Publisher Jagex is stepping on its feet and seeking to destroy "real-world trading," or RWT, in the long-running RuneScape MMO.
Trading virtual currencies for real money can be a problem for many online games, upsetting the game’s internal finances, unbalanced player experiences, or turning games into for-profit scenarios. In RuneScape, the exchange of digital “gold” has been a particular problem that has led bots to mining resources and even accusations that the opportunity to buy in-game “bonds” for real money means ********.
Now Jagex has outlined plans to solve the problem. In a new blog post for the RuneScape team, the publisher stated that "gold purchased through RWT is a problem in any online game with a convertible currency," and that while "the anti-scam team has done a lot to fix" vendors inside and outside RWT, "take stronger action with immediate effect.
Referring to the “growing team and improved tools,” Jagex says it targets not only gold and resource sellers through RWT but also buyers. The aim is to stop supply and demand. Jagex says it will send "messages to players we've identified as participating in the RWT" within a few hours. “We want to be clear to all participants - that’s your only warning,” he added.
Other actions that the developer sees as punishment for RWT activity include asset forfeiture - mainly the removal of poorly earned profits from player accounts at the server level - and possible bans. RuneScape’s PvP element, called Duel Arena, follows stricter rules. Jagex says the feature “has been a flashpoint for this toxic behavior” and that 38 percent of all RWT bans so far come from this side of the game. He says it's already "thousands of bans a month."
As a result, the developer seems to be making a core choice, saying, "We're looking, in the long run, to get Duel Arena completely out of RuneScape." Until then, it will take "some short-term steps to" clean up PvP "so that our development teams can deliver a major upgrade that will completely replace Duel Arena next year."
This includes the maximum number of RS GP or gold points that players can bet on a match at the Duel Arena. Players can bet "up to 50 million GPs per duel". Other measures have not yet been specified. Jagex says that “a whole new experience that will be part of the ongoing Elder God Wars story” will replace Duel Arena in early 2022, but more details have not yet been provided.
While the impact of these changes remains unclear, it appears to be one of the strongest studios to have taken to combat the external misuse of their systems to make real money. If successful, similar actions can be seen in MMO mode in the future.