I tried to come up with a smarter, wittier title for this article until I realised that the whole concept of ‘Wilderness & Free Trade poll’ was rather mind-blowing in its own way and didn’t need embellishment to make it any more eye-catching. You’ve probably been aware of this poll, perhaps even voted in it, but for the sake of clarification let’s explain this rather mind-boggling event.
On the 21st December Jagex released a ‘poll’, and I use the term lightly, on whether or not they should bring back the old-style Wilderness and the ability to trade (with no limits) between players. Anyone with an awareness of the Runescape community, even without having been playing Runescape in December 2007, will know what a huge thing this is. The removal of the old-wilderness and free trade has been easily the most controversial and game-affecting updates that Runescape has ever seen. Even to this day, from many players, there is a vehement hatred of Jagex for the removal of these important aspects of the game.
Of course, the removal of wilderness and free trade wasn’t done on a whim. It was done as a part of the ongoing fight against bots and Real World Traders (RWT) selling Runescape items for real money, often using stolen credit cards. Jagex, risking going into serious legal and financial issues because of this, had to take the step of removing these aspects of the game that made RWT easier to do. Whether or not you agree with what they did, it is not hard to see what a bold step this was. Jagex did lose players from this and managed to dent their reputation, possibly irrevocably.
Like it or hate it, Jagex made their decision and have been constantly standing by it for the past 3 years. Yet now, out of the blue, they sprung that horrible excuse of a ‘poll’ on us. It asked us whether or not we want to “see the return of free trade and the danger of the original wildy.” That would be great, of course, if the ‘poll’ had an option other than ‘yes’. The whole idea is that if you disagree with the return of these things then you’ll simply not vote. I’d just like to take a minute to point out what a stupid idea that really is. How do you distinguish a vote of “no” against a vote of “I don’t care” or a vote of “I haven’t played this game in years”? Not to mention the fact that you don’t even need to be logged in to vote, a system that can be abused, as shown by users on the Runescape Official Forums who voted yes under the name of players who expressed their dislike of this poll and its possible consequences, as shown below.
It’s safe to say that the outcome of that poll was rather meaningless. Jagex would definitely not do something so stupid as to make this poll and then not release a new version of the wilderness and free trade. They will have come up with a way to implement them without giving an advantage to botters, I think this much is okay to presume since if Jagex were to introduce the wilderness and free trade again, they wouldn’t just copy and paste the old wildy exactly how it used to be.
I really think that this is nothing more than a PR stunt, a big PR stunt to generate controversy, publicity and to make players think they’ve been listened to even though this whole thing has probably been planned for months. The timing is just perfect too seeing as it’s Christmas time, when people are off school and work - and happen to have a few extra pounds in their pocket. This is a great time to capitalise on bringing back a much loved aspect of the game.
That’s just one theory, the other holds a bit less common sense and more speculation, but is deserving of being mentioned all the same. When the poll was first released, at the bottom of the page where Jagex’s copyright is located, there was another copyright – Guinness World Records. We all know how much Jagex love to flaunt their world record of best free mmo but the copyright, subsequently has been removed, shows a more sinister possibility of this poll. There’s a very real chance that this is just an attempt at getting another world record like ‘world’s biggest online poll’, or perhaps ‘world’s worst online poll’. Really – what sort of a poll is it when there’s only one option to vote for?
But then on the 24th December they released a supposed ‘phase 2’ of this debacle. In this phase, you’re actually given a choice in whether or not you want to vote yes, no or indifferent. Jagex also took the common sense step of requiring people to log in before voting. They’re saying that the first poll was done to gauge how much interest there was from the community… but I don’t believe it. Really, are you so blind to the community that you needed to make a poll and get 1 million people (or rather, bots) to vote? It’s obvious that the overwhelming majority of the community would want to have the wilderness and free trade back. I refuse to believe that Jagex don’t understand that.
It is fairly likely that this referendum of phase 2 will bring about a resounding vote of yes. I think that, had they ran this poll in the first place, they would have saved themselves a lot of pain and drama. I think that just the fact that they can’t put a decent poll together, or won’t put a decent poll together for PR reasons, is fairly terrible. Am I being too harsh on them, perhaps? But seeing as my username was stolen to vote for the changes in the first poll, when I wanted otherwise, I think I’m fairly justified in saying that the results of that poll are meaningless and just an attempt by Jagex to fool people into thinking that their opinion really matters.
I don’t plan on quitting, or pretending that this is the Runescape apocalypse, if the new Wildy and free trade does go through… but I’d like to know how deeply Jagex have disappointed this loyal believer in them. I thought that you knew better and no amount of ‘phases’ is going to change it.