Jagex has come under fire this year for its microtransaction practices in RuneScape, even to the point of getting called out for them by the British government. Last week, we reported on an interview that laid out some details regarding not only the developer’s content plans for 2020 but a little bit regarding its monetization practices going forward.
Also last week, several of the developers talked about those plans on a livestream that’s since been uploaded to YouTube and embedded below. If you don’t want to watch the whole hour-long talk, there’s a handy summary on Reddit. The core issue is the “Duty of Care” that Jagex is trying to emphasize and make a reality for its players, split into three main parts: freedom of choice, a safe environment, and satisfying engagement.
Freedom of choice revolves around the player’s ability to make healthy decisions regarding play time and money spent. Jagex plans to reach out to players who have spent an excessive amount of money. This will be implemented in a “trial of an automated system before Christmas.”
A safe environment encapsulates many of the less-savory community aspects of online gaming that we’re all aware of — toxicity, harassment, threats, and so on — as well as combatting gold-sellers and player-run games of chance.
Finally, satisfying engagement means making sure that rewards are in line with expectations, and that includes the “aim to take RNG almost completely away” from loot boxes. Treasure Hunt probabilities will be “visibly open,” with all rewards being by choice. Jagex stated that it wants to be “clear about the mechanics of certain promotions.”
It should be noted that the recent statements by the government are only a recommendation, not a legal requirement. However, even this level of public scrutiny seems to be having an effect and forcing Jagex to rethink how it does business. It would be nice if the company had done this totally on its own, rather than to avoid bad publicity, but we’ll take what we can get.