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I had 9 friends "actively" playing Runescape Pre EoC , after EoC 2 of them remain playing. why? cause the other 7 botted 3/4 of their playtime (with minimum 3 accounts each) and well they didn't play it, some tried botting but lost those account to a ban-hammer, 1 'returned' to oldschool to do the same thing. Do we count them as 'players'?
Note that this is just my side, consider multiple perspectives with the same results from other scapers and EoC lost lots of bots and pk'ers in the end.
But ID does change one important issue- DAILY players vs online at the moment, we're looking through the wrong point of view"Runescape3 doesn't break 50k oftenly". Guess what. It doesn't matter, If I play Runescape 17'00 to 19'00 Greenwich Mean Time+2 today, I contributed to daily player counter, bot only "online at the moment" for those 2 hours, the player base "rotates" it's not synchronized or anything, but it's there. The same purpose of being online less is because there's less DEAD-GRIND, in 2-3 hours of 'gameplay' in end game now earn you the progress that would otherwise take 10 hours 6 years ago. Take mining for example in 2006 here's your mining guide " lvls 1-15 mine copper+tin lvls 15-99 PowerMine iron ores...(or PowerMine granite past lvl50 or coal lvl30), this will take you ~260h to get ONE 99, and the timer if you slowdown AND YOU WILL SLOW DOWN. nice options right? when higher level materials like Mithril Adamant and Runite gave lesser experience. There was no level scaling.
As for oldschool problems, when you mention "Runescape3 can't hit number of players" and include reasons for more bots in oldschool runescape You literally forget one detail- struggling with real player counter on olds chool with players not bots. When the osrs gold is 5 times more valuable on the game which can run more botting clients (which accumulates even more olds chool runescape gold) followed by smaller risks of getting banned you have yourself your own goldmine on oldschool. OSRS doesn't keep up with real players. The only good thing about polls is that after a release of a poll, within first 24 hours you can have an accurate prediction of oldschool runescape actual playerbase AND daily players on oldschool are completely smaller to Runescape3 daily playerbase.
You have to realize that how much game market has grown though, how many other games are out there these days? Thousands upon thousands with same numbers as in Runescape. So for like 15 years old game, having some what close to 50k is really good. And note that back then bots and f2p were a thing.