You will be aware, from newsposts and this week's Development Diary, of real-world trading and the danger it poses to RuneScape. To solve this once and for all, we are tweaking what happens when you drop items, updating the trade system to warn you about unbalanced trades and planning a final adjustment to the trading system, in the first week of January.
We strongly advise you to read this week's Development Diary before this newspost, so that you can fully understand why we have made these vitally important changes.
To remove real-world trading from RuneScape, we must stop the gold sellers' ability to function. We believe that the best and only way to do this will be to stop unbalanced trade.
We consider an unbalanced trade to be one that is not equivalent, with a trader receiving items that are much more valuable than those they are giving away. For example, a party hat traded for a bucket is quite obviously an unbalanced trade.
For a trade to be 'balanced', the total value of the items being given must be within 3,000gp of the items being received. For example you WOULD be allowed to trade an item worth 15,000gp for an item worth 17,000gp (because the DIFFERENCE is less than 3,000gp). You will be limited to a 3,000gp gain or loss every 15 minutes.
We are aware that many of you will want to prepare for this change. So, initially, we are just going to make the trade system WARN about unbalanced trades, but it will still allow the trade to go through. This seriously reduces any opportunities for scamming, but still gives you a chance to get used to how it works, organise your items, hand back borrowed stuff, and give Christmas presents. Then, in the first week of January, we will change it to simply not allow unbalanced trades outside of the 3,000gp limit. We will be reminding you when the January date approaches, so that you can be best prepared.
For certain categories of account (mostly new accounts) we are actually implementing the trade restriction immediately. This allows us to stop a large chunk of the cheating immediately, since most of the real world traders are using new accounts due to their previous ones being banned. For the vast majority of players, the trade restriction will come into effect in the first week of January.
We'd like to reassure you that we plan to keep a thriving player-trading economy. We are certainly NOT planning to remove trading from the game! It's only very unbalanced trades which will be affected. You won't be forced to use the Grand Exchange to trade either, although that will remain a superb means of buying or selling any of your items.
The 3,000gp rule means that you can still help each other out by offering cheaper items for free. We are certainly not going to stop you giving a Fishing rod or an antipoison potion to those who need it or, indeed, offering inflated amounts for items you want in a hurry, within the 3,000gp limit.
This shouldn't overly affect legitimate players, as the aim is to make sure there is no reason to NEED to do an unbalanced trade (more on how we have tried to ensure this below). It stops the real-world traders dead, as there is no way they can make delivery of purchased gold/items any more. Our aim is to make gold-selling so difficult that gold sellers and farmers are forced to leave RuneScape forever.
For more information on unbalanced trade, please read the Knowledge Base article.
Any real-world trader will respond to the removal of unbalanced trade by investigating ways round it. They will be looking for alternative ways to transfer gold other than trading. We are one step ahead, however, and have already researched every possible means for them to do so and amended them over the past few months.
We have previously adjusted the Duel Arena, Party Room, shops, etc. to prevent them being used to covertly transfer purchased gold.
One way of covertly transferring gold has not been mentioned yet, and we have addressed it this month. By dropping an item - through death or just discarding it - a real-world trader was able to make an unbalanced trade.
For the removal of unbalanced trade to be successful we must, therefore, change the way that player-dropped items work.
Discarded Item Changes
One way to fix it would be to make all discarded items invisible to other players. After all, a real-world trader would find it difficult to offer another player a stack of gold if their customer could not see it, let alone pick it up!
We've not gone quite that far. Instead, we have decided to just limit the visible amount. When you discard items by dropping them on the floor, they will only become visible to other players if their market value is less than 3,000 coins. Items with a market value less than this will become visible to other players after a delay (like before) - unless you've already reached your limit of 3,000 coins worth of items on the floor in a 15 minute period. This doesn't prevent you from discarding unwanted items or picking them up again; the change only restricts the ability of other players to see your discarded stuff.
There are no restrictions to how many items you can drop and how many of them are visible to you - this is only a change to the way your discarded items appear to other players.
Items Dropped on Death Changes
For the same reasons as mentioned above, we have made changes to how items are dropped on death.
When you die, (unless in the Bounty Hunter area - more on this later), you will leave a temporary gravestone behind. While the gravestone remains, your dropped items will not despawn, giving you a bit of time to run back and collect them. Other players will not be able to see or take items from your gravestone.
Your friends can make your gravestone remain for longer, either by repairing it when it starts to crumble or by expending Prayer points to bless it. Your stone can be maintained this way for up to a maximum of an hour. This will give you more time to return and pick up from where you left off.
Please read the Knowledge Base article to find out more about gravestones and how to purchase a variety of gravestone types.
As mentioned before, we have already released several updates that have paved the way for this change. We've tried really, really hard to make sure that for everything affected by this week's changes, we have provided a replacement means of doing the same thing, which is at least as good.
On the left-hand side of the table below, you can see those activities that have been affected by this week's updates. On the right, we show those recent updates that allow you to continue performing that activity.
| Popular activity || New way of performing activity
| Helping other players train their skills || Assist System
| Fighting other players to win their drops || Bounty Hunter
| Fighting other players to win money || Duel tournaments
| Fighting other players for fun and glory || Duel Arena is now free, and also Clan Wars
| Trading items with other players || Balanced trades OR the Grand Exchange
| Keeping an economy where the player determines the prices (based on supply and demand) || Grand Exchange
| Looking after the items of a friend who has died || Gravestones
| Sharing monster drops when fighting together || LootShare
| Having enough room to store stuff, instead of getting your friend to hold it for you || Extra bank space
| Hosting drop parties || Using the party room which we moved to the free world for this purpose
If there's anything you think that we've missed then please let us know on the Suggestions forum. We are confident we can stop the cheaters AND still create all of the types of gameplay you enjoy. It just requires a bit of creative thinking!