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A brief history of how Runescape achieved success then lost it, and now is trying to get it back

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Runescape has a very long story filled with triumphs, downfalls, rebirths and turns of events which no one expected. Knowing the story helps you understand why the title is still enjoyed by people and why do they still play it. Let’s dive in and find out, shall we?


Runescape was built on top of Java programming language all the way back in 2001. Created by a company called Jagex, this game takes place in a magical, mythical and fictional world of Gielinor where players fight, skill, earn gold and do various tasks while playing. The game came at the right time when there was virtually no MMORPG’s of such magnitude and that this much to offer. Instantly it popped off and became well-known amongst more and more players.

Runescape 2 and peak popularity:

Runescape grew, and subsequently, the programmers/developers did everything to progress and accommodate the massive influx of players and give them many new features and things to play with. This is how Runescape 2 (the original version of the current Old School Runescape) came to life and took over everything. It topped 1 million daily players and created a working economy that was supplemented and also partly driven by real-world trading which we will discuss later on. However, as always, the law of nature goes: for every action, there is an equal reaction, and the glory started to weigh in on the developers slowly.

Stagnation and questionable updates

After proliferating between 2004 and 2006, RS seemed to stop and stagnated with non-increasing numbers for a while. This led to the developers thinking and implementing ideas of what could be done in order to improve and bring back the hype which was slowly dying out (in their minds). December of the year 2007 was the time when questionable decisions began and the game started to feel different and never returned. In the mentioned month, two major steps were taken by Jagex:

  • Removing PvP combat in the Wilderness
  • Restricting trades between players

These two moves had disastrous effects. While those two moves were primarily focused on combating real-world trading; we believe that if Jagex could re-do just one thing, they would look this over. After three years of not giving up on their ideas of removal and restriction, they kept losing players. So in 2011, finally Wilderness PvP combat was brought back, and free trade received lighter restrictions. It looked like RS was back on track.

Now there has to be some mention of gold-trading. It is one of the main reasons that drove the game and placed it in the position of where it is at right now. Some people noticed that people are willing to spend real-life money to buy in-game currency. It became a small business for players in the early 2000’s to sell earned gold. This was the type of “Under the shelf” business that was not regulated nor was it possible to track it. More people joined in, and it became a large business. At one point in time, a million GP cost around 7+ USD, while now, cheapest OSRS gold goes for less than 1USD/million. Throughout the years, every update that Jagex made was to limit gold farming and real-world trading somehow. The measures they chose were not that great, so in the long-run, they only harmed themselves and not the market because it persevered.

Nowadays, sites like Probemas are large businesses that have customer services, many payment methods and all sorts of tools to provide security and reassurance to buyers. That’s how much the industry has progressed.

Evolution of Combat

In 2012, Runescape 2 introduced the most substantial update yet – EoC and thus became Runescape 3. It completely overhauled the way it was played and for some reason, players did not really fall in love with it even though they voted on the most necessary changes themselves. This system completely changed, I mean turned the boat the whole 180 degrees. Now RS resembled WoW or Dragon Age more than the previous version of itself. The new interface was filled with unseen things, like various special attacks, complicated moves, re-vamped HUD etc. For old players, this felt like the true Runescape drew its last breath and slowly faded away. Subsequently, some players fell in love with the game but bigger and bigger numbers of veterans said goodbye for good. This marked an end of an era, but also created a new chapter in the book as well.

The main problem all players had was that Jagex failed to follow: “If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” mentality. Everything was going smooth, the game needed constant improvement, sure, but it should not come in the form of a complete overhaul of the combat so quickly or at least that is what the players who left, probably thought.

What is happening now?

Due to the massive outcry and requests to bring back the old Runescape, a classic version called Old School Runescape was released. It has all of the same features as Runescape did back in August 2007, a time of great many joys for RS players. The player base is stable, the economy is doing great, and the world is just as fun as ever, so you should come and play soon!