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RuneScape rolls back controversial pay-to-win Hero Pass in new update

"We messed up".

RuneScape emblem - a red shield-shaped gem with the letter R engraved on it, surrounded with a gilden frame
Image credit: Jagex

RuneScape developer Jagex is removing controversial pay-to-win aspects of its recently launched Hero Pass following an outcry from the game's community.

At the start of the week, the Hero Pass was added to the MMORPG, which Jagex previously described as an "always-on reward system". However, the reaction from players was overwhelmingly negative, in particular for pay-to-win options like purchasing Underworld Emblems or levels in the Hero Pass. This is in addition to other changes around content buffs and the Daily Challenge system.

Jagex yesterday released an update promising change. However the severity of player feedback meant the developer has now swiftly released another update, admitting: "We messed up".

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"The launch of Hero Pass alienated and frustrated many in the community," the update reads. "You've told us, amongst other things, that it was too pay-to-win and you'd lost important aspects of Daily Challenges.

"We made a significant misjudgement and we are sorry. We need to reflect on that and learn from it. That also means we need to take more time to listen and work with the community. How and why that happened is for another time, what's most important right now is what we're doing about it.

"We need a do-over. So, we will urgently patch the game to back-out the controversial features you've told us are your main pain-points. This then will give us the time to digest your feedback in detail and engage in a community consultation to drive a thorough redesign and re-development of Hero Pass."

As such, Jagex is making a number of urgent changes to the game.

First up, purchasing Hero Pass levels and Underworld Emblems has been removed immediately, while Hero Pass content buffs will be removed entirely next week.

Another fix next week will be moving XP buffs out of the Premier rewards track, to be available for everyone through gameplay only. As such, the paid Premier Pass will only be cosmetics and consumables.

Further, the Daily Challenge system will be reinstated in the next couple of weeks and Hero Pass rewards will be rebalanced to be easier to obtain.

"Hopefully these urgent changes demonstrate that we're listening and taking action," reads the update. "We hope this will rebuild some of the trust we know has been damaged in the last week."

The update's FAQ adds that players unhappy with purchasing the Premier Pass can contact customer support for a refund.

The introduction of the Hero Pass resulted in many unsubscriptions, as well as review bombing by frustrated players on Steam.

The response from players on reddit to this new update is broadly positive, with players pleased the developer has taken on criticism. As one reply put it: "Holy shit they actually fucking listened", which seems to be the general sentiment from the community.

Jagex has vowed to work with the community for further changes, though admits this may take time. "For the long-term changes, we intend to not rush, to allow for a re-think of the design, and have the space to work closely and iterate the design in consultation with the community," it said in the latest update.

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