Runescape players decrying cash-hungry Fresh Start update look at Old School in envy

(Image credit: Jagex)

Runescape players are in near unanimous agreement that the upcoming Fresh Start Worlds update is a little too cash-hungry, and they're all looking at Old School Runescape's version of the update with envy.

In case you missed the initial announcement, the whole Fresh Start Worlds initiative is purportedly designed to entice new and "lapsed" players by giving them an even playing field. Starting September 12, Runescape players will have access to Fresh Start Worlds servers which will offer boosted XP and drop rates, rare and unique rewards – and the usual suite of microtransactions offering demonstrable power advantages. Existing Runescape subscribers will also need to shell out for an additional membership to access most of those benefits, some of which can be traded back to the main game.

That sounds a lot like pay-to-win shenanigans to many in the community. While it seems like a decent enough deal to new players looking to get up to speed efficiently, it's essentially a separate, paywalled mode to existing players who might be incentivized by exclusive items. Redditor Aviarn drew up a list of their biggest sticking points with the update, and needless to say, many folks aren't happy with Fresh Start Worlds the way it's currently billed.

As for Old School Runescape, Fresh Start Worlds isn't exactly a hit with players, but there are some noteworthy differences compared to the main Runescape version. You'll still need a new account with its own subscription to access everything in the game, but OSRS does have a free version, plus its Fresh Start Worlds don't offer any XP or drop rate boosts, nor do they have exclusive items like the modern Runescape version. OSRS has also continued to dodge the microtransactions that clutter mainline Runescape. Essentially, this is the same exact game but with a fresh economy and high scores, and it's only accessible to new accounts. 

For many, the Old School Runescape envy is real:

fresh_start_words_rs3_vs_osrs from r/2007scape

One Redditor went as far as to claim Runescape studio Jagex "doesn't care about existing players," prompting an impassioned response from lead game designer Mod Jack, who argued that their words were taken out of context. The developer also made pleas for more civil discussion around the game's updates, explaining that particularly "nasty" reactions discourage the developers from engaging with the community online.

"Worst of all, I'm on holiday today," reads the developer's reply. "I could have just switched off social media and ignored everything completely. As I said above though, I do care about the game and its players, and I can't switch off that way. When something is going down, I want to know what's happening."

"It would have been much wiser for me to stay off social media and say nothing. Now probably that won't happen because it's like a red rag to a bull with me, but most of my colleagues are wiser than I am. Whenever there's any sort of controversy on Reddit, there are a lot of posts asking 'why don't the [Jagex mods] respond to this stuff?' and... this is why."

Jagex has yet to comment on the reaction to Fresh Start Worlds more officially, but here's hoping a solution is found that agrees with both the community and the developers.

Find out where Runescape ranks on our list of the best MMOs to play in 2022.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.