Also see members.
Free-to-play, also known as F2P, is the free version of RuneScape where no annually/monthly payment is needed. Players who play the free version are known as "free players", "F2Ps", or "non-members". This is in contrast to members, who pay a monthly fee for access to a much larger map and a multitude of skills, items, quests and minigames.
The free part of RuneScape is described by Jagex as being the game with close to 2,000 hours of skills to train to reach the maximum level of 99, while members is considered the expansion version. There is no limit to the amount of time players are able to continue playing for free, although free players are only able to enjoy about 20% of everything RuneScape has to offer. Free players can upgrade and become a member at any time by paying a monthly fee, granting access to more skills, locations, items, etc. Free-to-play is recommended if one plays RuneScape less than two days a week. Formerly, the free-to-play version of RuneScape was its only form, prior to the introduction of members and the subsequent creation of RuneScape 2. The pay-to-play servers were intended by Jagex to benefit all of the RuneScape community.
With respect to gameplay, the majority of new updates within RuneScape are restricted to pay-to-play members with the exception of updates concerning graphics or the addition of new servers or the project1 weapons update with all the scimitars, 2h swords and swords and different combat attacks. The free version of RuneScape has remained essentially unchanged since the introduction of members' servers and RuneScape HD. The free-to-play community has received a small number of gameplay additions that fall outside of those areas, however, including (but not limited to):
This is in contrast with the constant updates concerning members, however.
With the removal of full PvP in the Wilderness, there has been a boost in F2P updates including: Duel Arena (Al Kharid), Bounty Hunter (Wilderness - PK replacement), Clan Wars (Wilderness - PK replacement), and Fist of Guthix. This boost is a reaction due to the increase in the number of players leaving because of the removal of full PvP in the Wilderness.
In addition to the differences described above, the majority of outside-of-game features (such as the official RuneScape forums) are open to members only, but also to F2P players with at least 12.5 million experience. Jagex has also changed access to RuneScape Classic, making it members-only.
Listed below are some of the advantages non-members have over members.
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, F2P players are not pressured by the fact that they will lose all of their member-only skills and items if they fail to make the monthly payment. Also others may use the free-to-play version to learn the basic skills of the game before launching themselves into 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 exigent members-only monsters and quests, allowing new players to easily and gradually get a handle on the game.
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 members.
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 one (Elvarg) appears anywhere in the free-to-play world, while powerful and deadly dragons like green, blue, red, black, bronze, iron, steel, and mithril dragons and even the King 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 taking poison or disease, which can occasionally weaken or even kill P2P players without them realising.
Despite the advantages of free play, there are numerous disadvantages, which Jagex has only started to fix in recent history. However, one cannot expect free players to ever have the exact same abilities as members.
The world which free players have access to is very small compared to what members maintain. Free players have access to 30% of RuneScape, whereas members have access to the entire world, including areas unlocked throughout their membership. Free players only have access to Varrock, Rimmington, Falador, Draynor Village, Al Kharid, Edgeville, Lumbridge, Karamja, Bandit Camp (Wilderness), Port Sarim, Wilderness, Barbarian Village, Musa Point and Crandor.
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.
As there is limited diversity within the F2P version of Runescape, the economy is also slightly bottlenecked in the sense that less supply is being generated into the economy while demand is heavily placed.
Free players can only train 15 of the 24 skills. Free players also have limited access to these skills. For example, free players cannot cut maple trees, whereas members can (although maple logs can be still be bought and burned in free-to-play servers). 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. However, Mod MMG has confirmed that a future skill will become available for free players as well as members.
You could train Thieving in 2001 as F2P. Some people that never have been P2P still got Thieving higher then level 1.
Free players have access to less than 1,000 items, whereas members have access to thousands of others. In addition, many of the items members can access are more powerful, have unique abilities like specials or barrows effects, are more valuable, or a combination of all three. Members items in free worlds are shown as "Members objects" and cannot be traded or wielded until moved to a member’s server.
Free players cannot use as many weapons or as much armour as members can. For example, the highest armour free players can wear is Corrupt dragon armour, while members have access to more advanced equipment, such as Dragon armour and Barrows equipment. This dramatically changes the battlefields for free players as they have less access to quick kills (i.e. poison and ancient spells) and weaker supplies for skill training.
Free players do not have access to as many locations which allow for fast levelling of skills/combat. In addition, the free worlds are often crowded, and players often have more competition for monster and item respawns. Also, for most skills, there are fewer methods that allow training. For example, training prayer on members is about 20 times faster (given the right resources).
Free players have a 68-item maximum in their banks, which is far less than the bank space that members receive, 496 as of 24 July 2009. Additionally, members can store numerous items in their player-owned houses, saving space on their bank load and making a nice retreat from normal game-play.
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 168 songs are attainable in F2P in contrast to 630 (and slowly increasing with additional updates) in P2P.
Although there are 19 free quests, free quests are released very rarely - the last free quest released other than the current tutorial quest, Unstable Foundations, was Rune Mysteries, in December 2003. Members get an average of 1-2 quests every month. During a holiday event, a holiday related quest may temporarily be available for free players until the event is over, at which the quest will become members only.
A free player's maximum trade limit is 40,000 gp every fifteen minutes, whereas the maximum trade limit for members is 240,000 gp every fifteen minutes.
Free players have only limited amount of methods to earn money. Members have access to much more areas to train their skills, whereas free players often find themselves crowded together. An example of this is lobster fishing. In the F2P world, there are only two spots to find lobsters, both requiring a long time to get to a bank. In a Members' world, players will not have this problem as there are a few more lobster fishing spots, and they are closer to a bank.
Members' servers allow much variation between each combat class. F2P is greatly warrior-based. Rangers do not have access to rune ammunition nor crossbows (except for the regular crossbow and the Phoenix crossbow). Mages have very little damage potential in free-to-play (a maximum hit of 16) and the only other non-damage spell used in combat are Bind and limited curse spells. This allows less variation in the battlefield and gives F2P players a better option of picking Melee rather than the others.
The free game is very rarely updated. 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 non-members are interface, music, graphics 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 Halloween, 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. Recently, Mod MMG has revealed that Jagex plan to release F2P updates more regularly. He also revealed there will be a "headline" update for F2P in the future.
The free game also has large advertisements across the top of the page above the Java player. While the majority of these are not exceedingly irritating, some of the ads flash and have annoying sounds that cannot be turned off. Some ads expand and can cover most of the screen if the cursor is accidentally moved over the ad, making it harder to focus on the game. Others have a quality so high that it slows down some computers. The ads can also cause a problem as far as spyware is concerned and some anti-spyware programs often flag the RuneScape ad cookies for deletion, sometimes trying to block the RuneScape ad server, which is a violation of the rule that forbids ad blockers. To prevent crazy overrides with these ads and their capability of lagging the player’s game play, you can right-click the ad, turn the repetitive actions off, and zoom in on a black area to create an appearance of having no ad. In order to reduce the impact on performance by an advert, it can be right-clicked and "Low" selected under the "Quality" sub-menu, however this will only work on Flash-based adverts. Another way to minimize offensive advertisements is to use the "Text Size" feature on most browsers, and hold "CTRL" while scrolling down with the mouse scroll-wheel. Usually these tactics are not needed as most advertisements shown are polite.
Also, it is possible to eliminate ads altogether by disabling both images and Flash, but this will break other web sites and it could possibly still get you banned because it is debatable whether or not that is "ad blocking". However, many people would argue that it is illegal for JaGeX (or any company) to force people to install Flash or certain image codecs when they are not required for operation of the actual game, and some people may not even be allowed to install these programs because of legal reasons, such as a court ruling.
Due in part to the larger crowds and the easiness of creating an account, free-to-play is prone to contain more scammers and general rule-breakers. Most notable of these are the macro users: players using programs to repeat specific tasks. This is especially common at areas containing Yew trees. Most scammers make accounts with long or hard to remember user names (i.e. a combination of letters and numbers from different parts of the keyboard). So that if the player scams someone, the scammed player would not remember the username to report. Care should be taken around suspicious players in free worlds, for this reason. (However, due to the Update:Trade and Drop Changes update, macroer numbers have been severely reduced and do not pose as much a threat; and with trade restrictions, scammers have become much less common.)
Because free players do not have to pay to play the game, many players have somewhat of a care-free attitude towards other players and towards Jagex. Since they don't pay for anything, they don't lose any money if their account gets banned or muted. Members however tend to be better behaved as they paid to play the game and they do not want to get banned or muted.
On the other hand, members tend to be more arrogant and it's sometimes harder to make friends in P2P than in the free version of the game. Also P2P players often log into free-worlds (usually Lumbridge or crowded areas as Varrock) with their members equipment and weaponry for the sole purpose of showing off their wealth and/or fashion.
Note that this is a generalization, as not all of the F2P players adopt care-free attitudes, and not all P2P players are arrogant.