RuneScape is a Medieval European Fantasy MMORPG by the UK-based developer Jagex Games Studio that is available on PC, Android and iPhone, and runs on a Freemium subscription model. The free version of the game is self-contained and can be played on its own, but subscribers gain access to separate Member servers with more content in exchange for a monthly fee. The game holds the official Guinness World Record for largest free MMORPG, with over 250 million registered accounts since its initial release.
Gameplay primarily involves quests, combat (both Player Versus Player and Player Versus Environment), and Level Grinding, along with a variety of side activities like Capture the Flag. RuneScape is somewhat uncommon among MMORPGs in that its quests are more elaborate than your basic 20 Bear Asses Fetch Quests, instead focusing more on plot, puzzles, problem-solving, and Boss Battles. New content, usually (but not always) members-only, is released on a weekly basis.
The game was originally released in January 2001 (retroactively named RuneScape Classic) in what would now be considered a very primitive form. The full world was much smaller, containing only a few small cities. There were only six quests, one server, and two developers. Classic ran for 17 years before being shut down forever in August 2018, although for the last few years was restricted to subscribing members who had logged in during its limited re-opening periods. It gradually expanded until 2004, when the whole game was overhauled completely: changes were made to the game engine, the graphics, the basic game mechanics, and the content and was released as RuneScape 2. Then, in July of 2013, Jagex released a number of major updates to the game under the name RuneScape 3, including improved audio and a new, customizable interface and kicking off the first in a series of game-wide World Events. In the same year Jagex rereleased RuneScape 2, circa 2007, as Old School RuneScape, with its own small dev team and player polled updates.
Although the offical names for the two versions of the game are RuneScape and Old School RuneScape, players mostly still refer to the former as RuneScape 3 or RS3 and the latter as OSRS or simply Old School. Saying simply "RuneScape" can refer two either of these two "main" versions of the game as they both receive regular updates and, thus, have their own dedicated playerbases.
It has a series of Expanded Universe novels: Betrayal at Falador (2008), Return to Canifis (2011) and Legacy of Blood (2012), all written by T.S. Church. It also spawned three, since discontinued, spin-off games: Armies of Gielinor, a multiplayer Turn-Based Tactics game set during the God Wars, released through the now-defunct FunOrb, Chronicle: RuneScape Legends a Collectible Card Game, and RuneScape Idle Adventures, an Idle Game, although Idle Adventures was declared Canon Discontinuity with the release of the RuneScape quest "The Needle Skips" due to the lore inconsistencies it created. In May 2023, Jagex announced Untold Tales of the God Wars, a four-part comic series that will release later in 2023. A free preview was given out to celebrate Free Comic Book day.
It has spawned its own annual Fan Convention known as RuneFest, which has run since 2010.
A documentary about the history of RuneScape made to celebrate the game's 15th anniversary can be seen here.
Note that trope examples are assumed to refer to RuneScape 3 unless otherwise stated.