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Runescape seems to have quite a bit of life left. Its possible many of the people who feel runescape is dieing are infact just outgrowing the game. Very few other games have so many 5-10yr vets and even some 15yr vets. these players, like myself, are now in their 20-30's and hoping to still have the same attachment to the game they once did. the graphics and updates isn't what many people want because they wish to suckle at the tit of nostalgia. To a time when life was worry free and easy. at least that is somewhat how i feel, Though i do still enjoy playing the game. Runescape Gold is the main currency in Runescape. All Runescape players want to get more gold, just like people in real world wish to get more money. But how can players get more rs gold? All Runescape players all around the world should be really happy to know that Runescape Gold is now can be purchased via online.
In order for runescape to survive and thrive they need to be able to able to bring in new players. Runescape however is an intimidating game to start, especially if you do not have friends that play of even a slight familiarity with the game. there is so much to accomplish that even many 10yrs won't ever comp. recently i have been seeing runescape ads on youtube, but they seem to be targeted to existing players who likely are already aware of the content. In order to bring in new players i feel jagex needs to release content that is appealing to all levels. the arc should have been a place for all runescape players to level and explore. though the game has plenty of content for new players much of it needs updating and attention, and could use a bit of flare.
Basically I don't think runescape is dieing, as i see between 55-85k people on at most any time. Compared to a year or 2 ago when it saw more often in 45-55k range. which is actually a pretty strong player base (even divided across a couple games), Runescape in my opinion has always hosted too many servers, but many times the top worlds are only a hundred or so players short of the world being full, so if you are having trouble finding people perhaps try a different server. playing on a server with only 200 people on it isn't a good indication if the game is dieing. Many of these servers were never populated.
A finished, and balanced EOC would be a big selling point. right now all 3 combat styles have abilities that mirror the other ones. some combat styles make it hard to even fill an action bar. More abilities need to be added so that builds can vary and become more personalized, especially with this new attention to pvp type content. i could go on an on about it..I don't hate EOC but it definitely feels unfinished and the builds forced.
No one can be sure but i feel the mtx heavy trend over the past few years is a fad. Even the avid TH supporters can only justify spending so much. I myself have begun trying to ween myself off of such content. I believe Runescape will outlive the mtx craze that most all popular games offer in at least one way or another. At which point it will become especially important to bring in new players and new members. The jagex team is more than capable of doing this but must not feel it is currently a priority.
I agree the community is divided, but is such the nature of such a large game. The open sandbox feel does not herd players through specific channels and activities so the population is spread out. I have no trouble running in to people on more populated worlds. Granted many minigames are dead, but that is because not enough people wish to play them, not that there isn't enough players to play them. Many games, even some popular mmos function almost entirely on instances. With less diversity in activites and strong emphasis on party systems many of these games may feel more populated, when in fact it is quite the opposite.
Jagex has already laid down so much foundation for runescape that it will be hard for it to ever completly slip in to oblivion. All it would take is one or a few really strong updates or overhauls to completly change this perception. The only problem is no matter what you do you're going to make some people unhappy. And jagex tries hard, maybe a bit too hard, to not make waves especially with existing content.