RuneScape Shuts Down RuneLabs
RuneLabs, the system that Jagex released in 2015 to collect ideas for new game content, will be shut down indefinitely in just over a week.
The RuneLabs portion of the site allowed RuneScape players to suggest ideas, and to provide a forum to have those ideas critiqued and/or supported by other players. This was a unique experiment for a game developer, to leave the direction of the game in the hands of the players, and to provide guaranteed content based on what the players wanted the most. RuneLabs was the source of popular upcoming or recent game content such as Rune and Adamant Dragons, The Eastern Lands, the slayer belt and farming timer, Within The Light, and the most recent free-player quest Beneath Cursed Tides which saw the return of Tutorial Island.
The RuneLabs portion of the website is currently collecting big ideas for 2017. Leading ideas include a focus on the Kharidian Desert, a Construction rework, or a huge Farming update with player-owned-farms and a farming guild. If you have better ideas for content to be added to the game in 2017, head over to RuneLabs now, as it is your last chance before RuneLabs meets an untimely fate, having not even survived for a full year-and-a-half.
After RuneLabs is shut down later this month, all links to RuneLabs from the RuneScape site will be removed, Jagex will make no new criteria for RuneLabs suggestions, and it will be impossible for players to support any RuneLabs ideas. So while you will still technically be able to submit new ideas to RuneLabs, using the system will be entirely pointless.
The reasoning that Jagex provided for shutting down RuneLabs is that “ultimately RuneLabs did not achieve what we hoped it would.” Apparently, the percentage of people who actually used RuneLabs was too small to justify its continuation. However, in my opinion, this isn’t due to lack of player interest as much as poor design. From the beginning, the implementation of RuneLabs was a disaster. At launch, players were frustrated that RuneLabs was missing several functions, including a simple search or any ability to give constructive feedback using the system.
Many speculated, with good reason, that these limitations were intentional. While Jagex was very open-minded and progressive with the concept of giving “Power to the Players”, they didn’t want players to be TOO powerful. No game developer wants to completely give away their power to have the final say. A larger reason for the demise of Runelabs might be an overall fatigue from Jagex over being able to have complete control over a direction for the future of the game. RuneScape is a game that has survived for 15 years, and while most in the general gaming community are surprised to hear that it has even gotten this far, the developers at Jagex have their eyes set to last 15 more.