The idea that one can create an economy or a business within a game is mostly regarded as far-fetched. How can someone run a business when they cannot physically be there to oversee it? However, there are many people who like to do just that. They love the idea of overseeing a business within a game, and some of these businesses have been very successful. The various “businesses within Runescape have always been, and will continue to be a vital part of the economy.
In the older days of Runescape, before free-trade and the wilderness were removed, there were many businesses that could be found throughout Runescape. They offered this that and the other thing, but most were very novelty. They would pretend to run a hotel, or a bar, and were all mostly for fun. However, there were some businesses that actually offered a service. Runecrafting offered a good chance to run a business, trading runes to people who could not make them in exchange for more essence. The crafter got to get more XP, and the runner got free runes. The prime example of where this done, was in world 66 at the Law altar. Hundreds would flock to this area, mostly runners to try to get free law runes in exchange for essence. They would only get as many as they could give, but would get their essence back in noted form. This meant that if they ran to the bank and un-noted it, they would get free laws. Everybody would win. So the altar was always packed, and crafters were always getting lots of experience due to the demand. It also helped that a single law rune was worth up to 1000 gold pieces.
On the other side of the spectrum, but still in the realm of Runecrafting was the Nature running businesses. There were two types, ones that would offer cash, and others that would offer double natures. The ones that offered double natures would give runners 2x the amount of runes for their essence, and noted essence to exchange at a nearby general store. The ones that offered cash, would offer noted essence and some coins rather than the runes to the runners. Most were between 7k-10k coins, which would yield great money to the crafter. They would make their money back plus more when selling the runes, so it was very profitable. Whenever free trade was removed, runners and crafters could no longer exchange essence. The only thing that could be done was that they could request assistance from the crafter, and would have to supply their own essence, but would get all the runes. This could only be done for 30k experience to the crafter before they could no longer do it. It was not very popular due to that fact.
Another place that was not quite a business, but was still player run, was the Fletching Guild. Many people who were making bows, or high alching bows that they would make, would gather in a location so they could do business there and be a community. There would be an upwards of 20 people in there at a time, all gathered around, alching or making bows talking about whatever came to mind. No one claimed ownership, but it was understood what the Fletching Guild was, what it stood for, and what to do there. This place died out around when free trade was removed, but was losing popularity some time before that.
On the 1st of February, 2011 Jagex re-released free trade back into the game, and many businesses sprang back to life. The rune running industry was one of them. However, this is not the only one. In the Runescape forums, under the Businesses & Services section, the pages are flooded with new peoples ideas about running these in-game businesses. Law Running has had a slow start so far. There are too many people wanting to craft runes for people, and not enough people bringing essence. It is much more profitable now, because of a previously released update that allows chances of double runes, so a person with high runecrafting could offer quite a bit more runes than essence to their runners. However, business has been slow to pick up, mostly due to that everyone forgot about Law Running because no one could do it, and the idea of it died. The people that used to run in the old days have become the crafters in these new days. Much advertising needs to be done to get people to start running, because it is now more profitable than ever to do it. Not all businesses have been so lucky to come back though.
Nature Running is now non-existent. Even after free-trade had been released, it has been hard to get the idea back fully on its feet. Nature runes are not worth near what they used to be worth in the old days, so most people do not want to do them.They would rather do laws because they can make more money. Crafters can’t offer the 7k-10k they used to, they could only offer about 5k a run. People who run laws make about 10k a run. There has been a slight amount of business with the people who offer double natures for essence, but it is not very much. These new businesses in Runescape, especially the ones in Runecrafting will take time to get back on their feet, but may become the cornerstone of the economy like they used to be.
Businesses have shown a resilience to being shut down no matter what changes within the game. Some, like Law Running, pretty much died out all-together. However, their importance within the game is felt everywhere.There are many more businesses than the ones talked about here, that can be found on the Runescape Forums. New ones start every day, so there will always be new experiences. For as long as Runescape exists, there will be people trying to take a piece of it for themselves.