Among many high-level players in contact with it, the proposed ‘solution’ to what is ‘wrong’ with RuneScape is a nearly universal three-word phrase: ban the bots. Bots, they claim, are a problem because they ruin the RuneScape economy and ruin the game by cheating-hence they should be banned. But perhaps it is worth examining a different viewpoint-that bots are actually not the problem.
If you weren’t awake from your morning coffee before that, you are now. Undoubtedly, such an opinion will be met with skepticism, and I now offer a defense for it.
You don’t have to own a business to know what keeps a store operating at a profit. Rather than the indirect agents of good merchandise or excellent service, what keeps a store in business is customers. Regardless of how much effort, or lack thereof, it took to set up an automated means of advertising your store, without customers you will not turn a profit. Similiarly, the websites advertising in the Grand Exchange, Lumbridge, and to a lesser extent in other banks (which, over a period of time, continue to advertise the same sites) must be receiving some customers.
It may be tempting to reason that the existence of these sites is the fault of Jagex. After setting up an extremely repetitive system and then rewarding players with the prestige of skillcapes, and then destroying that prestige with a sequence of XP-deflating tactics, the new round of players is convinced that a little bit of cash will buy them a skillcape, and hence, instant fame. At the very beginning of RuneScape, there was no one to sell you the 150,000 “alchs” you needed to 99 magic, nor did anyone know that the successor to the compliment “Nice skillcape” would be the enquiry “How many?” But times have changed, and skills can now easily be “bought,” and so the demand, and customers, for these stores has suddenly appeared.
These customers, who purchase gold in exchange for real life cash, are effectively the demand for botters. As long as there are customers, botters will be set up and continuously create new ways to circumvent obstacles placed by Jagex, because the person botting is making a living off of it.
If you agree with my analysis so far, the natural follow-up question is: How should Jagex get rid of these customers? Every RuneScape account has agreed to follow the Terms and Conditions on Jagex’s website, but how many of those people actually read and understood them? Maybe they could use a refresher course. As silly as it would seem, an “These sites are not sponsored by Jagex-buying from them will get you banned!” autotyper on behalf of Jagex might do the trick. But given the amount of rules people break even when they know the rules, it is doubtful this would work.
Another perspective solution is going back to capped trade. Anyone who visited RuneScape the day before and after the update noticed the exponential increase in website advertisers, virtually overnight. Although this might work, it has the obvious drawbacks that were all too painfully apparent for two years. It also leads to the promise of powertraining and password scamming.
So what solution, you must be dying to know, am I proposing at this point? The answer is the same force that persuaded Jagex to reinstate free trade and the wilderness: mass player appeal. The RuneScape community has usually taken an “us-against-Jagex” stance after Jagex created an unsatisfactory update, with the case of free trade and the wilderness as the extreme example. Standing up to Jagex, one might argue, requires a certain amount of courage, but much more is required to stand up to one’s friends. And in the eleventh hour of RuneScape’s history, players need to stand up for integrity. The community needs to stand up for itself by following the rules and shunning those who do not. Lacking customers, the websites that set up the bots will close, and the only botter will be the isolated real player. Ultimately, following the three pillars of the code of conduct that Jagex set up-“Honour,” “Respect,” and “Security” are a responsibility of the players and the community as much as they are of Jagex.