If you haven't already quit RuneScape because of the Squeal of Fortune and if you've decided to not buy experience, then you may have noticed that JaGEx intends to introduce new content later this month as a new and different way of training Runecrafting. Simply called "The Runespan," JaGEx teases us by saying, "You’ll be able to traverse the floating network of islands that make up the Runespan with magical platforms installed by Runecrafting Guild pioneers, collecting runes and helping hapless wizards who’ve become stuck, all for bags of Runecrafting XP."
Part of the tease included a bit that, although no runes could be kept, members could save up points for a new wardrobe along with a huge pouch. Also as a side note, some of the new content would be available to free players. A new way to train Runecrafting for free players is a welcome sight. Currently, the fastest (feasible) way to train Runecrafting in F2P nets less than 15k xp/hr. The last thing known about this new update is that there are three levels to it, probably meaning three experience rates. From a member's perspective, a huge pouch will help Runecrafting regardless of whether the new content is a bust or not. An extra 18 rune essence in one inventory space should help increase the speed at which higher levelled players gain experience. If the new robes are more than purely cosmetic, there may be even more reason to use the Runespan. It's difficult to imagine that they'd boost Runecrafting more than the Master Runecrafting Robes do, so they'd have to have some other bonus. Unless the huge pouch degrades and requires these points to be repaired, or the new robes are charged with points, it's difficult to imagine that they'd keep players coming back for more Runespan.
Another reason the Runespan may remain popular is if it gathers a following, much like the Great Orb Project did. Certain groups of players were so dedicated that they earned millions of tokens within the first few years. Clans were formed for the purpose of identifying the other "good" players and also to facilitate 1v1 and 2v2 competitions. If the Runespan has a method to keep score, is social and has teams of players, or simply requires "mad clicky skills," it'll definitely remain well used content. The single biggest reason that Runespan would be a success is that it would give much greater experience than ZMI. If the Runespan gave 75-100k xp/hr, it's easy to imagine that it becomes the primary training method for Runecrafting. With three tiers of content, if Runespan gave multiples of 25k xp/hr, there's no doubt it'll be the best way to train for free players and members alike. The biggest reason this new content would stay balanced is because players wouldn't be able to earn money from it, just experience.
Not to be a pessimist, but there is also the very real possibility that this new content is a bust. If players don't need the Runespan after obtaining their huge pouch, and if the rewards are simply one and done (like rune or dragon gauntlets from Fist of Guthix, or the inferno adze from All Fired Up), the new content will go straight to the useless pile. If the experience doesn't at the very least match ZMI or air runes in F2P, there will be no reason to use it. If the new content requires player interaction, and nobody decides to play, it won't matter how much some people enjoy it; the new content will be doomed from the start. If JaGEx doesn't remove buy-able experience from the Squeal of Fortune, there may still be no reason to train Runecrafting.
All things considered, the Runespan has incredible potential to change the way players train Runecrafting. Any new content that (short of paying $200 a day) lets free players train Runecrafting faster than 15k xp/hr and members train faster than 60k xp/hr is a welcome sight. Hopefully there will be more of a reason to use the Runespan other than getting a huge pouch. Later this month, the remaining players in the game just might be treated to a new Runecrafting method.