1.) Virtual goods are the PLAYER's property. Not Jagex's IP.
2.) Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods.
3.) Since the items won are NOT TRADABLE, they don't have intrinsic value.
SOF is not gambling. But I still hate it.
You and I agree on the main point, but I have to nitpick. 1.
Just because your American lawyer friend brought up a legal principle irrelevant to U.K. contract law (and even if it weren't, probably still would lack basis in fact) doesn't mean you can chant the mantra as if it's gospel. It's not
true, no case has been ever
been brought against Jagex concerning this, and it's unlikely that any
party will possess the resources to bring such a case to Jagex concerning virtual property, let alone a legal basis to rest on.
I think you'll agree with Point # 2.2.
Jagex employs technically-correct language to maintain the veneer of legitimacy when it's clear there are less than savory intentions behind those updates. Jagex knows that players value certain items more than others. They capitalize on that interest by introducing options to raise those hopes whilst funneling the incoming flood of revenue. They purposely place low value and high value items together so the player thinks he has a shot (no matter how small) at winning the jackpot. This way, players have greater incentive to purchase spins to get closer to winning that shiny, glowing bauble...! But when the technique is questioned, Jagex can step back and say it isn't gambling because X or Y.
In this case, Jagex claims it's not because you don't risk anything when you spin. That's true. That doesn't stop them from employing incentives for players to foolishly waste their money, though. It's a pseudo-gambling device designed directly for this purpose. I'm not accusing them of breaking any gambling laws. It's far from that. I'm more concerned about the sleazy marketing tactics and the possible violation of consumer protection laws.
Yes, the items do have intrinsic value. Value is not determined by price alone. A Godsword won from SOF is just as useful as one obtained from trade. If it had no intrinsic value, players would not purchase more spins for a chance to a win a Godsword. This is just the sort of technical, side-stepping language Jagex deploys to justify its updates.