Free trade and wilderness abandoned in 2007 to prevent cheating; 91 per cent vote for February return.
1.2 million RuneScape players voted in a referendum asking if they wanted free trade and the Wilderness area restored to the game.
Developer Jagex says that 91 per cent of respondents voted in favour of free trade and the Wilderness returning. It originally removed them from the browser-based MMOG in 2007 to combat bottling, gold farming and item scamming.
While Jagex made up for the removal by introducing new content allowing higher volumes of trade between friends, the developer found it was regularly being told that something was missing from the “good old days” of RuneScape.
Mark Gerhard, Jagex CEO, said when announcing the referendum last month that bringing back free trade in particular would likely result in difficulties. “We’ve been shutting down bot-makers all around the world and prosecuting people for stealing accounts, and we’ve evolved our systems to quickly detect cheating,” he said.
“However, we will have to accept that we will never completely eradicate cheating so long as there is an incentive and method to do so. Bringing back free trade and the original Wilderness will certainly make this a bigger issue than it is today, though I can pledge that we will never stop trying to combat it.”
But the community has spoken in resounding fashion, and Gerhard confirms on the RuneScape website that the features will be restored on February 1. “To help you prepare, we will be releasing a series of guides, FAQs and expert advice about the Wilderness and free trade, so that players both old and new can get ready for this epic release,” he says.
RuneScape, which celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month, is reportedly the world’s biggest free MMOG. Cambridge-based developer Jagex was named Best Developer at the Golden Joystick awards in 2009 and 2010 and last year announced a new sci-fi MMOG, Stellar Dawn.