There's dissent among the RuneScape ranks because of a Veteran Cape.
RuneScape maker Jagex asked both free and paying players to vote on a design for it, and touted the garment as a reward for "players whose accounts are more than five years old".
But when released earlier this week, the Veteran Cape was only given to paying RuneScape members. Cue outcry among veteran free-to-play RuneScapers, and forum threads swelling over 100 pages.
Eurogamer confronted RuneScape vice president Daniel Clough for an explanation.
"RuneScape has a huge community of both free-to-play users and members that we treat as one group wherever possible. This is especially the case with our player polls, which are regularly used to give the community a say in the development of future content.
"Whatever the questions we ask, we allow everyone in the community to vote – the Veteran Cape poll was no different. This allows the entire community to shape the game regardless of their status, even if the subsequent content isn't eligible to them because of their skill level, experience or membership status," said Clough.
"Our community has never been backwards in coming forwards and we love them for it. We are open to their feedback and we often seek their views on what we do and the updates we make.
"As with all updates," he added, "it is impossible to please everyone and naturally it is a shame to hear when elements of our community are upset with decisions we have made."
Clough explained that capes, whether unlocked through high skill or achievements, have "traditionally" been gifts for members - the sort of "special benefits" subscribers "have to have". He found it "regretful" that free RuneScapers felt misled about the Veteran Cape.
"With hindsight it is obvious to say that we could have made it clearer in order to avoid any possibility of misinterpretation," offered Clough. "We treated the Veteran Cape update like any other members-only update that we release by naming the avatar's requirements. In this case, it is the time that this avatar existed, in other cases this is a skill requirement or finished quests that is required on top of the membership status of the avatar.
"As soon as it became apparent that some players were upset or felt that they were misled, our community support team answered the players' questions on the forums and Mod_Mark, RuneScape's Lead Designer, also responded to players. "
Going forwards, Clough said Jagex "will try to be clearer" about what will be given to free players, and what will be given to paying members.
For now, could Jagex score a PR victory and appease the mob by offering the Veteran Cape to all players, free and paying?
"Jagex is not about scoring PR victories; Jagex is about making great content," Clough told us. "Members have to get benefits for their subscriptions – we can't make everything free for everyone.
"That said, we are hugely proud of our free-to-play game. RuneScape offers millions of players one of the largest free-to-play MMORPGs, without ever asking them to subscribe. We give free players thousands of hours of content and it is a testament to the game that we have loyal players who have played the game for five years without ever paying us a penny. "
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