RuneScape fans chalk up 'a small victory for the players' as developer chucks new and hated battle pass in the trash

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(Image credit: Jagex)

RuneScape has announced that it's ditching its new battle pass system barely a month after it debuted, calling it "not reflective of a direction we're taking RuneScape in" following widespread player uproar.

The battle pass—called a Hero Pass in RuneScape terminology—arrived on September 4, promising players a gamut of buffs, cosmetics, and special missions. It was immediately despised by the game's wider community, so much so that RuneScape developer Jagex had to walk huge swathes of it back only four days after launch, announcing that it would patch out some of the system's most loathed pay-to-win elements in advance of "a longer period of community consultation and re-development".

That consultation took the form of a survey sent out to players, and the results are in: The Hero Pass isn't long for this world. On October 6, two days before the survey was due to actually reach its conclusion, Jagex decided it had seen enough. "We will not be releasing another Hero Pass after [the first and current one] Underworld ends on December 3rd," the company wrote in an update to players. "We have done this to recognise questions it raised that do not reflect our direction for the game."

Jagex identified three key areas of complaint from the results of its survey: The disparity between paid and free players when it came to the Hero Pass' myriad reward buffs, which many players lambasted as "pay-to-win"; the fact that players felt obliged to engage with it; and that it just doesn't feel "RuneScapey," which I have to imagine is more fatal than it sounds for a game that's been around since 2001, with all the player nostalgia and emotional attachment that implies.

The studio said that, though there are "clear ways" to improve the system based on the survey's results, "these themes are not reflective of a direction we're taking RuneScape in." So the whole thing is going in the bin.

That doesn't mean Jagex is giving up, though. "We still do believe that RuneScape could benefit from a system to reward your time in Gielinor," said the company, but it emphasised that "If we do explore a new reward system… we need to involve players from the outset," and that any new ideas it has would contain "no paid disparity, through types of Membership or otherwise, around any Content Buffs or similar power-affecting concepts."

Players have mostly been positive about the news, even if their trust in Jagex is a little bruised. Over on the RuneScape subreddit, a user named thunder2nuts called the death of Hero Pass "A small victory for the players, in a long war against MTX." 

Elsewhere, a popular comment from user UnkoalafiedKoala reads, "Glad that this was the outcome, and here's to hoping that the feedback from this prevents the same situation happening again," before going on to give "thanks to the community team for facilitating that feedback and actually engaging w/ the community instead of going silent." That sentiment, including the positivity about RuneScape's community management team, is echoed multiple times across the thread.

Not everyone is happy, mind you. "I think I'm done for good," said user 72lrac, "Jagex isn't a company I want to support anymore," though even they admit that "plenty of people will be back sooner or later." You can't please everyone even if you apologise, I suppose, but even the people you don't please sometimes amble sheepishly back in a bit later. Perhaps that's how you keep a game going for 22 years. 

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.