A new venture by Jagex, the creators of the fantasy MMORPG Runescape, allows players to freely donate their gold and in return, for every one-million gold donated, the company will donate $1 to charity. A sensational idea, especially given the fact that Runescape has an economy worse off than the outer regions of Zimbabwe, but my recollection of players of old is that they were all money-farming introverts, just like myself.
Well, I was wrong. Players have already donated over one-hundred and fifty billion gold, and there’s more on the way.
I remember investing hours upon hours trying to get rich in Runescape, my first venture into the fantasy MMORPG genre, and getting nowhere. Not from a lack of trying, mind you, but simply because the rate of return on so many things was minimal, and the time required was absurd. I’ve always jokingly thought that the best way to instill a work-ethic into someone at a young age is to hand them a members account and send them off to farm mining to 99. In the half decade it would be likely to take them they would learn a great amount about sacrifice, not to mention where every conceivable coal vein in the game was located.
My effort was not always in vain – I made a fair amount of money and was comfortably rich enough to do what I wanted to do. Players who had been playing for years before me, however, would scoff at the money I had – and it is those players that are throwing their money into the Well of Goodwill and making Jagex fork out, currently, over $150,000 to charities such as GamesAid and Action For Kids, as well as many others.
The economy of Runescape has always been a headache, and Jagex have always been inventing new money-sinks and methods to kill off gold-hoarding and gold-farming. In late September they introduced the new method of converting in-game gold into playtime as an incentive for richer players to spend their virtual currency over their real world currency. These bonds seem to have worked out well, but the altruistic nature of players so far takes the cake.
A leaderboard exists on the website to check out who the biggest philanthropists are too – the biggest giver so far is ‘Rowley’ with a staggering 5.2 billion coins donated.
The CEO of Jagex, Mark Gerhard, has already discussed the company’s success this year in removing bot accounts which exist only to farm gold. Thus far, 3.7 trillion gold has been removed from circulation after being farmed by these bot accounts, and there is more still to go. If things keep going like this, Jagex could be spending hundreds of thousands out of their own pockets to help curb this problem, albeit in the name of good causes. A sizable sum of money – but also a potential solution to a two-pronged problem of sniping gold-sellers and shifting Runescape out of a monopolistic economy that has stood fast for several years.