The two bonus experience weekends thus far have both been highly controversial with most players taking gleeful advantage of the chance to train those all-important levels, especially Summoning and Herblore, for a fraction of the cost. Before we delve into the opinions, I'll take a look at the facts: First, the bonus xp weekends were only available to members. Second, the economy underwent a massive bubble effect. Third, the forums lit up with protest.
I would like to take a closer look at that last point. Many reasons were given for this protest, especially with the experience limit on Summoning put in place on the last bonus xp weekend, but the general consensus appears to be that it makes the levels... too easy. As if somehow hours and hours of doing the same 5-20 click sequences over and over again requires some degree of concentration, attention span, or for that matter, mental/physical tiring. I have always disagreed with this particular point of view. Perhaps its my experience in other role-playing games, not necessarily MMO's or even on a computer, that has spawned this particular train of thought but I have always enjoyed actually being able to play my video game than grinding, powerleveling or romping through filler encounters. To me it is all about the story and, with Runescape, the fellowship. Many of the “buyable” skills are prohibitively expensive to train and it is almost impossible to overcome the experience curve for some of them.
Just take a look at Herblore. A fairly straightforward skill that at high levels gives players the ability to make potions that put them far above the combat capabilities of their compatriots. The drive to achieve the Herblore level for the Extreme potions makes even getting the minor levels to do some of the more in-depth, story driven quests such as Fairy Tale Part 2, Glorious Memories, and While Guthix Sleeps, a real problem for most players. I fail to understand Jagex’s logic in making less content available to a wide number of players.
With the fellowship aspect I greatly appreciate the increased levels that the bonus xp weekend has brought. Dungeoneering, Monster Hunts, Minigames/Activities, and even Distractions and Diversions became easier, more complex, more common, or any combination of the above. Perhaps it’s my peculiar fondness for in game events but I again enjoy this by-product of the bonus xp weekend. Also, in the community department, subscribed a myriad of new P2P Runescapers. This is really caused by the first fact that I listed - that the bonus xp was only available to members. Many free players wanted to get those higher levels faster, and as I stated above, I applaud and accept that. This was another protest I noticed on the forum and when one drops the elitist view, the new members not only expand the Runescape Members economy (more producers and consumers means an expansion of the production possibilities front for you literalists). But it brought with it a wealth of new perspective and enthusiasm. Free players have less content to explore than members thus making levels a lot less important, therefore they fill their time with more amusing activities. This is something the relatively dry, level and wealth based, grind your heart out members worlds desperately needs.
The only negative thing I have to say about the bonus xp weekends are the economic effects. Now I don't want to sound like another over-analytical gremlin (despite the fact that I probably already do) but I can't help but notice the huge bubble that the bonus xp weekend created. Again, Herblore is clearly the most poignant example but it can be also observed in the various metals and runes commonly used for training. This bubble inflated greatly the first week after the announcement was made and it quickly devalued almost all the new treasure trail items, the high-level combat and skilling items, and even some old rares as they were quickly dumped to obtain supplies. The second week things began to slow down, with herbs quickly losing value, and after the bonus xp fest was over... the bubble had truly burst and if one could use the analogy of a pendulum, it will take a great many swings back and forth before it stabilizes again. The constant cycle of over-supplied and unbuyable commodities will plague Runescape for some time to come.
Finally I would like to say that while the two bonus xp weekends so far have worked wonders for gameplay, I think that another one would be a bad idea. Protests grew louder the second time around and the more controversy Jagex creates between itself and its players, the less of a positive impact future updates will have due to Jagex having built up a negative rapport with the community.
Thanks for the bonus xp weekends, Jagex. I for one enjoyed them and appreciate it; but I wouldn't risk doing it again.