition to avoid breaking its own rules. When prompted, Mod Mat K couldn't have said it better. I've seen what happens when those who are supposed to lead by example abandon their principles; I won't predict where it starts, but it will end with a revolution.
So is this gambling? RWT? Both? Concerning the legal aspect of gambling, it depends on where you live. But let's look at this logically; IF you consider that Bucket a win, the answer is no on the gambling front, but by that very same token it becomes RWT. Since you seem somehow assured of at least a few lamps to further you along, but are unsure of how far they'll get you, I'm going to conclude that it is both.
But let's put the hypocrisy of eliminating virtually every form of competition (RWT-ers, Bots, Goldfarmers), to only set up shop yourself aside for now (that's capitalism, alright).
I'm not a huge fan of grinding and, to make my point, I'll stick with the RuneCrafting example. There's a good reason it is my 2nd lowest and least favourite skill. I hate almost every minute that there are some Pure Essence in my inventory, yet I can completely understand the Effigy nerf.
Runecrafting was not meant to be trained largely with Effigies and Penguin Points, but neither should it be trained with these lamps from the Squeal of Fortune. If Runecrafting, or any other skill for that matter, is to be improved, make some updates to the skill itself.
So Jagex called training with Effigies "against the spirit of the game" as a valid reason to nerf them, and I fully agree with that statement, but the Squeal of Fortune is much much further removed. I have yet to find an explanation as to what some random smug little green Imp is doing on my screen every day. I never met it in-game before, didn't do a quest to earn those daily spins, nothing. At least you earned those Effigies by actively hunting for them.
All good spins...
But no. From the looks of it, they are here to stay. And every idiot out there buying those additional spins only legitimizes Jagex's claim that it is indeed a good update.
A good update? No, it gets better. With every single product I buy online with a Credit Card, I get at least something of a confirmation message before I can go through with the transaction. But not here. At best you get a receipt that ends up in your junk folder because the email comes from a different address.
Speaking of which, I can't help but think of the advertisement of those additional spins as junk mail as well. Tell me if this sounds familiar: "You may have already won 10 million coins! All you have to do is pay $19.99 and you get 40 chances plus 35 BONUS chances at the Squeal of Fortune!" If I really want something useless and expensive that spins, I'll go out to buy myself some rims.
Also, did Jagex mention that your Credit Card details are saved for convenience? Not just the name of the cardholder and the expiration date, but even the security code! Hackers, minors that, in some countries, are now in violation of gambling laws, and everyone else can buy additional spins without having to re-enter all the necessary details.. But they didn't tell us this!
Tip.It, your oldest, most loyal fansite - classed as Platinum - has taken it upon itself to warn people of this danger. But I wonder how many have fallen victim to this trap, still.
I am beyond disappointed, especially since there is precedent of this. Several games started selling similar products and that resulted in those games being SOLELY played by people who advance themselves this way. I thought you were different, Jagex, as a decade long fight to keep this game as fair as can be earns you something of a reputation. But this is apparently the way you want to go.
This update has butchered Jagex's reputation and utterly mutilated the spirit of the game, if there were still any such things left.