Last year, Jagex introduced a new subscription option for gold-rich Runscape players. Like EVE Online’s PLEX system, Runescape players could purchase bonds from Jagex using in-game currency. £3/$5 would net a player a 14-day subscription to the game. But those bonds could also be sold on to other players.
In some cases, bonds have been traded for real-world benefits. Two players for the US have even been able to fund a trip to London for the RuneFest fan convention on October 11th, including flights, hotels, convention tickets and spending money for the actual event.
Given that the price of a single ticket to RuneFest is £100, and that’s probably the cheapest part of the trip, that’s mighty impressive.
“I cannot describe the relief and realisation that our dream of coming to the UK and to RuneFest is going to happen. Without being able to buy the flight, hotel, and crystal coins with Bonds, this was never going to be realistic for us because it would be too expensive,” said Aaron James, one of the shrewd bond traders. “We’re just tremendously excited, and looking forward to meeting the J-Mods and some of our fellow RuneScape players next month.”
According to Jagex, 2.3 million bonds have been purchased since they were introduced a year ago, with over 80 percent of them being redeemed for game time. That’s 27.6 million hours of membership funded by bonds.
One of the goals Jagex had when introducing bonds was to reduce gold farming. The developer claims that it “plummeted” by 81 percent a matter of weeks after bonds started to be sold.
“Our community responded fantastically to the introduction of Bonds a year ago, which resulted in many millions of Bonds being purchased and redeemed. A year later, nearly 20% of RuneScape players pay for their membership subscription through their in-game efforts and half of the premium RuneCoin currency comes from bond redemptions”, said Phil Mansell, vice president of RuneScape. “This has also helped bring greater stability to the game economy, and has reduced incidents of gold farming and botting to an all-time low.”