Old School Runescape ends partnership polls early after community backlash

Jagex says it wants partnerships to help bring in new players - but the community thinks this could be a path to pay-to-win

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July 5, 2019 After plenty of backlash, Jagex has ended current Old School Runescape partnership plans early.

Earlier this week, Runescape developer Jagex published a blog post titled “Partnerships and Old School.” In that post, the studio told players that partnerships – like last year’s Twitch Prime deal – “are something we would like to do more of.” The intention is to help bring more new players to the game, but players are concerned that new deals could prove a gateway to microtransactions.

Jagex ran polls on each of the planned partnership options, but those polls have now come to an early close. “You came to vote in your thousands, and the voting so far has sent a clear message – and as such, we’ve made the decision to end the poll early,” the developers say in a new update. “The results were so one-sided that the outcome of the poll could not change.”

The polls were trending about 70% opposed to all of the proposed options. “We are disappointed that the reception to the blog has focused around monetisation in-game – something that is not in any of our plans – although we can understand your trepidation.”

Jagex says it still believes in partnerships as a path for OSRS’s growth, but that “no in-game content for partnerships will be added without a poll.”

Last year’s partnership with Twitch saw Prime members awarded a month of free membership, and the opportunity to change their skin colour to purple. After the event, that purple skin was made available to all players for free – a process which Jagex says it will repeat with any future partnership.

In its original rundown of the partnership plan, Jagex said that “we don’t want any of you worrying that free cosmetics are in any way a step towards introducing microtransactions into Old School” and that “we will not add any MTX to Old School Runescape,” as doing so would “completely contradict the spirit of what has made Old School a success.”

Sadly, that’s not how the community saw the situation. The game’s subreddit quickly filled with responses to the blog post, and many of them are far from complimentary. While Jagex claims that the partnerships won’t be geared around microtransactions, some players seem to think that the proposed approach is simply the first step on a slippery slope to a pay-to-win economy.

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Others say that the proposed partnerships are “microtransactions with extra steps,” allowing players to buy new cosmetic items as long as they pay for a third-party service. Others point to the botting problems that arose in the wake of the Twitch Prime deal, as well as similarities with modern Runescape’s Loyalty Programme.

Related: Old School Runescape is “a good creative beta” for its more modern counterpart

“Collaboration is at the heart of decisions we make,” Jagex says in its latest update, “so we will work directly with players at our HQ in Cambridge and with the broader community so you can advise us on the right way to build partnerships that excite, rather than cause confusion and fear. Everyone at Jagex wants Old School RuneScape to be a game that you play and enjoy for many years to come.”