Runescape developer Jagex has almost totally walked back the MMO's unpopular new pay-to-win Hero Pass, admitting "we messed up" after protests consumed the community.
This fire has been burning for over a week now, but it really came to a head yesterday, September 7, as review bombs, subscription cancellations, and what we'll charitably call stern feedback from players intensified following middling responses from Jagex. A day later, the studio has now waved the white flag entirely, promising immediate and sweeping changes to the Hero Pass.
"We messed up," an apologetic blog post begins. "The launch of Hero Pass alienated and frustrated many in the community. 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 misjudgment 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."
Jagex says "we need a do-over," and that process starts today. Immediately, a hotfix has disabled the option to purchase levels on the Hero Pass, which previously let players use real money to instantly unlock all the hefty bonuses tied to higher levels. The most controversial of those bonuses, gameplay-altering "Content Buffs," will be removed next week.
Next week, the buffs to XP gains will also be removed from the paywalled premium Hero Pass and shifted into the free pass, letting all players access them. Once this is all done, Jagex vows that "the Premier Pass rewards will therefore only be cosmetics and consumables." Additionally, Hero Pass rewards "will be easier to obtain" overall following a forthcoming rank XP rebalance
Addressing the disruptive changes to the MMO's daily challenges, which accompanied the Hero Pass itself, Jagex goes even further: the previous dailies "will be reinstated in full."
"We are working on this urgently and may take a couple of weeks to go live," the studio says. "Daily challenges will return as a standalone system with its prior rewards. This means players can resume daily challenges without engaging with Hero Pass should they wish."
This whole mess was ignited and (for the time being) stamped out in under two weeks – a welcome win for the beleaguered Runescape community in its ceaseless tug-of-war with the MMO's notoriously aggressive microtransactions.
Meanwhile, sister game Old School Runescape is doing extremely well, and steadily working toward its first-ever community-voted skill, Sailing.