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Jagex removes "pay-to-win" mechanics of Runescape's new season pass

It's (not) hero time.

Justin Carter

September 11, 2023

1 Min Read
Screenshot of a player in Jagex's Runescape, walking through town.

Following the recent launch of Runescape's Hero Pass, developer Jagex said it'll be removing the most controversial aspects of the feature. In its newest blog, the Runescape team acknowledged the Hero Pass was "too pay-to-win," and will "urgently patch the game" to roll back the pass' worst elements. 

Speaking candidly, Jagex acknowledged the Hero Pass' launch "alienated and frustrated many in the community. [...] We made a significant misjudgment and we are sorry."

The Hero Pass is basically the MMO's version of a season pass found in other games, and launched at the start of September to a largely negative reception. Beyond the aforementioned pay-to-win aspects, it came under fire for leading to changes within Runescape's earlier Daily Challenge system.

Creating a season pass often comes with stumbles, especially if it's being introduced years after said title's release. If nothing else, Jagex's quick response and outline of changes shows what studios can learn if they want to introduce a season pass into their game, regardless of its age.

Removed elements include turning off the purchase of Hero Pass levels, its accompanying content or XP buffs. Additionally, in-game rewards for the Premier Pass will now only consist of cosmetics and consumables.

After the Hero Pass is fully neutered, Jagex said it will "engage in a community consultation to drive a thorough re-design and re-development of Hero Pass." It added that it can't just remove the pass entirely, in part because it's faster to patch out "specific problematic mechanics rather than remove a whole interlinked game system."

Regarding the future iteration of the Hero Pass, Jagex said it plans to take time in improving it with consultation from Runescape's player base. "We hope this will rebuild some of the trust we know has been damaged in the last week.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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