I'm tired. Insomnia is awful. But some random stranger rang the doorbell despite it being 23:45 at the time, so maybe I'll be awake enough for a sufficiently thoughtful response.
Quick aside: the word bias as it was originally conceived by the Greeks did not originally have such a negative connotation; they thought it integral to a debate. They did, however, along with the Romans, establish the old school trend of presenting two sides to an argument. I get that the Times is Rune Tip's editorial piece, but, heh, speaking of that...
The only article I wish to respond to is "Underhanded Methods Always Fail."
So I was speaking of bias-- here's mine. I'm 36, and I'm a father and husband on disability. Although I've had lots of free time, by the generosity and support of family and friends, I moved with my little family into a house. It needs a lot of work, and I assure you I have many more important things I should do than kill time on a game that's notorious for being a grinding treadmill. Still, it's nice to have something that's a pleasant diversion, not to mention a cheap one. I'm on a fixed income, but right now Runescape is an incredible deal compared to the other known MMOs out there, and is a very small expense compared to my other ones, some of them more needs than wants. It also fits my playing styles very, very well.
I was more disappointed with Jagex making a connection with Facebook. There were many reasons why I left-- brusque, rude behavior being one, and the Zuckerbergs' policies on privacy another. I must say with sardonic amusement that I do remember many adults my age and older playing games I ultimately found were 10X more banal, grinding, and monotonous than Runescape-- not to mention I do remember some of those players plunking down some serious money for extras. That said, I thought the bias of "Underhanded Methods..." seemed like that of someone who is not financially independent yet. (Heh, all right, Duke Freedom, I'll admit it freely to all these people, who may have forgotten you-- I have to tell them you are right about adult players, freely spending extra cash for online games, although I still won't condone RWT.) So I am inclined to think those that are complaining loudest are grade school and college students, not financially independent adults with a steady source of income.
Myself, I've paid membership pretty steady for the most part since 2002 or so. I think there was once that it lapsed, and then another time a friend in Europe very kindly sent me a little bit of money so I could keep membership going. Both times I was close to flat broke. But most of the time, my rate has stayed at 5US$ a month and my continued payment by plastic keeps it right there. I did wonder why Jagex hadn't done more to reward really longtime players, and I wondered this with the cape update as well (I don't think Veteran stretched back far enough). But really, my main reaction was, "Cool, a little something extra for something I'm already doing."
Those that know me know I'm a niche player, finding value in training spots long abandoned or ignored, and that I observe some fairly obscure aspects about the game. The auras will suit me fine; I'll find uses for some. Others have none for me, but I'm not worried. Others might remember my odd sense of humor and my strange obsession of costumes. For a time, I demonstrated that female players seemed to have all the best outfits. That changed with Treasure Trail updates, and these new costumes from the MLP.
I'm also a bit anti-social for reasons of post-traumatic stress. I play with all chat set to 'Friends' most of the time. Besides random fun, the emotes do serve a purpose for me now and then. It also ties back to my strange sense of humor: on rare moments I like to mess with random players I don't know at all. Oddball aura, you'll be mine for that purpose, almost all by itself.
I don't mean to say Jagex isn't doing some cheap marketing; on the contrary, I do agree. I just don't think MLP is the prime example. I remember discussing it with a college/university student friend of mine in-game. She really detested the flagpole that RuneFest attendees received, as well as the Ornate Katana by way of Gamestop's card. Again, I think these are better examples of how Jagex could go down the path of some game developer on Facebook. But strangely, she was not as phased by the MLP, and we shared what rewards we'd got for ourselves. I think that's more the average opinion of most players who have steady memberships, and really, others here have more or less pointed out that those taking membership breaks for school and such are the ones complaining the most.
And I don't mean to say that Times authors aren't entitled to their opinions. I've known stormveritas for a while, but I don't agree with his opinion on minigames at all, even that Jagex is making a trend of them. But I thought the backlash against his article as it stood was immature and quite rude. That also said, I have to also agree that descriptions of faeces does not make a compelling argument to me. Oddly enough, Crocefisso, if Tip.It allowed you to say "this is bull****", I would have gotten your point immediately; because most people I know do not use that term to make sure I am thinking specifically of the stench and odor of fecal material. But I understand the forum and website policies are as they are. I doubt that overall the users would use such language sparingly and only with their truly intended meaning.
In other words, you wouldn't have to be careful with me, but I will say that your euphemisms failed. I've had enough experiences smelling faeces that I think a more direct description of such fails to tell me what you are truly thinking about the update.
p.s. this friend of mine noted that the marketing blitz seemed to come when the Gowers left the board in January. I think Tip.It would have gotten my attention far more if that possibility was considered, despite Andrew's threat of a lawsuit way back when still fresh in my mind (oh yes, ladies and gents, it was over allegations in a Times article, too).