Five years ago, Jagex Ltd. created RuneScape. Five years ago everything was free. Five years ago, not a lot of people discovered this fascinating game with its simple yet quite detailed graphics and sounds. To think, this game is Java-based! Jagex truly had pushed Java to its limits and maybe even beyond in the eye of a novice computer user.
In the past I had played games that offered almost little to no incentive to play for more than a few weeks because of the lack of skills or challenge. If I wanted more of those, I had to subscribe for their Pay-to-Play month option. The little "demos" given were hardly enough to convince me to even think about the notion. When I was finally introduced to RuneScape, I had found what I was looking for in games: various skills to work on, no restrictions on the game objective, and a simple-gaming environment.
On February 27th, 2002, I had already played the game for about eight months when Jagex announced that they had released the Pay-to-Play version of RuneScape: More skills, quests, armour, and places to explore. They had said they would update this version more than the Free-to-Play version. I more or less joined the crowd of people thinking that whatever updates P2P were getting would eventually go onto F2P.
Eventually, right? I was dead wrong.
Not only did F2P didn't get as many updates, but soon there appeared to be a rising tension between F2P'ers and P2P'ers themselves. From various communities, I witnessed posts of F2P'ers saying they "deserved" the updates, that without them RuneScape would not exist. P2P'ers stormed back that F2P'ers shouldn't get updates because they weren't paying for them. Clearly there was a divide. As time wore on, Jagex did give F2P'ers some of the updates they desired, but there will always be the cry for more. Despite the Crafting Guild, Dark Warriors Castle, and Bandits Camp in the Wilderness, despite the RuneScape 3D (a.k.a. RuneScape 2) update and the new skill added for both P2P and F2P, people wanted more.
As for me? I will admit, at one point I was a part of the group of beggars in the early stages of members. How much I longed for fletching so I wouldn't have to camp in Edgeville dungeon to collect arrows, how much fun agility and thieving sounded as my friends related to me their adventures on P2P! Yet, why didn't I pick up the credit card or cash to get P2P? Why did I choose to remain with the beggars? Why did so many like myself remain F2P?
The answers are quite simple for some, quite perplexing for others. For some, it was simply the economic factor. Please, do not tell me that if someone can afford the Internet and a computer that they can afford P2P. Some have parents that do not want to give them the money to pay for a game that would require a monthly membership. Others are wary about putting their credit card information down on the Internet, let alone a computer. There are some like myself who need to use the money for other things like higher education (tuition fees and textbooks versus a game). There was the time factor. We all have lives to care for, whether it be having a family, work responsibilities, educational goals that require more attention. Subscribing for P2P when having little time to make it worthwhile didn't seem like a good idea to me, and it was better to just buy a game that you can have long term without the monthly fees.
Then, there was the other reason: challenge.
I remained F2P because I needed it. For years I have played games that simply didn't offer that and competition. Sure I got stuck in Tomb Raider or Half-Life now and again, but eventually I got out of the puzzles. In some perspectives, I felt I had to prove to P2P'ers that F2P'ers can play RuneScape just as well as they could. That meant I had to get my skills to levels competing against P2P'ers.
It seems high level players are legends on F2P, and I don't blame the amazed newer players who see the occasional P2P'er level 123 log in at Draynor Village donning full Mystic Robes and Sardomin's staff as well as a prayer book. Even I couldn't help but gape at the sight, and here I was, level 118 in plain rune armour wielding my rune scimitar. One moment those newer players had followed me around begging for items, the next they ambushed the P2P'er who was merely there to make a trade with a friend. No, I wasn't jealous he was getting all of the attention. That's the last thing I ever wanted in my RuneScape career: attention. Why so many crave it is a mystery to me. The P2P'er logs out and the village is filled with excited chatter. The questions pound at me once more. "Who was that guy?" "What was all that cool stuff he was wearing?" "Why don't you have that stuff?"
Leveling skills to match up to P2P'ers required quite a bit of patience. There were times where I wanted to just smash the piggy bank and send my money to get P2P. At roughly 30,000 - 40,000 experience points per hour training on various monsters on F2P compared to the 50,000 to an insane 80,000 per hour on P2P, it was enough reason for some to go P2P to get high combat levels.
Other skills kept P2P'ers busy. The skills offered on F2P were just too boring. Boring? Well, maybe a little... But with 15 skills to choose from, I really couldn't understand how another six skills made the difference. Of course, I can see the advantages of fletching, herblore, agility, and slayer skills. But what about thieving? Open locked doors and chests, find new treasures... Maybe a skill to help draw a player away from a combat-oriented world? I don't know. Farming? Eh… No comment.
I laugh when people tell me to go back to P2P. How can I go back when I have never been there? I laugh when people tell me my P2P skills stink. How can they stink when I haven't even attempted to level them? I laugh when people nag me to get P2P to get away from the whiners and beggars. I've gotten used to it all now. The ignore list is my friend.
As I watch Jagex announce updates containing news of new armour and weapons, arenas and quests, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself over the many things that my fellow P2P'ers must engage in. The list of quests grows, the skills slowly emerge from the shadows of Jagex's offices, and now I'm hearing cries of "too many updates" from some people. Is too much a good thing?
I don't know, ask P2P'ers, not me. I'm just another "whining, begging F2P'er that isn't thankful for what Jagex gives," right?
Naw. Just another gamer searching for ways to challenge herself against other players in a more unengaged-in-combat way. For over four years and a half I have played this game. I have yet to step through the member's gates leading into Taverley, the Deeper Wilderness, and other places I dare not list in fear of boring you all and perhaps upsetting F2P'ers who still dream of going P2P.
I am thankful that there is still F2P to play on, thankful for all that exist now in the game. I'm ever more thankful when F2P does get updates. I'm thankful for P2P giving F2P the challenge. It's been accepted by many.
P2P'ers: I salute you.
Did You Know...
...that you can get to Shilo Village without taking the long walk? If you've completed the Shilo Village quest, you can get there quickly by using the cart in North Brimhaven. Its just south of the boat, and for a small fee, you can take a ride on the cart which takes you directly to Shilo Village, about 3 clicks west of the bank. (Thanks Leesters!)
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