I haven’t seriously played Runescape in almost ten years, but one of the first posts I ever made to this blog, An Optimal Runescape Staking Build, remains the most popular article here. It was haphazardly assembled and I never had the time to clean it up or bring the simulator I created to its logical conclusion. Unfortunately, today, there were major changes made to the Duel Arena in Old School Runescape. Odds staking is no longer possible.
When I wrote the article about optimal staking builds, I had no idea how popular the Duel Arena was or how popular it would continue to be. Odds staking was obviously not a new concept, but it didn’t seem like there were well-defined standards for staking between accounts that didn’t have identical stats. I saw this as a massive opportunity.
In retrospect, I should have just spent the time and money to find a nearly-maxed account build that had a slight edge. Because I was right. Into 2017, I first became aware of “odds staking accounts” being created to exploit theoretical edge over hundreds of wagers. As time went on I realized that, even if I didn’t feel like doing the exhaustive simulation, all I had to do was created a staking odds calculator like this one and used it to only accept stakes (against similar but not identical accounts) in which I had a slight edge (despite not having an optimal account). Something I realized early on but never executed–there was a market of people that gladly would have purchased such a calculator for their personal use.
Working in the trading industry and reading the books I have, I now realize that my thought process was slightly ahead of the curve. My original research probably helped or at least inspired people with competent programming skills to create the optimal account builds that I theorized about. I should have just followed through with it, but I suppose that doesn’t matter now.
The Duel Arena in Runescape was changed after today’s update because, when you hold enough variables constant, it removed most skill from the equation and was indistinguishable from gambling. It had become a place where real-world trading (rwt), which is against the rules, was prevalent both among players who had been “cleaned” (lost everything) and those who had won vast sums of money. Some of my childhood friends, who I later learned were still playing, were among the former group.
In this arrangement, nobody won aside from those operating illegal real-world trading operations. The spirit of the game was lost. Gambling can quickly become an addiction and even the most popular players who post videos on Youtube lost significant amounts of in-game wealth while their fans grew tired of observing boring gameplay where the equivalent of over $1000 USD might have been on the line. Yes, even huge amounts of money changing hands eventually made for bad content. Fans want to watch creators participate in games of skill, not games of random chance.
The currently accepted exchange rate of USD to Runescape’s gold pieces is $.80 per 1,000,000GP. To put this in perspective, Runescape often had several hundred people staking simultaneously in matches lasting no longer than a minute. Viewing videos from the last several years, stakes as low as 1,000,000GP exist, but most duels have been occurring in the 10-200M range. Constantly, there were stakes occurring simultaneously for hundreds to thousands of US Dollars. All day, every day. I would estimate that the equivalent of $100,000 USD was wagered on a daily basis inside Runescape.
As a result of the update, all stakes are taxed. Items can no longer be staked and all stakes must be within 10,000gp (a trivial sum) of each other. Maybe people will find new ways to gamble, but it seems that the Duel Arena has lost its use as a casino. The only thing that bothers me is that real-world trading being used as a justification behind updates is what ruined the “Old School” game when originally announced on December 10th, 2007. Overall, I think it’s good news. I’m happy to tie off this series of posts and to see a game that I enjoyed so much as a kid continuing to evolve.