What does Runescape need? That's a good question, probably *the* good question that Jagex should and are asking themselves. At the moment, the answer is 'filling out all the skills, adding high level content, expanding graphical capabilities and the evolution of combat along with doing a good marketing job'. And it's a sensible, well rounded answer, the sort you'd expect from a company that's done a lot but never been able to succeed outside their flagship product for very long. I'd agree with pretty much all these points (they're also redeveloping quests, which is good but not frequent enough to suggest they think it's a priority-this might be mistaken).
However, they are missing a real problem with this game. A few years ago, you could have asked any gaming forum why more people didn't play runescape and the answer would have been 'graphics, combat, and grind'. It looked terrible, click and wait was boring (even if the best of the best bosses and PvP offered something rather more interesting) and it takes hundreds of hours to get to what most would think of as a 'decent level'. Today, graphics aren't the major issue and combat is vastly improved (oh, and the free trade/wilderness thing reversed a lot of bad PR and then provided further marketing opportunities on how Jagex were resolving their bot problem-now that's clever press work). But the grind is still there.
Runescape has a lot of skills, and all of those skills are to a certain extent critical to getting to the most interesting parts of the game. Most skills feed into combat (increasingly so, with things like Player Owned Ports) and they are also a requirement for doing some of the most interesting quests-the only area Runescape is actually seen as an industry leader in, and something which it is rapidly slipping from being so significant in. Skills take 10s of hours, most of which ends up being a mindless grind, either in accumulating the money for that skill or moving through the xp itself. This is a lot higher than most MMOs and while it has some benefits (specifically, longer subscription times and less people getting bored at the level cap) it's not at all fun.
But Cheimon, you say, "the grind is the game! It's not the same without the grind!". No. The grind is what you do to play the game. The gameplay is the game, the grind is what you do to get to the game, and while it makes you impressive, it's not entertaining and it's rubbish gameplay in and of itself. Take cooking, one of the most popular skills: you go back and forth to a bank, turning more valuable commodities into less valuable ones and spend most of the time browsing other things or chatting to friends. Take agility, where many people would take any route in the game rather than train it with its mindless clicking patterns and inevitably eventually boring animations. Take smithing, where you spend vast amounts of cash in order to get masses of worthless pieces of equipment which you then sell quickly and cash in on a single, actually decent set of armour. Nobody finds this fun, at least not for any length of time, and certainly not for the lengths of time that people, you know, *complete* other games in. A playthrough of *Mass Effect*, a campaign in *Medieval 2: Total War*, or a finished playthrough of the storyline of *Age of Empires III* (all older games, but eh) can all be shorter than grinding to a 'decent level' in this game and are all certainly infinitely more entertaining.
So what's the solution? The current one is that Jagex has reached out to the 'efficiency' community and ideal, with the opportunities of bonus xp, enhanced xp, distraction xp, holiday events and so on attempting to break up the monotony of core skill training and also aiming to make the eventual process shorter. However, this ultimately misses the point: the main way of training this skill is not fun, and it isn't intuitive.
The answer to the problem lies in the essential training of skills. What runescape needs is a fundamental shakeup in how people gain their levels in such a way that they no longer see it as a grind but as a fun and interesting part of gameplay. This means less of a focus on alleviating grind (through xp bonuses and add-ons by training the skill in a way that wasn't originally intended) and more of a focus on making the grind interesting. Perhaps by encouraging players to vary their skill training (but still keep focused on what that skill does) or simply making the gameplay...well, more fun. Dungeoneering is a good example of how it's done well, and so (to an extent) is slayer, because it offers a genuine variety of training, even if that skill still takes way too long.
Runescape needs to change the way it grinds. Do that, and it'll be a better game, not just for mid levels but for everyone.