Want to keep your word? Don't give it.
You'd almost miss it between the dozens of uninteresting advertisements, announcements and round-ups, but MMG, in a matter of speaking, finally came out of the closet about Micro Transactions.
The short of it is that the Squeal of Fortune (SoF) and Solomon's General Store (SGS) are something of a necessary evil. Funds are needed for projects such as making RuneScape available on HTML5 which allows for it to be used on tablets, smart TV’s and phones, and other platforms, so these schemes were dreamt up.
The long of it is that for the very first time, we might have seen a definitive position being taken by the CEO of Jagex himself. A line in the sand if you will.
Mark talks about how micro-transactions are often attempts to keep a game funded when normal revenue isn't enough anymore. That usually these are signs of short-term profits being favoured over the long term health and integrity of the game.
"I want to say, categorically, that we will not go down this road. In reality — and quite in contrast to this speculation — the introduction of micro-payments to RuneScape has a significant role in ensuring that we can continue to support, develop and grow the game for many more years to come."
He goes on saying that things could've easily gone a few steps further by directly selling XP, GP or even whole accounts as those would bring in a lot more money. So let me be the first to congratulate Jagex with their new ‘You-haven't-made-it-as-bad-as-you-could-have Award’. Those awards can get you re-elected as President, you know.
But the Squeal, which is selling XP and GP indirectly and at monstrous rates at that, already crossed a previous line:
"We feel your status in real-life shouldn’t affect your ability to be successful in Runescape."
So who's to say that they won't cross their new line in the sand again? Mark Gerhard can be replaced, just as he replaced Geoff Iddison. Back then, Gnomecopter Tours was an example of new policies that included advertising membership more in the free parts of the game, something that was felt to be "out of place," to put it mildly.
On top of that, the continuous weekly updates to the Squeal suggest that they want to push that thing to the limit. Whether it's free alchs, massive amounts of cash, or rare items, it can all be interpreted as a guise to sell GP legally.
It seems so long ago that there was outrage over the Flagstaff of Festivities, something you got when you bought a RuneFest ticket in 2010, because it too was seen as RWT at the time. We laugh at that now.
It was last year, with the introduction of things such as the Loyalty Programme, Refer a Friend, and membership card gimmicks, that RWT unofficially started. Nobody complains about that anymore.
When we first could buy a number of extra spins for the first time, the maximum was only 75. We're now at 450 a day.
And Solomon's General Store first sold only animations, costumes and titles. Some really cool animations, costumes and titles, I'll grant you that, but now it sells bank space as well.
Dear Mark. Your blurb on Micro-Payments did enlighten us on why the decision was taken to start selling the above mentioned stuff and you elaborated more on this with Daniel on the Livestream concerning this subject, but I fear it is too little and too late. While you may have restored the faith of quite a lot of people, many more see the pattern and have a pretty good idea where RuneScape is heading.
So far you guys at Jagex have been creeping up on the line you've drawn yourself. You've gotten away with selling GP and XP by randomizing it, and have probably doubled your revenue stream as a result of that. However, the continuous updates to the SoF and SGS suggest that it's not nearly enough.
When prompted during the Livestream on what we can expect in the future from these Micro Payment features, you said that the SGS and SoF are sufficient enough systems to make available what you need, making any other similar features unnecessary. You said that you're looking into cutting down on the advertising spam both in-game as well as on the newsfeed in order to make it less annoying, and that we'll never see the best items exclusively available with dollars, pounds and euros — promises.
All I can tell you is this; you’re dealing with a crowd of hundreds of thousands, and a good chunk of them as well as some of your employees will hold you to your promise. If you do take that extra step, if an XP item, a bag of GP, or even an untradeable non-cosmetic item is ever for sale directly, through whatever means, a new record for subscription cancellations will probably be set.
The sad thing is that, with every subscription cancelled, some bean counter will feel they're missing out and must therefore make up for the missed revenue. And guess how that's going to play out.