RuneScape knows of five minigames that sees a more or less random group of people battling another such group. It started with Castle Wars, followed by Trouble Brewing, and later the Great Orb Project, Stealing Creations and Soul Wars were added. I thought it would be nice to line them up to compare them to each other, and the conclusions might surprise you.
Castle Wars, the oldest and simplest of them all. A basic, combat based, capture the flag game that is still the most popular one of all. The game holds rewards that are only good for showing off, and those take a long time to gather. Castle Wars seems to be the game you play when you're just bored.
Trouble Brewing does hold rewards, especially these days when there is high demand for Mature Greenman's Ales. But the point of competition escapes me. You are in it for your own pesos, and you get exactly the same reward whether you win or lose. Even burning enemy property (something severely frowned upon) helps nobody, as your time can be better spent gathering the raw materials needed.
The Great Orb Project, however glitched it still is, provides moderate rewards during the game itself, and quite a hefty reward should you win a few of the battles. A major downside of this game is whichever team wins, seems to be apparent as soon as the very first battle is underway. But the penalty that prohibits people from playing the game for a while, prevents people from quitting the team prematurely (some rewards are better then no rewards).
In Stealing Creation it is obvious that there has been a genius at work. It is a minigame that uses all but three skills (Farming, Firemaking and Slayer, I made a suggestion a while back on how to include these), provides a nice reward for the work you have done yourself, and manages to sort the teams somewhat equally. Launching a battle every 5 minutes also prevents disgruntled people as they will not be excluded from playing.
Soul Wars is really only popular for one thing; easy XP. But it has another hidden quality. Often, and without intent, the teams remain pretty much equal, even in their overall zeal earnings. On one side you have a very overcrowded team with a couple of Soul Wars clans promising you 3 zeal, but these also attract a throng of low level freeloaders that far outweigh any skilled players. And the other team is an overall decent rabble. The difference between these teams is not the average skill level, but rather the mission each team has. In the first team you have a 50-50 chance to get in, but it is going for a win which may or may not happen. And the second team is a guaranteed 1 zeal, and with a bit of decent defence, it might actually be a tie and grant you 2 zeal.
So, going front to back, let’s distil the good factors. Soul Wars has an unintentional way of keeping the teams equal. Stealing Creation requires you to work for your own reward and neuters freeloaders. The Great Orb Project somehow encourages you to stick with the game and not quit because you're losing. Trouble Brewing, while encouraging teamwork, does not actually have a difference between winning and losing, and prevents a lot of hard feelings.
But Castle Wars...
It has nothing, let me repeat, NOTHING to bring to the table other then it not requiring a string of quests to play like Trouble brewing. But the rewards suck, the combat element is much better represented in Soul Wars, and if you do not get on the stronger team, you're better off hopping worlds because you do not want to wait another 25 minutes.
Now, there are about as many suggestions to improve or adept Castle Wars as there are people that have played it. Most notably the implementation of the Guthix team (hey, finally a use for that green portal) has been invented and re-invented time and again. Smaller suggestions to make the game more attractive, or at least make it more economically useful, have also been floated. Think along the lines of improving the armour rewards, whether it's the stats or the looks. Or perhaps Castle Wars tickets (by FAR the hardest to earn non-virtual currency) could be exchanged for other items.
But I am afraid that this is not likely to happen. Even though we've seen upgrades to old minigames (Champions Challenge, Barbarian Assault), Jagex are not known to actually change the things to our wishes. I remember well when they were confronted with their own statement that if 5% of the people did not like a particular update, they would review it. Not long after that a poll showed that only 3% favoured the Karil Barrows set over all others, and yet nothing has changed.
On top of that, Castle Wars is old, classic if you will. Some would argue that it doesn't need changing, and they are probably right. It is still more popular then Trouble Brewing, Stealing Creation and the GOP combined, and nothing will change that. Besides, how quickly do you think the Rants forums would overload if they changed Castle Wars..? Game on.