RSBANDBUpdate! 888 - The 40%

posted by Shane on 24 June 2022 at 16:30 | Discuss on our Forums

The Zamorak demons invade bringing unknown slivers, re-rolls, and lore. We revisit mobile with the shocking realization that one in five players play exclusively on mobile. And, Jagex is working on a RuneScape survival game, what should we expect?

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Hosts: Shane, Tanis, and Pyrnassius
Duration: 1:46:34

RuneScape launches its first Pride event featuring stories from Gielinor’s NPCs. Then we dive into last week's live stream featuring revelations on mobile, skill reworks, and switchscape. Finally, how much hype is too much?

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Join us in-game at Friends’ Chat: BitsBytes, Follow us on Twitter @rsbandb, Join our Discord: rsbandb.com/discord
A Special Thanks to Our Patreon Supporters

  • Andrew C
  • aroundz
  • Arvīds L
  • Big Huge Rat
  • Briflex
  • Cgb 900
  • Christian S
  • Chunkthemunk
  • Diana
  • Dominic F
  • DramaFreee
  • Durhamax
  • ElloMatey
  • Flaws_of_Man
  • Free Milk
  • Jade Gizmo
  • Jason S
  • Jebus
  • Jesse W
  • Ling_01
  • LuckyDucky
  • Mohan V
  • N8 the grr8
  • Nick g
  • OTRGamer
  • Paddythearchitect
  • Pyrnassius RS
  • Ren Hawk
  • Ricky A
  • Samuel F L
  • Sceotan
  • Scott D S
  • Seth W
  • Stobbeve
  • Tabby
  • The Naked Captain
  • Tom V
  • Zant
  • Zazacon

Hosts: Shane, Tanis, and Zant
Duration: 1:47:40

The fate of the gods is revealed as we plough through our newest quest: Twilight of the Gods. It’s a classic quest featuring demons, worldwide adventures, and a puzzle that keeps us guessing. Is this our twilight?

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Direct Download – 64 Kbit MP3 (Full Show Notes)

Join us in-game at Friends’ Chat: BitsBytes, Follow us on Twitter @rsbandb, Join our Discord: rsbandb.com/discord
A Special Thanks to Our Patreon Supporters

  • Andrew C
  • aroundz
  • Arvīds L
  • Big Huge Rat
  • Briflex
  • Cgb 900
  • Christian S
  • Chunkthemunk
  • Diana
  • Dominic F
  • DramaFreee
  • Durhamax
  • ElloMatey
  • Flaws_of_Man
  • Free Milk
  • Jade Gizmo
  • Jason S
  • Jebus
  • Jesse W
  • Ling_01
  • LuckyDucky
  • Mohan V
  • N8 the grr8
  • Nick g
  • OTRGamer
  • Paddythearchitect
  • Pyrnassius RS
  • Ren Hawk
  • Ricky A
  • Samuel F L
  • Sceotan
  • Scott D S
  • Seth W
  • Stobbeve
  • Tabby
  • The Naked Captain
  • Tom V
  • Zant

Hosts: Shane, Tanis, Earth, and Questcaping
Duration: 2:20:45

Accounting for Revenue

posted by Cireon on 5 June 2022 at 01:01 | Discuss on our Forums

When Jagex announced they would be launching their own launcher (no pun intended), including support for multiple accounts, hopes immediately went up. Somehow, the belief that multiple characters per account would be supported made its way into the world. Soon after, this was debunked on stream. Still, we knew from the get-go that Jagex wasn't going to support multiple characters per account, at least not without making you pay extra for it.

To understand this, we need to look at monetization for videogames more generally. For decades, publishers sold games for a fixed price. Perhaps there would be one or more DLC released afterwards, but that would be it. Unless you're The Sims, then it would be dozens of DLC: even back then EA was squeezing every single penny out of its audience. Over time, virtual distribution of games become more commonplace. No longer did releasing a DLC come with the overhead of creating physical disk images and distributing those.

At the same time, prices of AAA games kept rising, until eventually hitting the important $60 mark. While we are starting to see more breaks with the trend, games more expensive than $60 were very rare for a long time. It is one of these magical numbers where we perceive any number bigger than that as way more expensive. So releasing a game for $70 would actively harm sales.

DLC proved to game publishers that different people are willing to spend different amounts of money on a single game. When EA released DLC after DLC for The Sims, they were onto something. Not only are some players willing to spend more money, some people have almost no limit in how much money they spend on a game. The industry calls these people "whales". As the miniaturization of DLC continued to the point of micro-transactions, a new golden rule developed: always be creating spending opportunities.

The relation to RuneScape is clear. In the world where spending opportunities are the key to success, subscription-based games suffer a large disadvantage: either you have access to the game, or you don't. Before RuneScape introduced micro-transactions, even if you wanted to spend more on the game, there isn't really a good thing to spend it on. Multiple characters have limited value, because the replay value of RuneScape is limited, but it was the only way Jagex could ever see more than a single subscription fee per month from a single person.

When Old School came out, having people pay a separate subscription for both was an option that was on the table. Within the context sketched above, you can see why. Jagex must have realised that the overlap of people who play both would be limited, and having players be able to jump ship to the other RuneScape when they get bored of their current RuneScape must've been too big of an advantage to split up the subscriptions.

Fastforward to today, we have Treasure Hunter, Solomon's Store, and RuneMetrics bringing in auxiliary revenue streams besides subscription fees. At the same time, many of the players who play actively often have at least one alt (an ironman for example). Paying for membership of an alt through bonds is not uncommon, but every bond is still paid for in real money at some point up the chain, so it makes little difference to Jagex's bottom line. With subscriptions still being a significant portion of the overall revenue, all the revenue in case of Old School RuneScape, cutting that revenue in roughly half makes no sense from a business perspective. Making players' second character free would do exactly that.

The world of monetization is complicated, and it is not unlikely that at least some of the lost revenue would be made up by increased sales elsewhere as people's budgets clear up. However, the history of monetization in videogames has shown that budgets are either non-existent - in case of the whales - or that budgets are less important than perceived value in purchasing decisions.

We have seen many studios release their own launchers in the past few years, often to the detriment of the user experience. Yet, even if we aren't getting multiple characters per account on RuneScape, I believe the Jagex Launcher will be a step forward. Account management for RuneScape has been a thorn in the side for anybody playing more than one character, and third party tools wrapping the RuneScape client are more popular than ever. Jagex can bring some of those benefits to their own launcher, providing a better experience for everyone without sacrificing account security. Most importantly though, there will be no change to the account structure, because risking a major revenue stream is a much bigger decision, and likely one that would have a negative outcome.


The Problem With Slayer

posted by Shane on 2 June 2022 at 15:18 | Discuss on our Forums

Slayer launched January 26, 2005; it was the first skill to launch after RuneScape 2 brought us Runecrafting. Prior to the Slayer skill, most of RuneScape’s player base frequented a limited pool of monsters for combat training. The biggest of these included Giants (now Hill Giants), Fire Giants, and Shadow Warriors, just to name a few. Slayer set out to fix this problem and bring exciting new gear into the game.

For the earliest parts of its history, Slayer accomplished its goals. Mystic armour, the Granite Maul, the Abyssal Whip and later the Dark Bow were highly coveted Slayer weapons. The Abyssal Whip sold for millions (20m+) and took years to come down to below the 1 million gp mark. This drive combined with the diversity of Slayer tasks made Slayer work and kept players distributed.

Fast forward to 2022 and Slayer is largely the same as it was on release 17 years ago. Slayer now goes to 120, it has a collection log for each Slayer monster, and you can play as a Pokémon master and catch all the souls while filling out your Slayer codex. The skill is mature, full, and is how combat should be trained. But at its heart, it’s the same skill from 2005.

The Slayer core loop (the repetitive source of play for a game or game mechanic) is as follows: get a task and then kill Slayer creatures. This is a simple loop that is a core bedrock that any MMORPG player will know as the fetch quest, and this is the major problem. For a game that has skills and content with more interesting core loops (Archaeology, Farming, and many hybrids), this lacks severely.

Slayer has the in-built progression system of Slayer points and various upgrades that can be purchased, but at its core the skill remains the same. Much like alchemy nets gold and fish can be sold on the Grand Exchange, Slayer’s currency is Slayer points. It’s a core feature that doesn’t make the core loop more interesting, it only provides a reward at the end of the day.

Rewards used to be enough when looking at items like the Abyssal Whip or Dark Bow or a myriad of herbs. But today someone can take the introductory steps to PvM and move through the first two God Wars Dungeons into the Elder God Wars Dungeon and get all the rewards they could want through PvM with more interesting mechanics. It’s for this reason that I latched on to PvM easier than I ever latched on to Slayer.

The knee jerk reaction to this is that Slayer should go the way of mini-bosses like Wyverns, Ripper Demons, Mammoths, and Camels. Or perhaps in the template of the Senntisten Asylum released earlier this year that saw Slayer release a tier 92 weapon, a modern whip. The logical endpoint of this is that Slayer is not lucrative enough but if you ask anyone who does Slayer, they’ll show you that tasks are indeed lucrative.

It’s important to highlight that Slayer can be lucrative because the first reaction to changing Slayer from feeling “boring” or left behind might be to buff its loot. This would not fix the core problem, because a good drop table does not make a piece of content good! The problem is just that after 17 years the skill is the same as it was on day one requiring the player to kill X amount of certain creatures.

Archaeology, Invention, Divination, Dungeoneering, Hunter, Summoning, Construction, and Farming all have their niches in terms of what they provide to the game. They also all have multiple methods in which they can be trained. From day 1 until today, Slayer just requires the player to kill, kill, kill.

When RuneScape offers the opportunity to kill with Slayer compared to the rich core gameplay of any other skill, the age of the Slayer skill starts to appear. RuneScape has evolved from the point and click combat game which is still very viable with Legacy Mode or even in Old School. But with the advent of the Evolution of Combat, rich skills, and a PvM ecosystem; it’s hard to see what Slayer offers in 2022 aside from a laid back way of making money.

Parts of the game like Slayer that haven't largely changed in decades will not be attractive to either longtime players who might be bored with the old style of the skill, or new players who may not choose RuneScape over other newer games like Dark Souls or Elden Ring that have innovated different and more challenging ways of killing or defeating monsters.

This may present a microcosm of the state of play in RuneScape currently, where the new management has to balance between appeasing current players who may look for more endgame content, and new players, who will be attracted by unique and innovative updates. These two types of updates may be different and may not accomplish both goals at the same time, but one thing is clear and that is that updating the venerable Slayer skill presents an opportunity to reconcile the type of update that both new and existing players will enjoy.