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Tip.It Times - 18th December 2011


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#1
tripsis
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Time for a new release of the: >>>Tip.It Times!<<<

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#2
quitthegame
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replying to sees_all's metric article:

I realize this is just a side point of your article, but I have to point out that your principled stand: "As a customer I'm going to vote with my wallet and I will not be paying for any more subscriptions to RuneScape, at least until JaGEx includes all players in their hiscores.", seems a bit confusing.

From Jagex's point of view, you're going to look like some number of active F2P accounts. This is supposed to send them the message that F2P is unplayable without highscores? They are supposed to know that you, as a happy F2P-only player, would resubscribe if they add back in certain features for F2P? I don't see how they could possibly know that, or how they would be likely to infer that. You seem to be in fact sending the opposite information to Jagex than you're intending to. Obviously if enough people took your stand it would be distinguishable, but I see no reason to think that such occurred.

If we assume that Jagex has some goal, let's say 8 active P2P accounts per every 1 active F2P account past a certain age, and many people take your stand of quitting P2P for F2P with every F2P feature reduction, then one could see a vicious cycle where Jagex keeps taking away features from F2P to attempt to drive those players to P2P, which causes P2P players to start playing F2P in solidarity, and the cycle continues; at least until F2P actually becomes unplayable, or until players manage to communicate that they are taking such a stand by some other means. I must confess I don't think enough players will follow your strategy to bring this possibility to life, however, and Jagex may not have such a goal anyway.

The main point of your article seems perfectly true, although not the first time I'd seen those concepts.

#3
The Observer
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Great work with the articles this week, as always. :)

I think that the major problem with these loyalty rewards is a lot more than what was mentioned. Comparing the game to the past, these type of offers were never even conceived. This previous mindset contrasts what is currently looking like a sinking ship. Now, the ship is obviously not sinked yet, but it certainly seems this way now that the amount of marketing involved is becoming almost too noticable (ah, found words that work a lot nicer!). What I liked about Runescape is that it was different from a lot of other online games. For example, on the main page you weren't bombarded with advertisement after advertisement to buy the premium version of the game, or having advertisements every other month about an exclusive item you can buy. It was just a free game that once people progressed far enough, they can expand their gaming experience further by buying the expansion.

Yeah, the rewards are extra and aren't really game changing, but if someone wanted to buy them, they often compensate for more than a year's worth of membership. Because of this, they really have a monetary value themselves since all that extra membership is, in a sense, useless, unless you stop buying the rewards. Ignoring the fact I wouldn't want to buy them in the first place, this really is one of the main reasons why I wouldn't buy any of the rewards; it's just not convenient enough.

Another issue is the availability of the rewards. The current offer is a lot better because it involves credit card and Paypal transfers, however, what about the other payment methods? They should reach over all payment methods and maybe they'll receive more people willing to buy these items instead. Cards aren't available in all countries, and a lot of younger players can't use credit card or Paypal payments. Yes, they can ask their parents, but there isn't really any harm in opening up the payment methods available. It can only work positively in terms of revenue.

Overall, great article with a unique mindset. I can't say I disagree with you completely because that is a mindset that some players adhere to.

In terms of the other articles, again, great work. I always love reading extra fictional pieces, even when I'm already reading quite a few novels myself. (I've been a bit of a bookworm lately. :P)

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#4
quitthegame
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Comparing the game to the past, these type of offers were never even conceived. This previous mindset contrasts what is currently looking like a sinking ship. Now, the ship is obviously not sinked yet, but it certainly seems this way now that the amount of marketing involved is becoming almost too noticable (ah, found words that work a lot nicer!). What I liked about Runescape is that it was different from a lot of other online games.


I'm with you that it was nice how different RS was from every other game. Now that's no longer true, as RS has joined the crowd and offers all these "free" promotions.

But-- isn't it going a bit far to say RS looks like a sinking ship, for handing out free promotions like nearly every other MMO out there? Are you implying that MMOs themselves will be extinct as a genre soon? That seems unlikely, they are very profitable as a genre.

#5
The Observer
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Comparing the game to the past, these type of offers were never even conceived. This previous mindset contrasts what is currently looking like a sinking ship. Now, the ship is obviously not sinked yet, but it certainly seems this way now that the amount of marketing involved is becoming almost too noticable (ah, found words that work a lot nicer!). What I liked about Runescape is that it was different from a lot of other online games.


I'm with you that it was nice how different RS was from every other game. Now that's no longer true, as RS has joined the crowd and offers all these "free" promotions.

But-- isn't it going a bit far to say RS looks like a sinking ship, for handing out free promotions like nearly every other MMO out there? Are you implying that MMOs themselves will be extinct as a genre soon? That seems unlikely, they are very profitable as a genre.


Any game reaches its peak, and after that it never really reaches that potential again and dies down. To me, the amount of promotions they're doing in terms of the member game looks more like desperation. It might be more or less the attitude of before that says it for me.

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#6
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I didn't expect my article to get published so early. Nice surprise :)

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#7
Jonanananas
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I mostly agree with Stormrage's article, even though you can without problems call RAF RWTing(if used with an account you created yourself). Most of this stuff isn't game changing, and since Jagex apparently has decided they need those promotions, we better save our breath for something that we really don't like(RAF? :P) instead of complaining about each and every one.

However, I can understand those players quite well. It's something that made Jagex special in a way, not having stuff like that. It was something distinguishable, not like every other MMO out there. And with holiday events too - a lot of people are disappointed that what once was simply a nice gesture for the holidays has turned into marketing as well. I am disappinted as well, but I guess I understand the reasons and can live with it even if I don't particularly like it.


Regarding the highscores article: I wouldn't take the numbers there too seriously. It serves as a general indicator of how Runescape is going(If you manage to take the bots out which make up an increasing number of subscriptions again) but I don't think it will be possible to link players quitting to certain updates, unless it's an update that makes a LOT of players quit. There are too many things that obfuscate the numbers, such as players having different amounts of membership time left over when they quit, different payment methods etc. You say they will mostly average themselves out, but I don't think so.



As for the fictionals, as always I'll read them once the whole series is published :)

#8
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The issue isn't so much that they're cheap marketing ploys so much as obvious marketing ploys.

...Okay, I'm splitting hairs. It's a fine article.

#9
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I agree on the loyalty article but would just like to point out that the "gift" analogy in the concluding paragraph was flawed. The "rest of Runescape" is hardly a "gift" if I am paying for it. A gift in essence is free. Also I don't know how old you are but I have always been exposed to the commercialization of Christmas. I am not sure there was ever a true meaning towards the idea of Christmas, and if there was I don't think I will ever find out.

#10
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Any game reaches its peak, and after that it never really reaches that potential again and dies down.


That's true, by definition of "peak". However, it's also true that sometimes people say that a game has reached its peak, and then later something happens and the game becomes even bigger and reaches its actual peak. It's actually a fairly common occurrence. Also, a game could have a "total player peak" (f2p plus p2p), and a "subscriber peak", and a "yearly profit peak" (which could be different than the subscriber peak due to huge profits from...promotions!), and those could all be in different years. Which one is the real peak?


[

To me, the amount of promotions they're doing in terms of the member game looks more like desperation. It might be more or less the attitude of before that says it for me.



I am familiar with a lot of MMO's. They are all, every single one of them, doing way more promotions than before. To me, it looks like MMO promotions are the current trend. I respect that it looks like desperation to you and to many others, but I find it hard to believe that you all would still have that opinion if you'd seen them in as many other MMO's as I have recently. Also, I have a bunch of friends in the gaming industry writing code, so I know why they are going with the differentiated payments model. E.g., my friend worked on a game for the Iphone where people cook recipes and serve them in a restaurant, very simple game. Some premium recipes are available for real cash. 80% of the players play the game for 2 dollars and never buy premium recipes. One lady spent 16,000 US dollars on recipes. 16000 US dollars, on a game whose sum complexity is equal to that of the cooking skill in Runescape. I am not exaggerating any aspect of this story. PS. 2 dollars, apple takes a cut, plus you have to store their data...so each of those customers is probably worth just about nothing to the gaming company. At some point the company is going to realize all of their profits come from the premium recipes, and then the $2 version of the game inevitably gets damaged.

#11
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Any game reaches its peak, and after that it never really reaches that potential again and dies down.


That's true, by definition of "peak". However, it's also true that sometimes people say that a game has reached its peak, and then later something happens and the game becomes even bigger and reaches its actual peak. It's actually a fairly common occurrence. Also, a game could have a "total player peak" (f2p plus p2p), and a "subscriber peak", and a "yearly profit peak" (which could be different than the subscriber peak due to huge profits from...promotions!), and those could all be in different years. Which one is the real peak?


The real peak would be the actual peak of the game where it will never be as popular as it was at that moment in time (could be a particular quarter, whatever). It's not really possible to accurately depict when a peak is until the life cycle of the game has already ended because it's theoretically possible for it to increase at any time.

[

To me, the amount of promotions they're doing in terms of the member game looks more like desperation. It might be more or less the attitude of before that says it for me.



I am familiar with a lot of MMO's. They are all, every single one of them, doing way more promotions than before. To me, it looks like MMO promotions are the current trend. I respect that it looks like desperation to you and to many others, but I find it hard to believe that you all would still have that opinion if you'd seen them in as many other MMO's as I have recently. Also, I have a bunch of friends in the gaming industry writing code, so I know why they are going with the differentiated payments model. E.g., my friend worked on a game for the Iphone where people cook recipes and serve them in a restaurant, very simple game. Some premium recipes are available for real cash. 80% of the players play the game for 2 dollars and never buy premium recipes. One lady spent 16,000 US dollars on recipes. 16000 US dollars, on a game whose sum complexity is equal to that of the cooking skill in Runescape. I am not exaggerating any aspect of this story. PS. 2 dollars, apple takes a cut, plus you have to store their data...so each of those customers is probably worth just about nothing to the gaming company. At some point the company is going to realize all of their profits come from the premium recipes, and then the $2 version of the game inevitably gets damaged.


Eh, now that I think about it, a lot of gaming companies are as well. If you look at games such as MW3 which isn't even an MMORPG, it now sells double XP for buying Doritos and Mountain Dew. Obviously it's not a dying franchise, but you can get the idea that investors are trying to milk more out of the customers than ever before. Could be the economy? I don't know.

Runescape isn't limitless and there will come a time when content won't be "new or extravagant" anymore. In terms of loyalty rewards, I'm sure Jagex was aware of the number of players they had that were actually "real" rather than bots. This is shown by how they started releasing this new loyalty/promotional content months before the bot nuke.

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#12
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In regards to Storms article, I think there is a valid argument for fairness that goes beyond people being motivated by envy or anger (or both). If you disregard discrepancies in membership fees based on method, location, and time (some people on credit cards are still using the old subscription rate because they never lapsed, such as myself), then you have a situation where all the members are paying the same membership fee, and are not recieveing equal potential benefits in return. I would consider the chrome goggles the exception since that was open to all members at not cost and minimal effort.

I mean, I totally get why they are doing it, and I also understand that promotional items tend not to work as well when everyone gets the item. And I can live with that. The problem with a promotional offer though, and this applies to just about any promotional offer run by any company be it Jagex, your phone company, or your bank, etc. is that by doing a favour for your new client, you are making it seem like they are more important than your existing clients, that your...taking your existing clientele for granted. There is always a hint of a message saying 'we don't need to do anything extra for you, because your already giving us money'.

Any time you elevate one group above the rest, such as by doing them a 'favour', you are automatically putting down everyone else, whether that is your intention or not.

I could care less about the promotional items (though I wouldn't mind the green skin). I'm not going to lose any sleep over not having them. But I am getting a little tired of being sent the message that I mean less to Jagex because of how I choose to pay for their game.


As for the total 180 we have been seeing in terms of marketing policy, my guess is that RuneScape is really starting to feel the heat of competition. RuneScape enjoyed next to no competition until WoW came along, but I feel like its grown beyond that now. There are a lot of games out there, and RuneScape is fighting to attract new users. And they have to fight, because everyone else is doing it. If they don't, they risk the game stagnating. The game only works as long as new users keep coming in, to balance out the rest of the player base.

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#13
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replying to sees_all's metric article:

I realize this is just a side point of your article, but I have to point out that your principled stand: "As a customer I'm going to vote with my wallet and I will not be paying for any more subscriptions to RuneScape, at least until JaGEx includes all players in their hiscores.", seems a bit confusing.

From Jagex's point of view, you're going to look like some number of active F2P accounts. This is supposed to send them the message that F2P is unplayable without highscores? They are supposed to know that you, as a happy F2P-only player, would resubscribe if they add back in certain features for F2P? I don't see how they could possibly know that, or how they would be likely to infer that. You seem to be in fact sending the opposite information to Jagex than you're intending to. Obviously if enough people took your stand it would be distinguishable, but I see no reason to think that such occurred.

If we assume that Jagex has some goal, let's say 8 active P2P accounts per every 1 active F2P account past a certain age, and many people take your stand of quitting P2P for F2P with every F2P feature reduction, then one could see a vicious cycle where Jagex keeps taking away features from F2P to attempt to drive those players to P2P, which causes P2P players to start playing F2P in solidarity, and the cycle continues; at least until F2P actually becomes unplayable, or until players manage to communicate that they are taking such a stand by some other means. I must confess I don't think enough players will follow your strategy to bring this possibility to life, however, and Jagex may not have such a goal anyway.

The main point of your article seems perfectly true, although not the first time I'd seen those concepts.

I have a P2P account, I won't resubscribe on it. It'll go idle. Also, as it stands, I've been playing RuneScape less and less on my free account.

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#14
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I'd like to point out that the "golden" scythe was only given to 25 people, was a complete surprise, and was probably not thought out much further than that.

I think they've also given up on the free game.

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#15
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@I have discovered that I have written a lot. For the sake of our eyes: Key points are bolded. Blanked ones are supportive arguments.

These days, with such an economy, money making is difficult, people are more conscious and money spending is more deeply-thought

@ Storm's Article: I would say, while envy certainly drives us to protest against those promotional schemes, I would rather suggest a sharp change of attitude towards promotion that causes such an echo. In particular, Jagex had previously stated that the promotion of p2p will be limited; that RWT is not tolerated (leading linkage of promotion benefits to RWT); that F2P will receive more attention. In view of the recent events, it seems that these promises are broken one by one.

In 2007 we see Gnomecopters, a cheap (and uber fail way in my opinion) way to promote P2P. Jagex later removed it, regretting such a promotion approach. Likewise, agility shortcuts are no longer seen in F2P. Yet, these few months see an increase in promotion of membership, such as those free XP bonuses for membership referral.

Later, Jagex added in-game items like ornate katana for subscribing using membership cards, or joining Runefest etc., triggering a discussion on RWT (defined by Jagex as exchange of in-game benefits using real life money). Although those items did not make any difference in skilling, questing, etc. , the fact that it can be shown off may be seen as a "benefit", and therefore, Jagex broke one of her principles and people reacted in awe towards such change of attitude.

We must agree that F2P has received some updates during these few years, the most prominent example is undoubtedly the Dungeoneering skill. Yet, the artificial cap of 90 combat for 50% XP cut introduced later amidst protests of F2P players has nevertheless showed that the voice of F2P is widely neglected at best (while P2P deserve to train faster, a progressive XP cut, more difficult dungeons for high level players (plus more items for P2P to tackle them) will do the job). This sentiment of F2P is further cultivated by years of neglect (say, pledge for more spells in F2P, which at the end, F2P did got wind rush also!)

Such a sharply changing attitude has already brewed player discontent for long. When F2P hiscore is removed (which has been serving F2P for 10 years), no wonder, F2P exploded.

I am eloborating on the consequences of ignorance and turning a blind eye to F2P. And this matches the theme of Seer's article - namely, the shrinkage of F2P player base.

@Seer: Yes, we are seeing problems with the demographics. Several years ago, F2P players are larger in number compared to P2P players (excluding bots). I cannot give any solid figures but that has been my impression when looking at server list: F2P servers are more full, and perhaps F2P got more servers than P2P exclusive servers. A lack of F2P players (especially those high level and experienced ones) will inevitably reduce the guidence that fresh F2P players receive, leading to bad impression in the eyes' of a new Runescape player. Fewer of them decide to stay in Runescape, and evolve into P2P players. In short, P2P will follow the fate of F2P. Jagex knows they are falling out of favor. But they use a wrong method to boost Runescape's popularity. Ads? They might help, but at the end, word of mouth counts. How often you make a purchase decision based on ads alone? How about friends recommendations?

Some people will try to argue that P2P can exist as an individual game, even without F2P. But Runescape has many features that are not explicitly presented at the first glance. We need to keep a fresh player playing in order to let them experience the goodies. On the paper, Runescape sucks. Steep learning curve (imagine you are a newbie, and you want to train magic, meanwhile, you realise you need runes. But soon, you find that runes are expensive, but there is a way to make it yourself. You then plow through your quest list and find "Rune mysteries". Here it is finally, you mutter, and only by doing the quest you unlock this skill), poor graphics, poor music (compare to Skyrim!), tons of grinding. Nevertheless, what can turn the table into Runescape favor? Deep storyline, a good community (hopefully), sense of achievement. And the latter three are not seen immediately by a new players. And thus, and good community, especially F2P community, is needed.


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#16
quitthegame
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that RWT is not tolerated[/b] (leading linkage of promotion benefits to RWT);


This is a misleading argument, Jagex has multiple times pointed out that paying for membership is exchanging RL cash for ingame benefits, and so by your definition below going P2P is already RWT. Obviously then, we see that we must be careful to avoid equivocation with our definitions of RWT.

I agree with most of what you say in regards to F2P "neglect", except for the crucial conclusive statement which is where you make the link that F2P neglect will be bad for P2P as well.


A lack of F2P players[/b] (especially those high level and experienced ones) will inevitably reduce the guidence that fresh F2P players receive, leading to bad impression in the eyes' of a new Runescape player. Fewer of them decide to stay in Runescape, and evolve into P2P players.


A skeptic might say that F2P players' guidance will not be "hey new friend, go play P2P without me, but ima stay here in F2P to tell more new friends to go play in P2P without me". The skeptic might argue that high-level F2P players instead pressure people to stay F2P, and in fact this phenomenon might be what motivated Jagex's recent attack on high-level F2P players. Until we can get some hard data, all we have are our two hypotheses, but Jagex's actions tend to support them having data supporting my version. I must say, my brief sojourns in F2P worlds tend to reinforce this impression in my mind.

#17
deskjethp
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The article on the game metric is interesting. I think it will be interesting to see what happens with controversial nonsense in the future. (Interesting how it's just sort of known that something will happen in the future that will annoy enough people to make this a feasible 'tool'.

Items article: I think what a lot of people think is that these items shouldn't be around at all, not that everybody should have them. The everybody should have them thing seems like it would be more of a sub-thought to the they-shouldn't-engaging-in-this-nonsense thought.

#18
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I thought the article by Ts_Stormrage was interesting, he highlighted the move that many companies have taken in providing membership incentives for new customers. I agree that it is pointless to feel envy as it is such a common marketing tactic. For example if you consider mobile (cell) phone companies offering extra minutes or extra features to new customers, but old customers don't get those 'benefits'. The word benefits is used loosely here as it is down to perception, again this is reiterated by Ts_Stormrage. Fair and balanced article in my opinion.

The article by sees_all1, did nothing for me, I felt the argument about using highscores to determine the player activity and financial success of Jagex was very weak. I thought the personal stance on refusing to pay for membership unless highscores for F2P are reinstated was cringeworthy in a tipit article. What I struggle in understanding is why anyone is particularly interested in Jagex's financial situation? If people are still playing and the game continues why does it matter to someone, unless they are buying shares in the company? Do other players do this constant negative, financial analysis of 'Blizzard', 'Zynga' or 'Activision'?
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#19
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Do other players do this constant negative, financial analysis of 'Blizzard', 'Zynga' or 'Activision'?


Yes, negative and positive both, neverendingly. Although Blizzard and Activision are the same company.

#20
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I think Jagex is just giving more incentives for people to turn p2p or buy more membership. To tell the truth i cancelled my credit card subscription to get the ice mask, it makes no difference to to me in a monetary sense(comes to about a 14% saving). Jagex know that they have to do more now to keep up with the people saying that "Jagex is trying to bleeds us of money" the obvious answer to that is if it doesn't concern you(credit card subsricption or something) then theres no problem.
Well done to Ts_stormrage another decent article under your belt.

I was going to write an article but then i took an arrow to the knee.




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