One thing I find great about the Tip.It times is that we sometimes cover the Runescape economy in our articles. I often enjoy these articles because it gives me some glimpse into what’s going on in the mad world of Runescape economics – a world which I am almost entirely ignorant to.
Being an active member of our Tip.It forums gives me a unique look at Runescape, one which is far broader than, dare I say, the considerations of a player who isn’t active in the community. I’m far more aware than a player of my skill levels should be of various issues such as which is better out of the Chaotic Longsword and Chaotic Rapier, whether or not crashing at bosses is fair and the debate over Extreme potions and Overloads – whether or not they should be allowed in PvP combat situations. If you look at my modest levels, there’s no reason that I would need to understand any of this, but it’s a side-effect of too much forum browsing. But all that being said - I know next to nothing about Runescape economics.
Why don’t I? It’s certainly an important thing that you’d think anybody would want to understand. The economy drives a lot of what we do. It says what prices we buy our items at, what prices we sell them at, what methods of skilling or training are profitable and others a drain on our cash piles. It dictates a lot of Runescape life. While I’m hardly the most efficient player you could find, I’ll often look up and check my prices before buying supplies because I’m very aware that while money can be come by in many ways, I don’t want to be spending all my time making it. I want to enjoy myself by training whatever skill I fancy at that time.
So why don’t I try to understand it? Well, I have tried… but it’s hard to grasp. I’ve never been one for maths and while I like to think I have a pretty firm grasp on logic and how to think things through systematically, the systems at work in the Runescape economy elude me. It’s certainly not an easy thing to dip into. The first thing you look at is the Grand Exchange. There’s trade limits, both on how many of an item you can buy at one time, and the price range you can buy or sell it for. There’s the way that the GE updates regularly as well as how buying from shops work. Then you’ve got trade between players and the murky world of ‘Street’ trading.
The Grand Exchange, I like to think that I understand but if you were to throw me into a busy World 2 or the Marketplace forums on the RSOF I wouldn’t have a clue. I know vaguely what junk is but it took a long time to realise what use it actually had. Even now, it’s a struggle. The law of supply and demand, the way that Manipulation clans can change prices and what huge effects an update can have to items’ prices.
You might be thinking ‘I understand the economy, I’m not bothered’. But you should be. Two days from now our economy will go through the biggest upheaval since Free Trade was taken away… the return of Free Trade. The Grand Exchange is going to become a more fluid system with no strict limits on prices – just with guide prices to help those with no clue what the ‘real price’ of an item should be, like me. Free Trade will presumably eliminate the need for junk trading. Everything that we know to be true, in an economic sense, is going to be thrown into chaos, at least for a short while.
It’s not just the actual updates that will be making ripples on the economy. Many players who left in December 2007 are likely to return when they hear of the return of Wilderness & Free Trade, this means more players, more PKers, more Rares returning to the market from their dusty place in someone’s bank. This is all going to make a change to the economy in ways which I, an economically ignorant person, can’t really imagine.