Holiday drops

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Holiday drops in RuneScape Classic were an early form of in-game celebration of real life holidays. Unlike in later iterations of the game, the celebrations were not implemented as the full featured quests of RuneScape 2 and Old School RuneScape or as daily events like in RuneScape 3.

Instead, Holiday drops in RuneScape Classic were simply randomly dispersed item drops on the ground. Throughout most of the holiday drops, System messages would be broadcast by Jagex moderators to announce the celebration. The drops were done manually[1] by Jagex moderators. In earlier events, some players were even directly given their holiday items by Jagex staff in normal trades.

In the beginning[edit | edit source]

The tradition of holiday drops started with the 2001 Halloween event, with Pumpkins being dropped all over for Halloween. Many players ate their pumpkins, as they were high healing food, and because at the time, bank space was limited to only 48 items. Similarly, with the 2001 Christmas event, players had a lot of fun using crackers on each other and getting prizes, but the Party Hats weren't considered as more than just paper hats. "One of my friends used to pk wearing a party hat then drop it for space whenever he got a kill."[2] And again in Easter 2002, many players ate their Easter eggs, as part of the celebration of the holiday, as was intended.

However, by the time that the 2002 Halloween event occurred, some players had caught on to the fact that there was no possible way to obtain new holiday items after the event was over. Although prices were nowhere near as ludicrously high as they would become another decade later, after a single year, the effect of diminishing supply and increasing demand was apparent. In response, for the 2002 Christmas event newspost, Jagex pleaded with players and tried to reset the tone of Holiday drops back to a celebration of the holidays:

Merry christmas from the Jagex team. We're dropping some santa hats today at random intervals in random places. They're just a bit of fun though, so please don't be too upset if you can't find one. If you manage to get more than one then please consider giving them to your friends as christmas presents. Of course you can sell them but that's not really the spirit of christmas :-)

However, the law of supply and demand did not yield to the spirit of Christmas.

Untradable drops[edit | edit source]

In response to continued monetization of holiday items, in 2003, Jagex decided to make all future holiday items untradeable, starting with the Easter 2003 holiday drop. As stated in the 2003 Easter newspost:

Please remember - these are supposed to be just a bit of fun for Easter. We've noticed on previous occasions players hoarding huge numbers of the gifts we drop, and then reselling them for massively unfair prices. This really isn't in the spirit of the occasion. :-)

We don't want this to just become an event whereby a few lucky players suddenly become ludicrously unfairly rich. Therefore new holiday drops are non-tradeable and limited to one per player. But hopefully still a lot of fun.

Both Bunny ears and Scythes were dropped under this system, and removing the ability for there to be a market around the items did seem to solve the problem. However, the hype around holiday items was not stifled. So many players were upset that they didn't obtain a Scythe on 31 October 2003, that Andrew felt obligated to execute a second drop of Scythes on 2 November 2003. Andrew wrote in the newspost announcing the redrop: "This is supposed to be a bit of fun. Something to enjoy, not something to get upset about!".

No more holiday drops[edit | edit source]

In addition to Andrew's exasperation that Holiday drops were generating a lot of disappointment and entitlement, unscrupulous players still attempted to trade the untradeable holiday items. This was done successfully by creating accounts simply to gather the holiday items, then engaging in account trading later, against the rules of the game. It was also attempted to use packet manipulation to trade Scythes, sending network data to the game that normally could not be sent by the game's official client. This was unsuccessful, but it led to the Great Party Hat Dupe instead.

These factors, in combination with the mounting pressure to release RuneScape 2 led Andrew to announce that there would be no holiday drop in Christmas 2003, and in fact a move to "just stop the whole holiday-drop thing before the situation gets even worse." The full newspost is an excellent summary of the pressures that Jagex felt:

This is just a quick note to say that there aren't going to be any RuneScape items dropped at christmas. I really don't like having to say this, but I can't see any sensible alternative.

This is because the last few drops actually caused a lot of upset, and resulted in a *huge* number of complaints from players who didn't manage to get an item (or didn't get as many as their mates). Many players seemed to get really upset about the drop which is of course the exact opposite of the intended effect.

These drops used to be fun, when we started them - because they were a suprise, and nobody took them too seriously. They were just a little bit of extra fun for people who were around at the time. However nowadays many players seem to expect the 'suprise' drop to happen, and so it just doesn't work the same.

Please don't go complaining to customer-support or moaning on the forums about the christmas drop. It won't change anything. Of course I'm expecting we'll get lots of complaints whatever we do :-( Which just goes to prove how horribly wrong the whole holiday-drop thing has become. The more complaints we get the more it proves to me that we really need to just stop the whole holiday-drop thing before the situation gets even worse.

On a more positive note, we are instead going to focus our time & efforts on improving the game in other exciting ways, and working on getting RS2 ready for launch early next year.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The story for RuneScape Classic ends here, but of course Jagex continued to be successful with RuneScape 2. As a result of the lessons learned in Classic, future holiday events occurred differently. The first was the 2004 April Fools event, which took the form of a permanent NPC named Diango selling joke items in unlimited quantity. Although there was no Easter 2004 event or Halloween 2004 event, Jagex would once again return to releasing traditional holiday events in Christmas 2004. This time with a Santa NPC available for an entire two week period, allowing players to have ample opportunity to log in and participate in the holiday celebration.

Classic would not ever be updated with Holiday events again, which some players who stayed on the game rather than move to RuneScape 2 were upset about, but it allowed Classic the opportunity to act as the time capsule that it was for another 15 years.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. as explained in a newspost for the 2003 Halloween event: "the fact that we all live in England means unfortunately people in Western US are asleep whilst we are in the office, and able to login to the game to drop items."
  2. https://stripeybank.blogspot.com/2007/11/runescape-rare-items-partyhats-santas.html