Many people wonder about how many pure gp's (gold pieces) there are floating around in the RuneScape economy. Its hard to make a good estimate because there are so many different factors in play, from the easier ones like high alching to the rather vague ones like the amount of gp "banned" by Jagex, by banning characters. Nevertheless, I'm still going to make an educated guess at it, backing it up with several facts and statistics.
So let's start by taking a look at the money makers first. Nothing surprising: fletching and smithing are the major ones, as most people probably expected. However, since the introduction of dragon hide ranging armour, crafting is becoming more important. Thieving contributes a small amount of gp too and lastly we have the "monster drop" money maker.
Let's define the money drains now. It must be said that they are much more difficult to estimate though. We have: banning (vague one, but very important), shops (runes, arrows, drag scimitars, longs, battle axes, square halves, cannons and more of such items) and lastly the barrows.
It is without doubt that smithing would have been the biggest gp creator back in the day, but because smithing is practically obsolete nowadays, because fletching is a much faster money creator and because F2P can support the fletch-money machine since the beginning of RS2 by cutting yews, the times have changed and fletching has become far more important then smithing.
On to the statistics: how much did fletching roughly bring into the economy? If you analyse the high scores, you can estimate that all people who can make yew longs (about 40,000 players) have a total of 112,000 million experience points combined. Yeah that is correct, I said a total of 112 billion fletching exp. Subtracting the amount of XP needed to be able to fletch yew longs (times 40,000 players) that means a total of 82 billion fletching exp gained after the ability to make yew longs. Dividing that number by the XP you gain from making a strung yew long (150 exp) that means a total of 550mil strung yew longs were made. We can safely assume that they were all high alched (768gp) and conclude that fletching brought about 420 billion gp into the game.
I calculated the amount of gp created by smithing the same way. The first 200,000 players got 63,500mil exp combined; 46,000mil exp after steel plate smithing. 46,000 divided by 275 exp for a steel plate means 170mil steel plates. 170mil steel plates times 1,200gp is 200 billion.
Using the same tactic with crafting. First 6,000 people? 10,800mil exp ? 6,000mil exp after blue dragon hide leather body crafting? 28,5mil blue dragon hide leather body's ? 160bil gp created. But because dragon hide crafting is not the only way to level crafting and because dragon hide crafting is only possible since the start of RS2 I would make the estimate a little lower and put it at 100 billion.
The last skill to consider is thieving. First 30,000 people? 25,500mil exp? 20,500mil exp after knight thieving? 240mil thefts? 15bil gp. Almost negligibly small compared to the other skills.
The last money maker, combat, can only be guessed at. I assumed 500,000 players (the 500,000th player is approximately 65 combat) all introduced 0.2mil gp into the economy by combat (note that combat doesn't only mean money dropped by the monsters, but also the high alching of items that are dropped by the monsters). That would be another 100bil into the economy.
How much gp the money drains drained from RuneScape can only be estimated at, and these can be a lot off the reality, but I'll try my best to make an educated estimate anyway.
I think we can say about 50bil-90bil gp was banned by Jagex. Note that you should also add all gp that went to RuneScape Classic to this total. According to stories I heard, numerous hackers with 100s mils have been banned. Also, duper accounts who cashed out duped party hats might have been banned with loads of gp on them. I mostly base my guess on these cases.
Now I'm going to estimate the gp drained by regular shops, like arrow and rune shops since the start of RuneScape 2. Assuming that there were 4 people at each of the (average during the whole period of RuneScape 2) 70 servers buying 10 items for 25gp every 15 seconds since the start of RuneScape 2 we can calculate the gp drained: 4 people * 70 servers * 3,600 sec/h * 24h/day * 500 days since RuneScape 2 = 12,000mil seconds. 12,000mil / 15 sec/click * 10 items/click * 25gp/item = 200bil gp drained.
As for the money drained by other shops (weapons, armour, cannons, shield halves and other expensive items like that), let's say about 60bil was drained by them. Adding approximately 40bil, which I estimated to be drained back in RuneScape Classic by shops, and we have a total of 200 + 60 + 40 = 300bil drained by shops.
Lastly we'll take a look at barrows, although it is not an important factor - yet. Barrows has been out for 4 months now. Let's say there were 2,500 sets out there on average and that they had to be repaired three times every month (that means about 1.5 hours of combat training per day). 2,500 sets * 3 times * 4 months * 330k gp/time = 10bil gp drained.
To recap, in total I estimate about 420 + 200 + 100 + 15 + 100 = 835bil gp created and 70 + 200 + 60 + 40 + 10 = 380bil drained. The result of that would be 455bil gp in the economy. Although the whole analysis looks quite accurate and although I'm quite convinced I'm not off by too much, you should keep in mind that there have been various (huge?) assumptions and this estimate could be off by a lot.
I hope all this talk about 100bil here and 100bil there didn't scare too many of you. If you enjoyed reading this article then feel free to give feed back about it on the forums: