Two people have paid their way to this year’s Runescape convention—hotel, air fare, entry tickets and spending cash—without spending a single cent of real-world money.
They did this by utilizing Bonds, one of Jagex’s in-game premium currency for the game. These work in the game to pay for premium member content and can be exchanged for in-game items. Prices fluctuate, making it similar in general concept to EVE Online’s PLEX or Wildstar’s C.R.E.D.D. system. The Bonds system was introduced last year by Jagex.
Now usually, trading such currencies for out-of-game gain is a big no-no, but Jagex does have a system during Runefest where players can trade Bonds for, well, pretty much everything at the con. Player Aaron James and his friend successfully coughed up enough Bonds into not just the “full package” – which includes the hotel room and entry tickets—but also into a round-trip ticket from the USA. The convention will be held on October 11th at London’s Tobacco dock. Yep, there’s a place in London that’s called that. They also parlayed bonds into “Crystal coins”, which are considered spending cash at the con.
More interesting are some of the stats that Jagex have trotted out about Bonds. Some 2.3 million Bonds have been purchased since last year, with about 80% of it consumed for membership. That translates into 27.6 million membership days. Further, gold-farming plummeted with the introduction of Bonds, dropping some 81% “within weeks”, which had the knock-on effect of stabilizing the in-game economy. That’s the kind of sobering numbers that make video game companies sit up and pay attention to the words “free-to-play”.
“Our community responded fantastically to the introduction of Bonds a year ago, which resulted in many millions of Bonds being purchased and redeemed. A year later, nearly 20% of RuneScape players pay for their membership subscription through their in-game efforts and half of the premium RuneCoin currency comes from bond redemptions”, said Phil Mansell, vice president of RuneScape. “This has also helped bring greater stability to the game economy, and has reduced incidents of gold farming and botting to an all-time low.”
Runescape is out now on PC.