Runelite HD is a mod (made by one person, 117) that takes Old School RuneScape and gives it an HD makeover.
As far back as 2018, Jagex were issuing legal threats against mods like this, claiming they were copyright infringement. However, those appeared to have blown over as Jagex gave their blessing to the original Runelite.
Yet earlier this week, just hours before the improved Runelite HD was due for an official release, 117 was contacted by Jagex, demanding that work stop and that the release be cancelled. This time, however, it’s not down to copyright claims, but because Jagex says they’re making their own HD upgrade.
In a statement posted to the game’s site, Jagex say:
In this blog we’d like to clarify our stance on third-party HD clients (and other projects which seek to radically change the visual appearance of the game). We know you’ve got lots of questions about them, and we think this will provide you with all the clarity we need.
Yesterday we contacted the developers of known HD projects and we asked them to stop development of their projects, because this is a project we are directly investigating at Jagex. We look forward to being able to share progress as our own in-house project with Old School’s visuals unfolds.
While that sounds somewhat fair at first, there’s a huge problem. Runelite HD doesn’t actually seem to break any of Jagex’s modding guidelines, and the company says that new guidelines that spell out the fact Runelite HD does actually break its guidelines are being released next week.
Understandably, fans think this is incredibly shady, and have begun staging an in-game protest:
Mod creator 117 says they attempted to compromise with Jagex, even offering to remove their mod once the company had finished and released their own efforts, but, “they declined outright,” seemingly spelling the end for a project that had consumed, “approximately over 2000 hours of work over two years.”
Yesterday, September 6, 2021, RuneLite HD would have been released. The code had been reviewed and bugs had been fixed - it was ready to go. You would have been playing with it right now. Yet, at the eleventh hour, Jagex contacted me asking me to take it down in light of the reveal that they have a similarly-themed graphical improvement project that is “relatively early in the exploration stages”.
I offered a compromise of removing my project from RuneLite once they are ready to release theirs, in addition to allowing them collaborative control over the visual direction of my project. They declined outright.
So, it appears that this is the end. Approximately 2000 of hours of work over two years. A huge outpouring of support from all of you. I could never have imagined the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve had to this project.
I am beyond disappointed and frustrated with Jagex, and I am so very sorry that, after this long journey, I’m not able to share this project with you.