In case you don’t know, we’re swiftly approaching Runescape’s 20th anniversary. The pioneering MMO has led the industry in every little thing from consistent content updates and free-to-play mechanics come educating football player on account security, however Jagex’s crowning success remains that exuberant vacation events. Every year players can expect celebrations about Gielinor to note Easter, Halloween, and also Christmas, through holiday-themed quests, cosmetic items, and also festive makeovers for various locations.

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Of all the holiday events in Runescape’s 20-year history, one cosmetic item stand out: the humble party hat. Regardless of having no usage whatsoever, the party hat would certainly go ~ above to market for billions of gold pieces between players, and also eventually became so an important that it gone beyond the maximum quantity of yellow that can be traded in-game. We spoke v Runescape style director note Ogilvie, lead designer Dave Osborne, and also product manager Matt Casey to gain the within story behind Runescape’s most expensive item.

Incredibly, this all began nearly twenty years ago, in 2001. Runescape’s designers at the time, Andrew and also Paul Gower, want to surprise players at Christmas, therefore they logged into various servers roughly the world, go to popular areas roughly Gielinor, and also started dropping Christmas Crackers because that players to pick up and open. The course, Christmas crackers tend to contain a cruddy file party hat, a lame joke, and some miniscule trinket, and also Runescape’s to be not too dissimilar; every cracker would certainly contain a coloured party hat that players can wear, however there would also be a relatively valuable item choose a silver bar or a yellow ring.

“The idea was the two people would pull a cracker together. Somebody would acquire a silly tiny party cap which they could put on your head, operation around, and also celebrate Christmas. The other person would gain a valuable or semi-valuable item and also they wouldn’t acquire a hat, but they would certainly be happy due to the fact that they gained something that value,” Ogilvie explains. “The hat is the junk item. It to be intended to it is in the item friend didn’t want.”


And so, most players tucked the party hat away in their in-game bank and forgot around it. “You have to remember, these are stat-less objects. You gain no bonus whatsoever for wearing a party hat. Absolutely nothing. It’s just an item you stay on her head – it looks choose a crappy hat. Our artist tried come redesign them many, plenty of times and we were choose ‘no, no, no, no, no – that is what they look like’. They’re supposed to look choose some awful little tissue document thing the barely fits on her head,” Ogilvie says.

The cap is the junk items - it"s intended to be the item you didn"t want

Mark Ogilvie

Design director

Not lengthy after the 2001 Christmas event, Runescape’s designers started an altering the method they tackled holiday events. Contrasted to the game’s modern-day events, 2001’s Christmas cracker drops were pretty tame. By 2005, the Halloween occasion had readjusted from dropping pumpkins the players can eat come a Ghostbusters-themed dungeon through a unique weapon. The rewards acquired better, as well – aid Diango clear his workshop that ghosts and also you obtained a full skeleton costume with an alternative jack-o’-lantern helmet. Most of these rewards were additionally released as non-tradable items, therefore they didn’t impact the game’s economy.

For the very first year, most players suspect the party hat could make a return some day, and also the main aspect steering their rise in value was an influx of new players, i m sorry naturally caused gold inflation. At this time, there to be no grand Exchange in Runescape, so all trading to be done player-to-player, making that very difficult to get a consistent price ~ above anything.


Shortly after 2002’s Christmas event the coin dropped – the party cap was no coming back. The realisation that their it is provided was currently finite followed, and drove their first far-reaching price increases. It’s approximated that they reached a optimal of approximately 15 million gold pieces in 2003, prior to temporarily tanking after football player discovered an item duplication glitch. Yet it was just one year later that party hats recovered your value, returning to 15 million, and also a more six months because that them to double to 30 million. ~ two much more months? 75 million. By at an early stage 2006, a single party hat might sell because that 190 million gold pieces.

They grew in value because they told others the you were a ideal Runescape player

Mark Ogilvie

Design director

The prices ongoing to rise, yet they shooting up drastically in 2007 after ~ the cool Exchange was introduced to Runescape. This is a centralised marketplace that successfully makes the economic situation transparent. Girlfriend can set up any trade friend want, look for trades for certain items, or just home window shop for points you can’t afford. It additionally made it very easy to find out exactly how much items to be worth, which only brought about the prices because that the rarest items to go v the roof. And as the game continued to expand, with new content and also millions of brand-new players bringing an ext gold into the economy, the party hat remained in finite supply.

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“They thrived in value due to the fact that they told other players that you to be a proper, major Runescape player – that you to be there in 2001 as soon as the party hats dropped,” defines Ogilvie. “Whether they in reality were or no wasn’t the allude – the reality that they own one to be a massive status symbol.”


By 2015 the party hat got to ‘max stack’ – the maximum quantity of gold that you deserve to trade in a solitary transaction. That’s 2.1 billion gold pieces, boost in value of 447% end eight years. This hasn’t quit their increase in value, so currently players just trade stacks of an important items worth more than 2.1 billion gold. And, return illegal, over there is a real-world value to these items since of Runescape gold sellers. Follow to Runescape YouTuber FlippingOldschool, the most sought after colour the party hat, blue, newly sold because that 57 billion gold pieces, which puts its value at roughly $6,700 USD, or £5,000 GBP.

party hats eliminated my update

Dave Osborne

Lead designer

For apparent reasons, the party hat method quite a lot come Runescape players, and also Jagex has acknowledged this by routinely trolling them with recommendations to the rarely item. Recounting one April Fool’s prank, Dave claims “because party hats are frequently shortened to p-hats by players, we offered them a pea hat, which was a little pea you might strap to her head. We’ve likewise done party hats everyone deserve to get and also wear for a day, party hats the rip once you go to placed them on her head, and there’s a dimension in one pursuit where you can find a chromatic party cap with every one of the party hat colours, but it’s upside-down.”

The trolling walk both ways. “There to be a baby Troll pet we released right into the game,” says Ogilvie, “and it takes the name of everything item you first feed it. Running about the video game it wasn’t long before we came across the an initial Baby Troll referred to as Party Hat, and we were just like… the audacity to sacrifice something like that. And also we had actually all species of message that would pop up to warn players before using or dropping a party hat, and also they did the anyway.”


There room urban myths about dormant account with hundreds of unopened Christmas crackers, miscellaneous Jagex practically turned into a storage Wars-inspired mechanic, but shelved complying with a divided community reaction. It was announced at Runescape’s yearly fan fest and everything, which we reported on earlier in 2016, yet it never made it come the live game. “Party hats are mostly the reason that idea died,” Osborne says, “because players didn’t like how it might affect the variety of party hats in the game’s economy. The rarity is part of the fun. For this reason yeah, party hats killed my update.”

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In the 19 year since very first arriving in Runescape, no other rare item has actually made together a lasting impact on the game, that lore, and also its players 보다 the party hat. So, how has actually it affected the developers? “As a game designer,” Ogilvie says, “you want your most beneficial objects to be the ones friend designed to be the most an useful object. You want it to be the most an effective sword or a super rare cosmetic in a treasure trail that has actually an very low autumn rate. But, we’re Runescape designers, i beg your pardon is something completely different. So you can apply that logic, however what players execute with it as soon as it’s out in the wild? That’s no in your control anymore, and also we love that.”

Frustrating from a style perspective? “Yes, sort of,” Ogilvie admits, “But from a Runescape view it is absolutely 100% bang on.”

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