What just happened? Old School Runescape has always maintained a decent-sized player base thanks to its developers' hard work (they regularly create fresh content). However, over the weekend, the game exploded in popularity, pulling in over 170,000 players at its peak. For reference, Old School Runescape typically maintains anywhere between 60,000 and 90,000 concurrent players, with the occasional spike following major updates.
It's a wonder the game's servers even managed to keep up with such a massive influx of players. Those who aren't familiar with Old School Runescape might wonder why on earth a six-year-old game -- itself a rebooted version of Runescape 2007 state -- is suddenly enjoying this newfound success.
The short answer is easy: it's all thanks to the launch of Old School Runescape's "Leagues II: Trailblazer" event. Leagues, for those who aren't aware, are in-game events in which players create new "Ironman" accounts (accounts that must be fully self-sufficient: they can't trade with other players) in special event-specific servers. In these servers, players start with basic, level-one characters and are restricted to only a few specific regions of OSRS' game world.
In the first Leagues event, players were limited to Great Kourend and the Kebos Lowlands. In this league, players are forced to stay within the kingdom of Misthalin but can unlock additional areas by completing various in-game tasks.
Players level their skills at a rate of 5x, and as before, they cannot trade with other players.
The more event-specific tasks players complete -- which range in difficulty from Easy to Medium and Hard all the way to Master -- the more League Points they will earn, which determine their place in the leaderboard. These Points can also be spent on "relics," which give your character powerful passive buffs, including experience boosts, drop rate boosts, faster resource gathering speeds, and more.
THERES 170K PPL ONLINE WTF DUDE— Settled (@SettledRS) November 1, 2020
I remember jumping on the game in 2006 and seeing 200k+ players online, to think 14 years later those numbers are still possible for this game is WILD pic.twitter.com/apIJf49c6q
It seems all of this unique content is exciting enough that almost 200,000 players want in on the action. Since Leagues are members-only content (free-to-play players can't log in to League servers), that also means the game's developers, Jagex, are likely enjoying quite the revenue boost at the moment.
Personally, I've been an avid fan of Runescape for around 15 years, and I can't wait to try out the new League content for myself. If you want to give it a try, too, swing on by the Old School Runescape website and sign up for an account. Old School Runescape is available on desktop and mobile, so you can still progress while on the go.
To access Leagues specifically, you'll need to buy at least one month of membership, which will run you about $11.