Why is OSRS more popular than RS3? – Old School vs. Modern Gameplay

RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed and published by Jagex. Since its release in January 2001, RuneScape has evolved into two main versions: Old School RuneScape (OSRS), a version dating from August 2007, and RuneScape 3 (RS3), released in July 2013.

While both versions have their unique appeal, OSRS has consistently enjoyed higher popularity. This paper aims to explore the factors contributing to OSRS’s higher popularity over RS3.

Nostalgia and Player Base 🏰

OSRS’s appeal lies significantly in its nostalgic value. It represents a snapshot of the game as it was in 2007, attracting players who yearn for the original experience.

OSRS has managed to retain a substantial portion of the player base from the early days. The familiarity and loyalty to the original version have kept many players engaged.

On the other hand, RS3’s frequent updates and changes have alienated some old players. The constant evolution of the game has led to a disconnect with those who preferred the original mechanics and aesthetics.

Metric OSRS RS3
Active daily players 1.6 million 5,515
Peak player count (Steam) 1,325 4,623
7-day High (Google Trends) 116,808 32,331
7-day Low (Google Trends) 58,404 19,812

Simplicity and Accessibility 📺

OSRS is known for its simpler and more straightforward gameplay style. The lack of complexity in mechanics and design appeals to players who prefer a more traditional MMORPG experience

The learning curve in OSRS is generally considered more approachable compared to RS3. New players often find it easier to grasp the basics in OSRS, while RS3’s multifaceted features may require a steeper learning curve.

RS3’s complexity, while attractive to some, may be intimidating to newcomers. The abundance of features, updates, and modernized graphics might overwhelm players who are new to the game or those who prefer a more classic gaming experience.

Community and Player Interaction 👥

The community in OSRS is often cited as one of its strongest aspects. Players engage in cooperative activities, share strategies, and form bonds that extend beyond the game. The sense of camaraderie in OSRS is palpable and contributes to its enduring appeal.

OSRS’s player-driven content and voting system empower players to have a say in the game’s development. Proposed changes and updates are often put to a community vote, ensuring that the game evolves in a direction that resonates with the majority of players.

In contrast, RS3 has a more significant focus on solo content, which may have affected the social aspect of the game. While there are still community interactions, the emphasis on individual achievements and solo play may have diminished the sense of community compared to OSRS.

Player Comments

Quotes from OSRS Players:

  1. On Appreciating RS3: “A couple of years back this was the case but now most of the osrs community can appreciate the good parts of RS3 game… I think the current time is the ‘friendliest’ the two communities have been in years.” – Source: long-standing active OSRS player trying RS3
  2. On Enjoying Both Versions: “I definitely believe since I’ve grinded osrs since the release, I have a bigger appreciation for RS3. The quality of life updates, plethora of content, storyline for quests, so many bosses, etc. it’s definitely a breath of fresh air.” – OSRS player
  3. On Playing Both Simultaneously: “That’s why I play both at the same time. Afk elf city thieving and stacking clues while wcing on osrs and watching Netflix.” – Player enjoying both versions

Quotes from RS3 Players:

  1. On Returning to RS3: “I used to play rs years ago and it was a friggin grind! I came back on rs3 since covid and I personally think it’s so easy and fast to level up now… I like the game. Like you said each game suites different lifestyles and different people.” – Returning RS3 player
  2. On RS3 Being Stress-Free: “Kind of true but also… So what. Lol. I loved OSRS when it was just RS. I came back to RS3 and it’s so much more stress-free. It’s nice to enjoy end game content without waiting years without no-lifing a skill.” – Player enjoying RS3’s accessibility
  3. On RS3’s Grind: “Rs3 is way more grindy than osrs…. There’s just different grinds. Instead of 99, its 120. It boss pets and skill pets. Or comp cape or trimmed. The billion quests. Or a million other things that take years.” – Player discussing RS3’s grind

Graphics and Art Style 🌆

OSRS’s graphics are reminiscent of the early days of MMORPGs, with simple textures and models. RS3, on the other hand, boasts high-definition graphics, detailed character models, and immersive environments.

The retro graphics in OSRS have a unique charm that appeals to many players. The nostalgic art style connects with those who played the game in its early years and those who appreciate a more classic aesthetic.

While RS3’s high-definition graphics are technologically impressive, they may not resonate with all players. Some find the modernized visuals less appealing, preferring the simplicity and nostalgia of OSRS’s design.

Aspect OSRS RS3
Graphics Style Retro, Simple High-Definition, Detailed
Appeal Nostalgic, Classic Modern, Technologically Advanced
Resonance with Players Strong connection with original players Mixed reactions, may not resonate with all

Player-Driven Economy 📈

The Grand Exchange, a trading system present in both versions, has a profound impact on the in-game economy. It facilitates buying and selling between players, shaping the market dynamics in both OSRS and RS3.

The economies of OSRS and RS3 differ in several ways, from item values to trading behaviors. OSRS’s economy is often seen as more stable, while RS3’s is more dynamic and influenced by various factors.

RS3’s introduction of microtransactions has significantly influenced its in-game economy. The ability to purchase in-game currency and items with real money has led to concerns about balance and fairness, contrasting with OSRS’s more traditional economic model.

Game Development Direction📜

OSRS and RS3 follow different development philosophies. OSRS prioritizes nostalgia, community input, and simplicity, while RS3 focuses on innovation, modernization, and individual gameplay experiences.

Jagex’s involvement in both versions has shaped their direction and growth. The company’s commitment to community engagement in OSRS and technological advancement in RS3 reflects the distinct identities of the two games.

OSRS’s focus on nostalgia attracts players seeking a classic experience. The preservation of the game’s original mechanics and aesthetics resonates with those who value tradition and the memories associated with the early days of RuneScape.

Aspect OSRS RS3
Development Philosophy Nostalgia, Simplicity Innovation, Modernization
Community Engagement Strong, Player-driven content Focus on individual gameplay
Focus Classic Experience Technological Advancement

Longevity and Sustainability 🏆

OSRS’s continuous growth in popularity and its adherence to the original game’s principles have contributed to its longevity. The game’s ability to retain and attract players ensures its sustained relevance in the gaming landscape.

RS3 has seen a decline in its player base over time. The focus on modernization and frequent changes may have contributed to this trend, raising questions about its long-term sustainability.

Both OSRS and RS3 have unique challenges and opportunities that will shape their future sustainability. While OSRS thrives on nostalgia and community, RS3’s innovation and complexity offer a different appeal. The balance between these elements will be crucial for the continued success of both versions.


Why is OSRS more popular than RS3?

OSRS’s popularity stems from its nostalgic value, simpler gameplay, strong community, and player-driven content. RS3’s focus on modernization and complexity may not resonate with all players.

How do the graphics differ between OSRS and RS3?

OSRS features retro graphics reminiscent of early MMORPGs, while RS3 offers high-definition visuals and detailed environments.

What are the main differences in the economies of OSRS and RS3?

OSRS’s economy is generally more stable, with RS3’s being more dynamic and influenced by microtransactions.


The popularity of OSRS over RS3 is a multifaceted phenomenon rooted in nostalgia, simplicity, community interaction, graphics, economy, development direction, and sustainability. Understanding these factors provides insights into player preferences and the evolving dynamics of online gaming.

OSRS’s appeal lies in its connection to the past, its straightforward gameplay, and its strong sense of community. RS3, with its modern graphics and complex mechanics, offers a different experience that may not resonate with all players.

The future of both versions depends on the delicate balance between innovation and tradition, complexity and accessibility, community engagement, and individual achievement. The ongoing dialogue between developers and players, the adaptability to changing gaming landscapes, and the recognition of the unique identities of OSRS and RS3 will shape their continued success.

In the world of RuneScape, the choice between OSRS and RS3 is more than a matter of personal preference; it’s a reflection of broader gaming trends and a testament to the enduring appeal of virtual worlds that can adapt, evolve, and resonate with players across generations.