Runescape players were already familiar with much of the format, as it employed a similar game-play and investment strategy as Mobilizing Armies. But there was a stark difference.
The Runescape mini-game was funded by items produced within the wider game. War of Legends was funded by real life cash.
The microtransactions within War of Legends are really a question of how patient you are – whether you wait, or whether you want to buy it to speed up the experience.
Adam Tuckwell, Jagex PR Manager
It was all patently an experiment in alternative ways of raising capital, but didn't enjoy nearly the success that Runescape itself has over the years. Then again, it's early days yet and the experience has obviously encouraged further micro-transaction experimentation.
In terms of publishing, War of Legends was certainly seen as the first of many such ventures. This was made clear in the same press release, dated February 8th 2011, in which investment growth was announced via Insight Venture Partners, The Raine Group and Spectrum Equity Investors.
In addition to Jagex's in-house development, the company also acts as a third-party publisher for developers of great content. Jagex recently published its first third-party title, War of Legends, and the company intends to release numerous third-party games throughout the next 12 months.
Press Release: Jagex Limited Receives Growth Investment.
At the time, Runescape players were unaware of a deeper significance in this news release. Insight Venture Partners had only been able to extend its stake in Jagex because Andrew Gower had sold his shares to them.
Jeff Horing now effectively owned all future direction with 55% of the deciding vote in the Jagex boardroom. This also marked the moment when the tide began to turn. More and more micro-transactions were on the table in Runescape itself.
They took the form of pixel katanas available only for those who had paid real world cash for game cards; or in initiatives like Refer a Friend or the Loyalty Points scheme.Those paying to attend RuneFest also acquired items in-game. Pressure was on for free playing gamers, who were ejected from the hiscores, until such time as they bought a subscription.
It was a drip drip of infusions, which found no real expression in outrage until the Squeal of Fortune made it all way too blatant. Even the most unobservant of players were getting the picture now.
But Jagex as a third-party publisher had to be good, hadn't it? Not necessarily, no.