10k players, especially those with pure accounts that got "ruined" or made useless by EoC, can be much more than 30k accounts.
When I took a 2 year hiatus from RS it would show 8 accounts leaving the game as well as 20-30 page views/day. I'm not saying there aren't a few other variables I left out nor do I deny over-simplifying the issue.
But take a moment in my shoes:
Keep in mind this game has been "dying" since the "economy crisis" of 2003.
It's been "dying" since the transition to RS2.
It's been "dying" since the release of "useless monkeysink/no thought/useless skills" like Construction and Slayer.
It's been "dying" since Godwars/Dclaws/PvM-centric gameplay.
It's been "dying" since the removal of the Wilderness in 2007.
It's been "dying" since the introduction of Bounty Hunter.
It's been "dying" since Bounty Hunter was removed.
It's been "dying" since Free Trade was re-introduced.
It's been "dying" since EoC landed.
It's been "dying" for a goddamn long time - and some of us are just sick of hearing the wild theories behind why. Here's the truth starting from 2005:
Nearly all MMO's have taken a hit. The next generation of players simply aren't patient enough for MMO's and play immediate gratification games like Meatboy or Angry Birds where levels are a few minutes long - not a few days of grinding.
There is more competition in "fast action" games like Battlefield or Call of Duty as well that give a "better thrill" than Runescape PvP. This isn't 2003~2006 where consoles still kinda sucked to play online with (PS2 was mostly racing games, Xbox live was shoddy)
The PS3 was released in late 2006. Xbox 360 was released in late 2005. The funny thing about RS's largest "downhill trend" was the new competition from the 360 and PS3 in 2006-2007 as the consoles started gaining a larger consumer base. Whenever a new major title is released for a console - Runescape takes a small hit in players for a week or two while everyone is playing those games.
There is simply a lot more competition resulting in less growth of a new playerbase. The game still gets new players (I see them quite often on one of my noob accounts!) but that number is a lot less than in 2004-2005. As older players leave the game, getting busy with college, family, or just bored with the game after 8-10~ years of playing - that huge influx of players from 2004-2006 are finally leaving the game.
The 2004-2006 players simply aren't being replaced as quickly as they had joined. This isn't something to be overly worried about. It's actually quite expected and seems to be stabled out. It's less than in 2004-2006 but with increased competition and less young player interest (due to more instant gratification or faster paced games being out) that should be expected.
When Jagex is making more money per year than they've ever made in the past - having less players isn't TOO big of a deal because those players are paying Jagex more money than older players.
1) They aren't paying "grandfathered" membership prices.
2) They are buying SGS items, Runecoins, Spins, and Bonds in quite large amounts.
I've paid over what I would have paid Jagex in an entire year in the past just buying spins once for the Farming outfit. That means just on me alone they've increased their profits by 200%. Another friend of mine has spent $350~ in spins in the past 6 months. Considering they used to only make $60/month off this player - that's nearly a what.. 700% profit? And it isn't even the end of the year yet.
Some typos fixed.