On January 17, 2011, it was announced that both free trade and the original (dating back a few years) wilderness and free trade will return. After an initial vote, a referendum was put in place where over 1.2 Million(91% of those who voted) Runescape players voted for the return of Free Trade and the Wilderness (the post is here on Runescape.com). You can see the Previously, these aspects of the game had been taken away because of a large amount of Real World Trading, Botting, and Scamming. Jagex has said that they have now developed tools that will help prevent these things, allowing Free Trade and Wilderness to Return.
Both the Wilderness and Free Trade are planning to be restored in all of their former glory on the 1st of February, 2011. This means that both PvP and Bounty Hunter will currently be eliminated from game play. Being restored are unlimited staking at the duel arena, unlimited drop parties, completely limitless trade between players (except for un-tradeable items of course) and the former wilderness. This will be the biggest change in game play since the opposite happened happened and these features were taken away a few years ago.
For the first vote on whether or not to bring back free trade and the wilderness, all you needed to do was to put down a user name to vote. This aroused much anger in the Runescape community because it seemed like a publicity stunt of some kind, because anybody could vote for anybody else, as long as they had their user name. Jagex responded however, by coming out with a real vote where you could only vote with your own accounts, dismissing much of the anger. There are still many players, however that are unhappy with the way Jagex handled the return of the Wilderness and Free Trade.
Bots and Real World Trading:
Previously, it was said that the reason free trade has been taken away was the large amounts of Real World Trading and Botting taking places in the game, both of which were against the rules. Jagex now says that they have developed many strong tools to combat this threat, although they will not give any information on these tools for obvious reasons. They have said that they will easily be able to distinguish between players who are giving their friends a large amount of in-game money and players who have bought a large amount of in-game money.
In the end, the response to this announcement was extremely positive. Since it’s demise, people have been ranting and raving for Free Trade and the Wilderness’ return. Grand Exchange prices for most PKing items, such as rune scimitars and strength potions, have already started to skyrocket in anticipation for the release. The big update on February 1st, 2011 is sure to bring in an unprecedented amount of traffic to the Runescape website, with many players returning to the game for the sole reason of playing in the Wilderness.