What is Membership Really?

posted by Cireon on 16 July 2018 at 01:47 | Discuss on our Forums

The monthly RuneScape membership has been around since 2002. For most people, the distinction between free players and members has been part of the game since the dawn of time. For the longest time, being a member was the only way to support the game, and it gave you access to all the game’s features.

But everything changed, almost exactly ten years after the introduction of membership, when Yelps made his way into the game with the Squeal of Fortune. While being a RuneScape member gave you an extra spin per day, even those paying for a subscription now had a piece of content that was time-gated, which could be circumvented by buying spins with more real-life money.

In the same year, Jagex introduced Solomon’s General Store. Again members were confronted with not having direct access to new content: the new aesthetic overrides cost RuneCoins, where previously members got their cool-looking stuff through gameplay or the loyalty program.

At the end of the same year, RuneScape first introduced the premier club. A special version of three, six, and twelve month memberships that gave additional spins and RuneCoins. It was presented as an all-in-one package, and it seemed to take over the position of membership of the highest tier subscription.

Since then, the premier club has stopped to include RuneCoins, and new types of subscriptions have been included: RuneMetrics Pro and temporary events, including the latest RunePass. These changes cause controversy across the community. A lot of this is probably still rooted in the idea that membership is the full access package of RuneScape. From that perspective, it seems that Jagex has slowly chipped off features from membership and brought them under in other types of subscriptions, meanwhile increasing the monthly price of the original subscription service.

Even though it may be difficult, it is worth considering what “membership” actually means. The word itself doesn’t mean much, which in itself may be in need of a good PR pass. Membership is in fact a content pass for all member’s content, which is very regularly updated and added to. Membership also has some advantages feeding into the other subscription models: an extra Treasure Hunter key a day and a 10% discount on Solomon’s General Store. They are significant, but not the main attraction.

Looking back in the past, membership has always just given access to the full content package, yet it always seems to be advertised as more. With the introduction of alternate monetization methods, that just no longer really true. This is the most likely cause of the community’s response.

The gold premier membership was introduced as a tier on top of that. It started with some advantages across different monetization models, but it seems to now mostly be a slightly shinier version of membership. Jagex has admitted that they should consider including RunePass in the premier memberships, so it may be that we will see a return to a premier membership that is more of an all-round coverage.

Of course we all want to pay as little as possible and get access to as much as possible. This is what we got with membership, but it is no longer what we get. There is a good reason for Jagex to not go with this one all-or-nothing subscription. Among game developers that depend on in-app purchases for profit, it is reasonably common knowledge that the majority of the revenue comes from a small core of players. The exact numbers vary by research and platform, but a good ballpark number is that 10% of the players spend 90% worth of the revenue [1][2].

If you’re a big fan of RuneScape, you’re willing to spend some money on it. However, once you get membership, there used to not be a way to spend more money. Premier club, Treasure Hunter, Solomon’s General Store, they were all introduced to cater to the group of players who are willing to spend more on the game, while allowing the wider player base to stick to a relatively cheap membership (RuneScape membership is still cheaper than the membership of many other online games). This is why I like Solomon’s General Store so much: it allows players that spend more on the game to subsidize the game for other players in a way that does not break the game, since it’s primarily visual overrides.

The reason I am writing this article because I believe it is important to understand the context when entering the discussion on microtransactions and monetization. The different monetization models have been designed in such a way that people can spend nearly a limitless amount of money on the game if they so desire. If we want the game’s main core of content to remain affordable, we need to accept that other monetization methods are required. While these “whales” (the actual technical term for big spenders) subsidize the game, we can enjoy the majority of the game at a reasonable price.

This is not to say we shouldn’t keep Jagex honest. There being alternative money-spending methods while we are already expected to pay a monthly price is a bit sour, and RuneScape is quite unique in that respect. Most games having similar monetization methods have either just an entry price, or are free entirely. This is a balance that has traditionally appeared to be hard to solve. Rethinking what a premier membership means is a good first step, and there is also a lot of PR Jagex could improve to explain the context that I have explained in this post. However, we, as a community, should always assume Jagex’s best intentions for the game, and hopefully this post goes some way in facilitating a constructive discussion.


A rundown of account security and how to use authenticator without a phone. An update on RS mobile, summer weekends are on the way, and a bug to end all bugs on Old School RuneScape. Finally, a neutrino that left long ago from a galaxy far far away.

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Give Jagex a Pass

posted by tanishalfelf on 13 July 2018 at 02:10 | Discuss on our Forums

Jagex launched an experimental promotion this week called RunePass. Needless to say, it hasn't gone well. RunePass has been called everything from a cash grab to the beginning of the end of RuneScape. Unfortunately, this narrative has been driven home by posts on Reddit and YouTube videos. In fact, some players in the community ran to grab their pitchforks with one hand while threatening to cancel their subscription with the other before Jagex even had a chance to put a statement out. In typical Jagex tradition, the launch of this promotion was failed both in its timing and its explanation. This resulted in the fumbled PR response and ultimately trotting Mod Osbourne out to do a live stream that looked more like a hostage video. Nothing can set the community off quite like micro-transactions can, and it's easy to see from statements that were taken out of context why some players have a real problem with RunePass. This month let's all have a tall glass of settle down as we take a look at what RunePass is and what Jagex says they want to accomplish with it.

RunePass is a progression achievement focused promotion. That means you have to work through certain achievements to progress through the pass and get rewards. There is a free pass and a gold pass that gives better rewards including a legendary pet. The gold pass costs 400 rune coins and can be purchased from Solomon's General Store. The RunePass is similar to the currency collecting or bingo card events we've seen over and over the last few years. At first glance, it doesn't seem any different than any other promotion Jagex has thrown out there so why is this one getting such a different response from part of the RS community?

The biggest and most credible criticism of RunePass is that Premiere Club members should have received the gold tier for free. This is 100% true and I agree with this sentiment. Why then did Jagex choose to not do this? The answer boils down to it being an experiment. In an effort to minimize variables as much as possible Jagex chose not to give it to Premier Club members so they could accurately see how the promotion was being engaged in. This was a mistake, but it wasn't a mistake that was made in order to get every last dollar out of your wallet. Limiting variables is an important step in any experiment but Jagex in this situation should have either controlled for that data or just thrown out Premier Club participation altogether. Unfortunately not doing this gave some of the vocal minority a foothold on bashing Jagex's nearsightedness.

The next major criticism is that Jagex included a paid path but there is no way to receive the same rewards without paying. It is true that lately, Jagex has been including a way to obtain promotional rewards without paying. The currency and bingo card events are good examples of that. A player can buy treasure hunter keys and have a chance to receive an item that speeds the whole process up. The fact that a cosmetic item is only obtainable from purchasing Rune Coins is not new. In fact, players have repeatably said they are fine with cosmetic MTX. The problem this time is players thought that Jagex had moved into a direction where the items could also be obtained through gameplay. In these players eyes, this is the worst case scenario because you not only have to pay but you also need to put in gameplay to get the items. When it comes to a skilling outfit then, of course, it should have an avenue to obtain it through gameplay, however, we aren't talking about skilling outfits here. In fact, cosmetic items are the best way to make something like RunePass work. The way someone is dressed affects no one else's game. FashionScape is a very real thing and players take a lot of pride in how their character looks. This is where Jagex can make some additional revenue and not cause too much commotion. Games like Fortnite and Overwatch have been doing this for some time and been very successful at it. Oh, and did I mention bonds can be bought with RuneScape gold and redeemed for Rune Coins? So uh, ya...

Lastly, there is the argument that Jagex just raised membership. This is true but the two things are completely unrelated. RunePass is an experiment and Jagex probably never thought about the optics of releasing RunePass so soon after a rise in membership cost. Once again the folly comes by not realizing that some players would consider this a cash grab. The most damaging criticism of all wasn't Jagex's fault at all. In their live stream where they were responding to RunePass a J-mod who was unfamiliar with the issue had stated do you want smoldering lamp promos or RunePass? This was then transcribed and there was no context for the statement. Many players took it as Jagex saying you are getting one or the other rather you like it or not. This actually wasn't what the J-mod was saying at all. He was talking about it being an experiment and which kind of promotion players preferred according to their engagement, however that statement added gas to the already raging fire. Finally, there are some players that just hate MTX of any kind no matter the circumstance. All I can say about these players is at least you are consistent and while I don't agree with that position I can respect it. Those are the major criticisms, but what is Jagex saying in response?

Jagex has repeatedly said that RunePass is an experiment and we may never see it again. They also have expressed that RunePass could replace treasure hunter promotions, Dailyscape, and currency/bingo events. The critics either tuned out by this time or just ignored this part because it doesn't fit their narrative. This is the most important statement Jagex has put out about the whole issue. The players can help develop this in a way they are most comfortable with and is most beneficial to all parties. Jagex has acknowledged that they would include Premier Club if RunePass was to move forward. They have also said they should have provided more information about RunePass before its launch. Those are wins for the players and we can achieve more wins if we provide the kind of feedback that can be constructive instead of flaming.

What we should be pressing Jagex to do is make RunePass's free track more lucrative. Make the paid pass cosmetic only. Make the pass replace Dailyscape and Treasure Hunter for the entirety of the pass's duration. Premiere Club gold members should get the new passes and the old gold passes for free and silver premiere club should get all the current gold passes while bronze could pick a certain number of the gold passes. There are many ways to improve RunePass if we can be constructive. My fear is that now RunePass will be considered a failure and we will be stuck with treasure hunter for the foreseeable future because of a knee-jerk reaction by some in the community.

I want players to remember that Jagex has been working hard to give us updates that we want. By all accounts, they have been doing pretty good this year. As a community, we can't jump all over them when they make a mistake, especially one as small as this. At the end of the day as players you want Jagex to make money and be a successful company. The alternative is not having RuneScape. If Jagex can find additional revenue through things have no detrimental outcomes for the game then we need to suck it up and give Jagex a pass. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.


An overview of RunePass, Jagex’s response to the community, how long it will be around for, and how a change in messaging could have altered opinion on RunePass. Then a run through of Elite Dungeon 2 rewards and the progress being made on RS mobile.

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[Informer] The Temple of Informer

posted by Shane on 2 July 2018 at 00:16

This past month on Informer we had a full docket of RuneScape themed articles with some intruding dinosaurs. The debate over third party tools in RuneScape probably goes back to the Jurassic age and it continues today. In The Ongoing Crusade Against Third Party Tools I talk about whether or not third party tools should be clamped down upon. Next up Alex Analyzes the Hall of Memories, a new Divination training method. The Hall of Memories provides the ability to train Divination for a decent xp per hour rate while sacrificing profit. Where does it fit in? Alex has that answer. David continues his exploration of combat with you, the reader, talking about accuracy, affinity and what is truly known as Aurascape. This explains partially why combat is so powerful at tier 90+. Lastly this month Jagex released the Temple of Aminishi. The Temple of Aminishi gives a further use to the Arc and is RuneScape's first Elite Dungeon. Elite Dungeons are effectively raids from World of Warcraft, except limited down to 3 people. In Reinventing Raids, Cireon talks about how the first raid, Liberation of Mazcab, was troubled since day one and how the Temple of Aminishi will attempt to fix this. Our non-RuneScape article goes back to the Jurassic age with Jurassic World Evolution. Tanis wrote about how to re-live that love of dinosaurs from your childhood and what this simulation can bring forward for you.

This past month in our Crafting we saw a runaway by Sorensen57 who gained 8,940,392 experience! Well done, here's your trophy:

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Moving into July, RSBANDBUpdate! will publish its first Monthly Byte to Patreon subscribers. But that's probably not what you're most excited about... Also this month we will start recording a video version of the podcast with our shining faces!

See you soon.