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Lack of Support for Old School RuneScape Could Benefit Botters and Gold Farmers
Old school servers are making a comeback in RuneScape, but there is a chance that it will not have the same robust anti-bot and anti-gold farming system found in the normal servers. The reason: Quite anemic support for old school servers.
Jagex had previously asked RuneScape fans to vote for the return of old school servers, which run the 2007 version of the long-running mmorpg. The number of votes cast will determine the level of resources Jagex will throw behind developing and maintaining the old school servers, including the roll out anti-bot and anti-gold farming upgrades.
As of this writing, there have only been 251,000 votes cast in favor of old school servers. Jagex required 500,000 votes before guaranteeing the anti-bot and anti-gold farming upgrades.
With less than a week left before voting ends at 00:00 GMT on 1st March 2013, it seems unlikely that 500,000 votes will be reached. Jagex themselves admitted that among the 2 million unique visitors who visited the old school servers poll page, just slightly more than 10% have thrown their votes.
At 250.000 votes, Jagex promised that old school servers "will receive basic maintenance for bug fixes and little improvements, with the possibility of integrating our modern anti-bot technology over time, if it becomes necessary."
The emphasis here is "if it becomes a necessity" which suggests that Jagex will only clamp down on gold farming and bot activities when things go out of hand. Gold farmers and bot users could potentially take advantage of the situation before the big purge.
Not enough funds
Jagex is being financially realistic when it comes keeping order in the old school servers. Policing them from RuneScape gold farmers and bots cost money. Since only a fraction of the RuneScape player base voted to keep and possibly pay membership for them, Jagex will have limited funds to spend for this specific feature.
Anti-bot and anti-gold farming upgrades are a relative luxury. More important than these are the maintenance costs of keeping the servers running, as well as the bug fixes that make the game fun, balanced and playable.
But gold farmers and bot runners should not celebrating just yet. Jagex mod Pips answered in the most recent FAQ that the 2007 old school servers will carry additional protection from what it had half a decade ago.
"We've started to add in our modern anti-bot technology into the 2007 game, so even the early access phase of Old School RuneScape will have some additional protection beyond was what present back in the day," he said.
"We will progressively add more of these elements over the next few weeks and months. Our stance of fighting aggressively against RWT and botters remains the same for the Old School service too," he added, insinuating that regardless of the votes cast, Jagex could still enforce its strict anti-bot and anti-gold farming regime.
Jagex Promises Renewed Purge of Runescape Gold Farmers
2013 should be a tough year for Runescape gold farmers as the game's developer promises to clamp down on gold farming and gold selling activities.
The announcement came as Runescape developer Jagex noticed a shift in bot demographics, with gold farming bots growing in numbers relative to the number of player-controlled bots in the free to play mmorpg.
"We do know for a fact there are far fewer players botting now in game than there were back in 2011. However, what's enraging is that this improvement has been undermined by the sizable increase in gold farming bots," said Mark Gerhard, CEO of at Jagex, in his "2013: What's Coming and What's Going" blog post.
"So, in 2013, we will also be adding a parallel strategy to specifically target gold farmers and related illicit RWT activities. We'll be talking more about this soon."
1,000 Player Accounts Banned Daily
Jagex currently purges bots at an astounding rate of 1,000 player accounts banned daily. It also deletes "tons more" illegitimate trial accounts.
It has done so through the help of anti-bot tech improvements rolled out in 2012, including BotWatch and Botany Bay. Jagex confesses though that there is much to be improved in creating synergy between these anti-bot systems.
"It's put us well ahead of the technology used by bot developers. However, our communications around the launch of Botany Bay didn't reflect that we needed to roll this technology out gradually, since permanently banning accounts requires systems which are absolutely fool-proof. Botany Bay has not yet made full use of our new anti-bot systems, but we are looking forward to rolling them out," said Gerhard.
Banking on BotWatch
As it embarks on an anti-gold farming crusade in 2013, Jagex will likely bank on its BotWatch system, which Gergard said has been quite effective in weeding out unwanted gold farming activity. "I'm thrilled to see the success that BotWatch has already had against bots and gold farmers."
BotWatch was introduced in September 2012 as the first automated banning system in Runescape. BotWatch monitors account behavior, and is able to determine whether it is a bot account or not. Presumably, Jagex plans to fine-tune the system even more to monitor gold farming and gold trading activities specifically.
Impact on Runescape Gold Prices
What would an intensified crackdown on gold farmers mean for Runescape Gold prices? Once Jagex begins its clean-up campaign, supply will likely dwindle, pushing prices up from the current average of $18-$30 per 50 million Gold.
We have observed similar gold price increases in 2012 immediately after a new round of bans. In fact, the price increases might even be steeper this time around considering that Jagex will be targeting gold farming bots with extra prejudice and not just normal player bots used for automated leveling or loot grinding.