In situation you don’t know, we’re promptly approaching Runescape’s 20th anniversary. The pioneering MMO has actually led the market in whatever from consistent content updates and free-to-play mechanics to educating players on account security, yet Jagex’s crowning success remains the exuberant holiday events. Annually players deserve to expect celebrations around Gielinor to mark Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, with holiday-themed quests, cosmetic items, and also festive makeovers for different locations.

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Of every the holiday occasions in Runescape’s 20-year history, one cosmetic item stands out: the humble party hat. Despite having no use whatsoever, the party hat would go ~ above to offer for billions of gold pieces between players, and also eventually became so beneficial that it surpassed the maximum lot of yellow that can be traded in-game. Us spoke through Runescape design director mark Ogilvie, lead designer Dave Osborne, and also product manager Matt Casey to get the inside story behind Runescape’s many expensive item.

Incredibly, this all started nearly two decades ago, in 2001. Runescape’s developers at the time, Andrew and Paul Gower, want to surprise players in ~ Christmas, so they logged into various servers roughly the world, walk to popular areas approximately Gielinor, and started dropping Christmas Crackers for players to pick up and also open. Of course, Christmas crackers have tendency to save a cruddy document party hat, a lame joke, and some miniscule trinket, and also Runescape’s to be not also dissimilar; every cracker would contain a coloured party hat that players can wear, however there would additionally be a reasonably valuable item favor a silver- bar or a yellow ring.

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


And so, many players tucked the party hat away in their in-game bank and also forgot about it. “You have to remember, these room stat-less objects. You get no bonus whatsoever for wearing a party hat. Absolutely nothing. It’s just an object you wear on your head – it looks prefer a crappy hat. Our artist tried to redesign them many, many times and also we were choose ‘no, no, no, no, no – the is what they look like’. They’re an alleged to look favor some awful small tissue document thing the barely fits on your head,” Ogilvie says.

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

Mark Ogilvie

Design director

Not long after that 2001 Christmas event, Runescape’s developers started transforming the method they tackled holiday events. Compared to the game’s modern events, 2001’s Christmas cracker drops to be pretty tame. Through 2005, the Halloween occasion had readjusted from dropping pumpkins that players might eat to a Ghostbusters-themed dungeon v a distinctive weapon. The rewards got better, too – aid Diango clear his workshop that ghosts and you acquired a full skeleton costume through an alternative jack-o’-lantern helmet. Most of these rewards were additionally released as non-tradable items, for this reason they didn’t affect the game’s economy.

For the very first year, many players presume the party hat can make a return part day, and also the main aspect steering their increase in value was an influx of new players, i beg your pardon naturally brought about 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 challenging to get a constant price on anything.


Shortly after 2002’s Christmas event the coin dropped – the party hat was no coming back. The realisation that their supply was currently finite followed, and drove your first far-reaching price increases. It’s approximated that they got to a height of roughly 15 million gold piece in 2003, prior to temporarily tanking after players discovered things duplication glitch. Yet it was just one year later on that party hats recovered your value, returning to 15 million, and also a additional six months because that them to twin to 30 million. ~ two much more months? 75 million. By early on 2006, a solitary party hat might sell because that 190 million gold pieces.

They flourished in value since they told others that you were a proper Runescape player

Mark Ogilvie

Design director

The prices ongoing to rise, yet they shooting up considerably in 2007 ~ the grand Exchange was introduced to Runescape. This is a centralised marketplace that successfully makes the economic climate transparent. Girlfriend can collection up any type of trade friend want, look for trades for particular items, or just home window shop for things you can’t afford. It additionally made it very easy to find out just how much items to be worth, which only caused the prices for the rarest items come go with the roof. And also as the game ongoing to expand, with new content and also millions of brand-new players bringing much more gold into the economy, the party hat remained in limited supply.

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“They grew in value because they told various other players the you to be a proper, significant Runescape player – that you were there in 2001 when the party hats dropped,” explains Ogilvie. “Whether they actually were or not wasn’t the allude – the reality that they owned one to be a huge status symbol.”


By 2015 the party hat got to ‘max stack’ – the maximum lot of gold the you can trade in a solitary transaction. That’s 2.1 billion yellow pieces, boost in value of 447% over eight years. This hasn’t stopped their rise in value, so currently players just trade stacks of beneficial items worth much more than 2.1 billion gold. And, back illegal, over there is a real-world worth to these items since of Runescape gold sellers. According to Runescape YouTuber FlippingOldschool, the most sought after ~ colour of party hat, blue, recently sold because that 57 billion yellow pieces, which place its value at approximately $6,700 USD, or £5,000 GBP.

party hats killed my update

Dave Osborne

Lead designer

For obvious reasons, the party hat means quite a lot come Runescape players, and also Jagex has actually acknowledged this by consistently trolling lock with referrals to the rarely item. Recounting one April Fool’s prank, Dave says “because party hats are often shortened to p-hats through players, we gave them a pea hat, which was a tiny pea you can strap to her head. We’ve also done party hats everyone can get and wear because that a day, party hats that rip when you go to put them on your head, and there’s a measurement in one pursuit where you can discover a chromatic party cap with every one of the party hat colours, but it’s upside-down.”

The trolling goes both ways. “There to be a baby Troll pet us released right into the game,” claims Ogilvie, “and it takes the surname of everything item you very first feed it. Running roughly the video game it wasn’t long before we came across the first Baby Troll dubbed Party Hat, and also we were simply like… the audacity come sacrifice something favor that. And also we had all kinds of message that would certainly pop up to warn players before using or dropping a party hat, and also they did the anyway.”


There space urban myths around dormant account with thousands of unopened Christmas crackers, something Jagex nearly turned right into a warehouse Wars-inspired mechanic, but shelved adhering to a divided ar reaction. It to be announced at Runescape’s annual fan fest and everything, which us reported on ago in 2016, but it never made it come the live game. “Party hats are largely the factor that idea died,” Osborne says, “because players didn’t like exactly how it might affect the number of party hats in the game’s economy. The rarity is part of the fun. So yeah, party hats killed my update.”

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In the 19 year since an initial arriving in Runescape, no various other rare item has actually made together a lasting affect on the game, that is lore, and also its players than the party hat. So, how has actually it impacted the developers? “As a video game designer,” Ogilvie says, “you want your most beneficial objects to it is in the ones friend designed to be the most valuable object. You desire it to be the most powerful sword or a super rare cosmetic in a treasure trace that has actually an incredibly low drop rate. But, we’re Runescape designers, which is something completely different. So girlfriend can use that logic, but what players perform with it once it’s the end in the wild? That’s not in your regulate anymore, and we love that.”

Frustrating from a architecture perspective? “Yes, sort of,” Ogilvie admits, “But native a Runescape view it is for sure 100% bang on.”

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