RuneScape is the most played web browser MMORPG in history with more than 200 million registered players so far, this great success has allowed it to stay active for almost two continuous decades. RuneScape was developed by Jagex in 2001 and its gameplay has its own identity, despite being similar to other MMORPGs, where players must venture into a virtual world (in this case, the world of Gielinor), create an avatar, complete all kinds of missions, defeat monsters and develop various skills needed to grow in the game.
One of the most characteristic elements of all RuneScape and RuneScape Old School is the Grand Exchange, a marketplace where all players can freely sell or trade their items. Prices within the Grand Exchange are defined entirely by players, based on supply and demand for the items for sale. Because of this, prices within this market are fluctuating, so the price of any item can rise or fall suddenly and at any time. Due to the fluctuating market of the Grand Exchange, many players use various strategies to determine whether an item will increase or decrease in price and thus make a profit by buying and reselling at the right time.
Having clarified that, within RuneScape there is a curious item that due to the price fluctuation produced by supply and demand, has become one of the most expensive items within a videogame. This item is the popular Blue Partyhat.
In 2001, Jagex held a Christmas event for RuneScape, where players had to pick up Christmas Crackers that fell to the ground. When participating in this event with another player, one of them would receive a randomly-coloured Partyhat. The hats were only used for cosmetic purposes, so they were not very useful for the game.
The Blue Partyhat has a very small importance within the RuneScape plot, specifically in the Wise Old Man story. This story can be found in Draynor bank’s surveillance tapes, where it can be seen that the Wise Old Man killed Elfinlocks and stole the Blue Partyhat from his ashes while robbing the bank. Before the Love Story quest, the Wise Old Man wears the Blue Partyhat on his head, and after the quest, he lends it to Zenevivia, who currently lives with him in his house in Draynor.
During 2002, Partyhats were abundant and there were thousands in circulation, so their price was quite low. But, this item was discontinued completely, while the number of RuneScape players only continued to grow, so the Blue Partyhat became quite scarce and therefore its price began to rise disproportionately.
In 2003, the price of Blue Partyhat reached 5,000,000 gold coins (RuneScape’s currency), and a few months ago in 2019, the price of Blue Partyhat reached an incredible 18,000,000,000 gold coins. This means that the price of this Hat increased by more than 350,000% in 16 years, which is amazing. You can even find some websites that sell Blue Partyhat for $5,000.
In short, the Blue Partyhat is a clear example of the great value that can have a simple decorative item within a videogame. RuneScape is one of the games with the most developed commerce system of all and its influence is so great that it can even move real money through its parallel businesses made by its players, especially in RuneScape Old School. One of the most interesting markets that can be found in this MMORPG is the OSRS firecape service and the OSRS infernal cape service, both of which can be found on Eldorado. These services consist of obtaining such items (which are extremely difficult to get) for players who pay for this assistance.