A vast majority of both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape players can agree that the holiday events are very anticipated by the player base at large. They’ve been an essential element of the game that the community has enjoyed since players started the game in 2001 when it went live. Sadly, holiday events have changed considerably since then. They’ve lost their spirit, sense of community, fun, and humor. And it’s something that desperately needs to change.
From the beginning, seasonal events in RuneScape consisted of short events that players participated in and would be rewarded with the holiday event item. The most infamous of all is the Party Hat from Christmas 2001. You would be rewarded with the item if you completed the short event or even were there during the set period. It was all in good fun. Over the years, and as RuneScape has become more heavily monetized, this has changed substantially. Jagex has altered the events quite significantly from those of the past. There’s no story, no humor, and worst of all, MTX events are pushed toward players who have spent unhealthy periods trying to obtain the incredibly rare items from the event. They aren’t a fun, guaranteed reward for participation. They are incredibly rare drops that encourage players to either open their wallets or play for an exceedingly unhealthy number of hours.
Unfortunately, the 2023 Halloween event in RuneScape was a perfect example of this. Even if players played non-stop, they couldn’t obtain all the rewards in the event store. Let alone obtain the rare event items that were at the whims of RNG. Nothing was fun about this event; no love was put into it. It was an event based on the continued monetization of the game, and it upset the community, who were still feeling the impact of the Hero Pass implementation and removal.
Jagex has stated that they want to listen to the players. And in ways, they have proven that to be true, with the removal of Hero Pass, multiple surveys, and other gameplay tweaks. It’s good to see that they are taking steps to improve the game’s current state. So, the community was excited when they saw that the 2023 Christmas event would include a Black Party Hat. This item has long been a meme in the RuneScape sphere, and it’s exciting to see it finally being implemented into the game.
That excitement was short-lived for most of the community, as the news piece stated the following.
“We want to really stress that this will be an incredibly rare drop that only a small number of players will end up earning during the course of the event – even the most dedicated helper to Santa isn’t likely to find it … There are no paid routes to finding the Black Party Hat or to increase the number of Letters / Nice Points that you can hand in each week.”Jagex, November 2023
It may be true that the Party Hats are now very expensive and rare items in-game. But it’s not because they were incredibly limited in a faux rarity type situation, and more that they are from a 2001 event, and over time, have become rarer and more sought after organically. There seems to be a disconnect between the Jagex of now and yesteryear. The forced monetization that players have been subjected to is decaying the spirit of the game. What harm does it do to return to the enjoyable events of the past? An event should be about taking a break from the grind, interacting with the community, enjoying the essence of RuneScape scattered throughout the event, and receiving an item to say that you participated. Does it really have to be incredibly rare?
It would be unfair not to point out that it seems like Jagex did listen to player feedback regarding the 2023 event. They have clearly stated that the Black Party Hat will not be able to be obtained via paid means. This has been one of the biggest gripes with the events and has been removed. But it’s almost as if they have swung too far the other way.
The reception on social media to the Black Party Hat is somewhat mixed. Overall, players are happy that the item will finally come to the game but wish it was more obtainable as only a lucky few will be able to obtain one organically or through purchasing it directly from a player, which only the wealthiest of players will be able to do.
At the very least, Jagex should release the numbers regarding the chance of obtaining the Black Party Hat so that players can make an informed choice over whether or not they deem playing for an excessively long time for a chance at a potential drop to be worth it. Including these rates would be, in a roundabout way, a step in the right direction. After all, one cannot see Jagex changing course and not including incredibly rare items in event pools. Is there going to be 10? 100? Or maybe even 1,000? Players should have the opportunity to be informed in this manner.
At the end of the day, though, all the Black Party Hat has offered players is the opportunity to see that there is still a significant disconnect between Jagex as a company and the player base. Maybe after the fumbled events of 2023, Jagex will release events that align with the spirit of RuneScape more closely in 2024. Not everything has to be a painful grind; some things can be for fun. And with the grindy nature of RuneScape, that is far too often forgotten.