Microtransactions

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Not to be confused with Real-world trading.
"MTX" redirects here. For the glitch item, see Mtx pet.

Microtransactions (abbreviated as MTX) are a form of monetisation model where players can purchase virtual goods in a game. In RuneScape, this refers to anything that you can purchase with real-world currency that is not a membership subscription. Players can not spend more than £1,000 a week or £5,000 a month on microtransactions in RuneScape.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

2012: The introduction of Squeal of Fortune and Solomon's Store[edit | edit source]

The interface for Squeal of Fortune

The first implementation of microtransactions in RuneScape came in the form of purchasable "spins" for the Squeal of Fortune on 2 April 2012, just over a month after it was released. It provided players daily "spins" on a wheel to receive a magnitude of prizes, including experience lamps and coins.

Jagex added the ability to purchase spins with real-world currency, with transactions being performed through the RuneScape website. They could be bought in bulk - ranging from 10 spins at $4.99 USD to 200 spins at $99.99 USD. There was significant controversy with Squeal of Fortune when the ability to purchase spins was introduced, causing players to accuse Jagex of breaking their own rules on real-world trading, which they previously introduced with the reasoning:

We want RuneScape to be a game where everyone has the same chance regardless of their wealth in real-life.
— Jagex, Real World Trading Rule Added

Just three months later, on 17 July, Jagex introduced the Solomon's General Store to the game, along with the currency it utilised, RuneCoins. Solomon's Store was significantly more cosmetic-focused than the Squeal of Fortune, but players that wanted to buy from the store had to either earn RuneCoins through playing the Squeal of Fortune or purchasing them with real-world currency. There was less controversy behind the introduction of the store than there was for the Squeal of Fortune, though some were concerned about the increasing number of microtransactions being added to the game.

2013: The introduction of Bonds[edit | edit source]

Bond detail.png

On 25 September 2013, Jagex introduced bonds to RuneScape as a way to pay for account benefits such as membership using in-game currency. Bonds can be traded on the Grand Exchange, but are initially obtained by players who had purchased them using real-world currency.

The introduction of bonds received a spout of controversy, with players accusing Jagex of destructing the integrity of the game because of the fact that what bonds achieve are an "official" form of real-world trading.

Bonds were conceived as a way to cripple gold farmers, whose illicit real world trading was damaging the game economy and disrupting gameplay.
Mod Pips, Update:Bonds – One Week In

2014: The introduction of Treasure Hunter[edit | edit source]

The Treasure Hunter interface

On 4 February 2014, Treasure Hunter was added to RuneScape as a replacement to the Squeal of Fortune. In a similar fashion to its predecessor, it allowed players to have a random chance at gaining an assortment of items. Spins were replaced with keys, and remained purchasable with real-world currency. There was no shortage of complaints about the activity, which began to ramp up promotions and become more experience and skilling focused in terms of rewards.

A month later, the wealth evaluator was added to RuneScape, allowing players to gain an insight into the wealth that they have in-game. The evaluator requires RuneCoins to purchase.

2016-2018: RuneMetrics and Statement on Monetisation[edit | edit source]

RuneMetrics icon.png

On 22 February 2016, Jagex introduced RuneMetrics, allowing players to see stats about their gameplay, including their experience rates per hour and their gold earned per hour. To access in-depth statistics about their gameplay, players must purchase a subscription to RuneMetrics Pro which is not included in their normal membership subscription, requiring RuneCoins.

On 29 March, Jagex announced changes to the Solomon's Store which meant that some items would only become purchasable using RuneCoins. The most notable items affected by this change were in-game services, rather than cosmetics, such as bank boosters, additional action bars, and keepsake keys.

In-game events started utilising RuneCoins more, allowing players to get rewards quicker or complete the events quicker by using them. These notably include the seasonal events such as Summer Beach Party and Spring Fayre. In November, time-limited events were introduced to the game, along with event daily limit extenders costing between 60 and 195 RuneCoins. In later TLEs, players could purchase event currency directly using RuneCoins.

In 2017, Treasure Hunter came under significant fire for the increase in promotions - most notably the Prize Pool promotion. The promotion allowed players to risk losing prizes that they have won on Treasure Hunter to gain a chance at getting better ones. A significant number of players heavily criticised the gambling aspect of the promotion and called for Jagex to remove it.

Despite acknowledging the issues with the Prize Pool promotion, promotions continued heavily for the next few days until Jagex finally released a statement on monetisation on 23 October.

While MTX in RuneScape is essential to maintaining our development teams and the content they produce, we believe it can be refined (and the harsher edges smoothed out) without significant dents to income. Rest assured, we certainly won't be pushing it any harder.
Mod Balance[2]

In the statement, Jagex said that the promotion would never return, and less promotions occurred on Treasure Hunter (including the temporary removal of 2nd Chance Tuesday) for the remainder of the year.

2018: RunePass[edit | edit source]

The interface for tasks in RunePass

On 2 July 2018, Jagex released a new event called RunePass which was inspired by games using a similar model such as Fortnite. It featured two prize tracks - a free track and a paid track - and a number of rewards for progressing through the tiers within the tracks. Only four items in total could be obtained by players on the free track, while those who purchased the paid track for 400 RuneCoins received prizes in every tier.

RunePass received some criticism from players who expressed their dislike at the growing number of monetisation models in RuneScape, and the fact that the pass is inspired by free-to-play games, while RuneScape is a subscription-based game.

(...)this is a test to see if we can pull back from other things like TH [Treasure Hunter].
Mod Osborne[3]

2019: UK Parliament inquiry[edit | edit source]

On 26 March 2019, it was announced that a portable version of Vic the trader would be made available for purchase from 23 April until 26 May. By redeeming one bond, players could summon the portable trader one time for a period of one hour.

We've wanted to do more things with bonds for a while now. Last year we spent a lot of time talking to players about the monetisation in the game particularly off the back of some of the things that happened with Treasure Hunter. We wanted to explore alternatives and we tried various experiments, but this year we want to have a focus on things that players are comfortable with - service level use for bonds. If they're successful, we will introduce them as permanent options. We've become very dependent on Treasure Hunter and players have had concerns about that and we want to deal with it. This is one of the first steps we're taking.
— Jagex[4]

On 2 April, Jagex gave oral evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, one of the select committees of the UK Parliament, on their investigation into "immersive and addictive technologies". During the session, they revealed that on average players spend "no more than £45 a year" on microtransactions, and that there is a spending cap of £1,000 a week or £5,000 a month.[1]

A few months later, on 27 August, it was announced that Balthazar's Big Raffle would be returning to the game. This time, players can pay Balthazar one bond to receive all of the raffle tickets that they missed by not logging in, and to have the tickets that they may miss in future held onto for later retrieval.

In other games[edit | edit source]

While Jagex has said on a number of occasions that they would not introduce microtransactions to Old School RuneScape,[5] bonds do exist in the game which function the same as their RuneScape counterpart. On 1 July 2019, a news post was released which reiterated the stance that microtransactions would not come to Old School RuneScape, but that Jagex would be looking to explore further partnerships (besides existing partnerships with Twitch) to provide early access to cosmetics in the game.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b Oral evidence: Immersive and Addictive Technologies, HC 1846. 2 April 2019. (Archived from the original on 6 April 2019.)
  2. ^ Mod Balance. RuneScape Monetisation. 23 October 2017. (Archived from the original on 23 October 2017.)
  3. ^ JagexOsborne. Osborne literally just said "we are going to communicate more" for the millionth time. OMEGALUL. 3 July 2018. (Archived from the original on 3 July 2018.)
  4. ^ imsuity. TL;DW 427 - Big Questions Q&A. 26 March 2019. (Archived from the original on 27 August 2019.)
  5. ^ Jagex. Old School RuneScape's Twitter account. 18 July 2018. (Archived from the original on 4 July 2019.)
  6. ^ Jagex. "Partnerships and Old School." 1 July 2019. RuneScape News.