No monetary cost
Players are not required to pay, nor is there a cut-off period. Free-to-play now acts as a less substantial game to new players: some may find they do not enjoy the game, and are able to leave without losing money. In addition, others may use the free-to-play version to learn the basic skills of the game before buying membership or may even play as a free player without ever getting membership.
As restricted as the play is, players are able to devote more time to social or fun activities. That is, free players can relax, not feeling as if they are wasting in-game time (and the money spent in order to get this time) they could use to train, make money, or do quests. In addition, most quests or monsters in free-to-play are more moderate compared to members-only monsters and quests, allowing new players to easily and gradually get a handle on the game. Simpler play also means that there is less distraction in F2P than in P2P, allowing F2P players to more easily focus on their goal.
Easier daily challenges
Some daily challenges for free skills are considerably easier than those on the members version. For example, a free player with 80 mining would only have to mine seven adamantite ores instead of 250 gold ore from the concentrated gold rocks.
Greater sense of achievement
Because skills are generally easier to train in pay-to-play, some players consider getting a certain goal on the free version to be a more prominent achievement than getting it on a member's server. Players who have been F2P for long periods of time may see switching to P2P as "lowering the difficulty," and thus devaluing their achievement.
Less chance of death
Monsters in the free-to-play world are generally not as powerful as monsters found in member worlds. An example being dragons, of which only Elvarg, and more recently the green, blue and red dragons, and the King Black Dragon appears in the free-to-play world, while powerful and deadly dragons like black, bronze, iron, steel, mithril and frost dragons, and even the Queen Black Dragon dropping some of the most valued loot in the game can be found throughout the Wilderness and other areas in members-only worlds. Additionally, free players do not have to worry about contracting poison, which can potentially weaken members without them realising.
The Wilderness is also less dangerous as player killers have less powerful weapons, making escape easier.
Free-to-play is a good start for beginners as they won't be doing anything except learning how to play which is much easier to do in free-to-play. Also, because there aren't as many quests to choose from, Beginners will be able to make quicker decisions, therefore improving their character quicker.
There are numerous disadvantages, which Jagex has supposedly begun to address.
Smaller world area
The world which free players have access to is very small compared to what members have. Free players have access to 20% of Gielinor, whereas members have access to the entire world, including areas unlocked throughout their membership. Free players have access to Al Kharid, Ashdale, Barbarian Village, Burthorpe, Crandor, Daemonheim, Draynor Village, Edgeville, Falador, the Musa Point section of Karamja, Lumbridge, Port Sarim, Rimmington, Silvarea, Taverley, Varrock, and all levels of the Wilderness.
Most areas in the free-to-play worlds only contain a small portion of what is available, so many natural resources, such as logs, raw fish, and runes are only able to be produced at lower levels, thus meaning slower training and less money-making.
No Capes of Accomplishment
Free players can train skills to 99, but cannot buy any skill capes, which are only available to members. Thus free players are unable to display their mastery in a skill with clothing. There has been much debate on whether free players should be allowed to purchase skill capes or not. Some free players think that they deserve the skill capes more since getting 99 in a skill is much harder than members do. However, some members disapprove the idea of releasing skill capes to free players as they feel this should stay a member-only benefit. Some players feel that this offsets the 'greater sense of achievement' if free players go for 99 in a skill, since they get 'nothing' in return.
Limited access to skills
Free players can only train 17 of the 27 skills to level 99 (level 120 for Dungeoneering). Free players also have limited access to these skills. This generally slows down the ability of free players to increase their levels, thus inhibiting their enjoyment of the game through repetitive tasks of the same element, quickly losing the interest of potential skill trainers, affecting situation and reputation. Free players can have up to level 5 in members skills in F2P, excluding Invention.
Free players have access to just over a thousand items, whereas members have access to many thousands of others. In addition, many of the items members can access are more powerful, or armour set effects, are more valuable, or even a combination of all three. Members items in free worlds cannot be utilized or equipped until moved to a member’s server. The item(s) may still be banked, however.
Fewer minigames and fewer Distractions and Diversions
Free players have access to five minigames (Duel Arena, Clan Wars, Fist of Guthix, Great Orb Project, Cabbage Facepunch Bonanza) and have access to five Distractions and Diversions (Agoroth, Evil Tree, partial access to Giant Oyster, Goblin Raids, Shooting Star).
Fewer spells and abilities
There are far fewer magical spells and abilities available to cast, which limits the max damage which a player can deal and non-combat spells which can be cast. Free players also do not have access to certain teleports, i.e those that would take them to a members area, or the Lunar and Ancient spellbooks. Free players can only use spells up to Teleport Block at 85 Magic. Free players are unable to use some spells and abilities such as Entangle, Immortality, Snare and the Enchant bolt spell. Additionally, free players are unable to obtain abilities unlocked from members' content along with Metamorphosis and Berserk.
Less profit per hour
Free players have severely limited amount of methods to earn money compared to members. By definition, members have access to much more game content, activities, more areas, and more profitable ways to train their skills, whereas free players often find themselves crowded in mundane tasks and activities. This puts a strain on well-known free-to-play money-making opportunities, as free players may be forced to contend with crowded resource areas and are able to sell only a small fraction of the possible amount of goods available to members. Take mining coal for example: free players are limited to a few locations in which coal can be mined, and these locations are generally more crowded due to a large number of players competing for one mining site.
A member with high combat stats can also fight high-level bosses to earn millions of coins per hour, while a free player collecting wine of zamorak will only make 725,745 per hour at best. This shows the large difference in profit between F2P and P2P.
Examples of free-to-play money-making methods include mining runite ore, collecting wine of zamorak, superheating runite ore, and fletching headless arrows,simply takes alot more time and effort for simple tasks. For members, there is much more content: higher-cost items obtainable throughout PvP and minigames (i.e. Treasure Trails, Barrows), a greater variety of items for trading opportunities, easier skilling locations with shorter banking distances, such as the Catherby fishing spots compared to those at Musa Point. Members also have access to a truly massive array of monsters that drop various expensive items, such as Vorago and his seismic drops, the Kalphite King and its drygore drops, Nex with its Pernix, Virtus, and Torva armour drops, along with numerous Slayer monsters and the God Wars Dungeon bosses. Because of this, members can get a much higher average gold and exp gain per hour compared to F2P methods.
Less convenient banking
Free players are unable to use Agility shortcuts, such as the Grand Exchange tunnel and they are unable to restore energy as fast as members with members having more methods to restore run energy compared to only two for free players (energy potions and the Explorer's ring). Remember the faster and harder you can penetrate the better
Also, free players don't have any nearby banks in Musa Point (most free players will fish tuna, lobster or swordfish there) while members have convenient banking near fishing spots (such as Catherby and Fishing Guild for members who have 68 Fishing or above), and the only 'bank' near Musa Point is Stiles. While he is actually not a bank, Stiles can note players raw and cooked tunas, lobsters and swordfishes so they can continue fishing without returning to Port Sarim. The distance between him and the fishing spot is quite far away to balance the convenience.
Fewer and weaker equipment
Free players cannot use as many or as strong weapons and armour as members can. For example, the highest level armour free players can wear is corrupt dragon armour (armour and weapons of this last 30 minutes, at which point they crumble and disappear, so many prefer rune) but, also gravite weapons, albeit which takes a large amount of time to acquire and is costly to repair, while members have access to much more advanced equipment, such as dragon equipment, various types of dragonhide armour, chaotic equipment and Barrows equipment. This dramatically changes the battlefields for free players as they have less access to quick kills and weaker supplies for skill training, along with less kills per trip unlike members.
Free players do not have access to as many locations which allow for fast levelling of skills/combat. However, the free worlds are often less crowded. Also, for most skills, there are fewer methods that allow training.
For example, training Prayer on members is about 8 times faster (given the right resources, such as offering dragon bones to Ectofuntus or Glided altar, one can get 288 or 252 prayer xp per bones. However, free players can only have maximum of 180 prayer xp per bone, this is achieved by cremating dragon bones on a bonfire). Free players also do not get the full XP boosts during Bonus XP weekends, getting only a 1.2x modifier.
Fewer bank spaces/Grand Exchange slots
Free players have a 83-item maximum in their banks (103 if they have registered their email addresses, 603 if they have bought all Solomon's bank boosters), which is far less than the bank space that members receive, 468 as of December 2011 (571 if they have registered their email addresses, 1,271 if they have bought all Solomon's bank boosters and claimed their free ones). Additionally, members can store numerous items in their player-owned houses, such as random event costumes and various others, saving space on their bank load and making a nice retreat from normal game-play.
Free players only have three spaces for Grand Exchange offers whilst members have eight; this naturally makes it more difficult for free players to trade items via the Grand Exchange.
Members who have their membership expired will have their F2P and P2P items separated, making it easier to prevent members from dropping valuable P2P or sell items to get F2P items in the bank. (for example, 50/78 is F2P items, and 200/458 are member items)
Fewer music tracks
To unlock the Air Guitar emote you need to unlock 500 songs in the RuneScape music player, which can only be done by members. Currently about 400 or more songs are attainable in F2P in contrast to 1200 or more (and slowly increasing with additional updates) in P2P. However, former members who have less than 500 songs can still achieve Air Guitar if they haven't completed the free version of Daemonheim, which has enough tracks to get a character with about 460 tracks unlocked to 500 tracks unlocked, though this really only works if the tracks unlocked is 460 or higher. Each room type of Daemonheim has 10 regular tracks, and there are 4 or 5 room types available on Free-Play, thus 40-50 music tracks unlocked in Daemonheim non-boss rooms.
Although there are 35 free quests, free quests are released very rarely - the last free quest released was Gower Quest, on 20 June 2016. In contrast to this, members get several quests a year. During a holiday event, a holiday related quest may temporarily be available for free players until the event is over. Due to update on 24 June 2010, however 2 holiday quests (Myths of the White Lands, and Swept Away) are now permanently returned to free players.
Also, Jagex may make sure they will remove a F2P quest before they release one new (this is known in the replacement of Romeo and Juliet to Gunnar's Ground, also the replacement of Doric's Quest to What's Mine is Yours). This is no longer the case, since four new quests (Death Plateau, Druidic Ritual, Let Them Eat Pie, Wolf Whistle) made their appearance in the free game on 4 March 2013.
Free players could not sort their quest list to Progress or Difficulty like members would do; should the only options available be Free/Members. However, that has since been changed. Free players can now sort using Progress or Difficulty as well.
The free-to-play game is not updated as frequently as the greater pay-to-play game. There have been extremely few new free-to-play quests or areas released since the launch of the pay-to-play version of RuneScape (the exceptions listed above). Generally, the only updates which affect free players are hidden updates, interface, music, graphic updates, and consistent additions of free-to-play servers. Usually, the only other updates involve the security and safety of players' accounts. Holiday items and other items are released after updates during Hallowe'en, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and April Fool's Day for free players. Free players have access to all of these items with the exception being the wintumber tree that was released in conjunction with the Reindeer hat during Christmas 2006, the icicle crown, which was released during Easter 2011, and the hourglass, which was released during the 2011 Hallowe'en Event. Jagex has also released two members-only pets as Holiday Event rewards, Mackers the turkey, from Thanksgiving 2011, and Sparkles the tinsel snake, from Christmas 2011. Recently, Mod MMG has revealed that Jagex plans to release F2P updates more regularly. After this the Dungeoneering skill was soon added to the game, he had kept his word, but some people are not sure whether or not F2P will be included in any major updates any time soon. As well as this, Free trade was added back into the game and staking has been upped to a 40k limit.
The change about updates in F2P occurred as MMG stated. Free game recently received new training methods (e.g. bonfires, Runespan), quest reworks (e.g. Rune Mysteries, The Death of Chivalry) and major game changes (e.g. Dungeoneering, Evolution of Combat).
Prior to adverts being removed completely from F2P on 20 June 2016, they were considered intrusive and annoying by many players. Some Adobe Flash-based ads were even known to cause performance issues. It was against the rules to run ad-blockers.
Due in part to the easiness of creating an account without having to pay money, free-to-play is prone to contain more scammers and general rule-breakers. Most notable of these are the macro users: players using programmes to repeat specific tasks. This is especially common at areas containing runite ore rocks. For this reason, care should be taken around suspicious players in free worlds.Watch out as RSBOTS are picked up very easily if you are not careful, even then you may find your account banned after weeks of botting
Macros (also called botters or bots), are accounts which run off of a script to repeat various tasks such as cutting yew logs or fishing lobsters. They are not controlled by a player, meaning it is possible for one botting account to stay logged in hours on end, through the day and night. Because free-to-play is free, the accounts who do use macros have no worries other than being banned, but due to the simplicity of making a free account, a new macro can be put in its place almost instantly. Macroers hoard resources, lower prices, and flood the market with raw materials, making it harder for honest players to gain money and to train. While some people argue that the lowered cost of raw materials keeps training a skill cheaper, but reduces the profit (Runescape have now banned bots from the game completely through legal processes). However, due to an update by Jagex, all newly made accounts must be registered to an e-mail address, and only one single account may be created per e-mail address. This has helped to stem the flow of bots. Macroers also appear in member worlds, although less often, due to the fact they dont wont too waste money. Botting can be profitable although usually found out and full account lost.
There is now a trade limit in which new players can not make a trade where they give away more than 25,000 coins. This was introduced on 22 November 2011 to combat real-world trading. The limit only affects accounts created after this limit was introduced, which have never had membership. The trade limit is however flawed because if you die in dangerous clan wars, you will still lose your items and the other player will get all of your items.
Because free players do not have to pay to play the game, a variety of players may have somewhat of a carefree attitude towards other players and towards Jagex. They may feel that since they do not pay for anything, they do not lose any money if their account is muted or banned.
Some members dislike the free-to-play game because of its lack of content compared to the massive amount of members content. Sometimes members players will log in to crowded free-to-play worlds with their members-only gear to show off. On occasion, players doing this may be looking to scam or trick newer players.
- Free players cannot post in official Jagex forums unless their total experience exceeds the 2.5 million or their total skill level is over 350.
- Free players can only vote in certain polls, both on the RuneScape website and in-game through Power to the Players.
No Access to RSC
Jagex has changed access to RuneScape Classic making it members-only even for long standing free-to-play accounts that existed during classic. However, if a F2P account was made after the re-release of Runescape Classic, then this account can be logged into in Runescape Classic with no problem (even if membership is needed to play the game).
No Membership Loyalty Programme
Free players cannot get rewards from the Membership Loyalty Programme, such as Auras or titles. However, former members can active titles from the Membership Loyalty Programme section of Solomon's General Store on free worlds.
Treasure Hunter limitations
Free players can only use one daily key, whereas members get two daily keys. Also, most of the rewards are members only, and certain members only rewards cannot be claimed or converted into coins on free-to-play worlds. As a result, earned keys also seem wasted. Also, free players would probably not want to buy Treasure Hunter keys, and it's not recommended for them to do so anyway because of their limitations.