The first article was fairly interesting, but it jumps to some conclusions that may not be true. Obviously, sitting on a board for Jagex is not a full-time job -- the places on a board of a company that one of the venture capital groups buys a share in are held by various VPs the venture group. Because the groups tend to have large portfolios and a small number of VPs, each one of them will sit on a bunch of different boards of directors, perhaps drawing a salary from them. But none of them have any interaction with the actual company, so the decisions they make are far removed from anything us players see in terms of content.
My personal belief is that Jagex was bought not so much for RuneScape, but for future development (and patents it holds). These investors are banking heavily on the success of Transformers, 8Realms and any other games Jagex produces. What this means is that the long-term strategic goals for RuneScape are not about growth, but about slowly increasing revenue per customer to the maximal point. This isn't quite the same as liquidation, but it looks to me like they are not interested in the long-term growth of RuneScape as a game or as a product. I'm no expert on venture capital firms, but the direction of RuneScape, as written by the board of directors, might be to increase overall revenue from RuneScape by 20% this year. They've responded to that by increasing subscription prices, creating gimmicks for membership, and most recently by creating another revenue stream within the game (Squeal of Fortune spins). I seriously doubt that the board sat down and demanded that the developers add a roulette wheel that you pay to spin, but it happened as a result of their demands for higher profit. This is alienating plenty of players, but from a revenue standpoint, it works well. (Note that this is only the plan for RuneScape: for other games, they'll be focused on long-term growth.)
I know you guys at Tip.It are tired of the annoying "RuneScape is dying" traffic graphs et al., but the game is not as popular as it used to be: subscriptions are declining according to the high-scores (ignoring trial members), and the game is no longer in a growth phase. Fewer new users are signing up, which means it's a perfect time to increase prices and marketing. That's what we're seeing here, and it seems to be working.
That being said, it's quite a leap to claim that Goldman Sachs is "betting for Jagex to fail", or that Goldman even has a stake in Jagex. Robert Rubin probably sits on twenty other boards: a quick BusinessWeek search turns up a long list. Goldman and Citigroup themselves seem to be unaffiliated with Insight Venture -- I can't find any records that they own a stake in the group, and the only connection seems to be that its own
board of directors includes some business titans from top finance companies like GS and Citigroup. The direct connection between Insight Venture and Jagex's updates -- tenuous at best -- looks downright silly when you try to claim that Wall Street behemoths and the federal government are involved in them.
If there's anyone to "blame" for this big mess, it's the Gower brothers. While Andrew, Paul and Ian aren't businessmen, they were surely aware of what would happen when they sold off their stake in Jagex to those various groups. When Jagex was self-owned, the main priority seemed to be the welfare of the game. But investors put money first and foremost, so it's no surprise that things are turning out this way. All of these petitions, people going to Insight's New York headquarters (a really stupid move, by the way), are useless. Even though the player base is firmly against
this most recent update (and I'm sure a lot of the developers are too), it doesn't matter. The people making the decisions want to make money.